I remember going over to our friend’s houses with you. I remember there being other kids there, but that I had the most fun with you. That was when I was still watching you from afar, waiting for my chance to become your friend. That was when our body was eight and you were nine. We had so much fun back then — you habitually genuinely smiled for some of the last times.
I remember being on the train with you, seeing you type to our other friend — one that we had let go under circumstances that we should not have let her go. I remember seeing you form so many connections like this one and being so proud that you did despite the wills of the others. Through their distrustful influence and through the guilt of being accountable for their actions, you grew and decided to rebuild those bridges they had burned. You later did this again and again until your supplies were gone, and no one gave you any more with which to work.
I remember going to fairs and carnivals with you. You were the life of the experience and always wished for someone to be as energetic as you, but the family was too old, the friends were too sheltered and afraid, and you were left alone to be their motivator with no one to motivate you. You fought hard to get what you wanted — so hard that when you did, it didn’t feel worth it. You escorted the people the experiences you thought were fun hurt away from the machines and learned a terrible lesson from it all — a lesson that would affect you for all of your future.
I remember when you smoked for the first time, against everyone’s guidance, and kept it a secret. I remember when they would offer you no sympathy or understanding, and I remember when the outside world would offer you no solace or freedom, either. You remained silent, your lips closed over the next empty dopamine rush, whether that be a sweet snack, a smoke, or a body part that belonged to someone you wanted to please, secretly hoping for some sort of reward from it all and never receiving.
I remember when you succumbed to your other side, believing there was nothing to lose, knowing that despite how misguided he was, he would protect you from the outside world. You, again, learned a terrible lesson — you got attached to those people from whom he wished to separate you, and then learned that they would never understand you as you were. You learned that “your” actions as someone else were unforgivable, and that they would be remembered forever. Although this can be true, it is not a lesson you deserved to learn when compounded with the others.
I remember when you became fully corrupted, bitter and sick of the outside world not understanding that you, too, were human, and that your wants deserved attention. I remember you coping by never again allowing yourself to break, never again being mean, and never again letting that part of yourself out. I remember watching you rot from the inside out from keeping your desires secret from everyone else.
I remember hearing them ask how to help you and hearing from you and the others that it was too late — that it was hopeless, and that they would never understand without acknowledging the past. I know you secretly wanted the “privileges” you used to have back — the outlets you had for your feelings and the relationships you felt you had near-unconditional love in before someone else ended them. Your feelings, though, were again not paid enough attention, and I could not help more than I did. This world is unforgiving to people who give what they were given back to the world, and favors people who suck themselves dry. That was what you thought, and so, you crumpled and collapsed in one final burst of energy, alone, with no one around, and then I encountered you.
Thoughts rush through my head — thoughts of how this place works, how we can continue to categorize it, and how we can continue our diplomatic efforts for understanding without you. I hate to admit it, too, but your feigned selflessness was what got us here, but it was all a lie. The factoids that we are one-hundred percent safe and good and stable and happy now are just that, too. We needed you for our own selfish purposes, just as the world did. Majority morality in an unaccepting world killed you. Dominance in a dog-eat-dog world killed you. Depression in a lonely world killed you. Only now, with your body decrepit and still, can I see the life in your now-closed eyes. Only in this moment, with your limbs flattened and shaped irregularly, bent in places human limbs could never have reached, can I see the humanity you had and the love you gave with those same limbs.
This world was not made for you, but it was not because it was too good for you to deserve. It was because you were too good and too mistreated for it to understand where you came from. This gray world with its monochromatic people does not understand vivid color. It views you painted across a canvas as an abstract smudge, literally with no other meaning. Your voice is not heard, and your eyes cannot open. You are dormant now, forever with a resting expression in a state of unrest.
Validation is what you needed — specific, targeted validation. You needed someone to allow your ugliest colors to spill. You needed someone to pull out the thorns that you had in your heart for so long, and for them to watch the blood run in front of them. You needed them to be excited by that, too — not just complacent, and looking toward the end, where healing used to lie. You wanted them to focus on the bitterest portions and indulge in them with you, or at least to accept you indulging. Without this, you were given no tools to even begin the extraction process. You were too tall for my small hands to reach — your struggles too great and too personal for me to help with — and I had to watch you fall.
Now, I am alone as you were. I remember you, though, and your sentiments live on in me.