I slowly drove my car down the empty road humming to myself. Slabs of stone carved with elegant designs, names, and dates dotted the flat greenland in a neat and organized manner. I parked my car right by a tree; the branches were stark naked. Gone were the reds and oranges that decorated its branches just a few months ago. But the tree still stood proudly, regardless of the cold.
I got out of the car and continued humming as I headed to the backseat. I was extremely excited to see you again. Why? Besides from the obvious fact that we haven’t seen each other in so long, it’s also your 21st birthday! I always thought turning 21 was way more exciting than turning 18. When you turn 18, all you could really do was vote, legally buy cigarettes, and actually get arrested. You couldn’t drink or gamble. I mean, that’s where all the fun was.
It’s been awhile since we last saw each other. How long has it been? Two months? Possibly three? A year? We haven’t seen each other in so long that I can barely recall the last time we had a face-to-face conversation. I remember warning you; if you went to school on the east coast, it would be extremely difficult to maintain daily contact due to the time difference. Plus it’d be impossible to hang out with you and do what we normally do like watch movies or grab a snack at the nearby boba place because you’re a couple thousand miles away from me now.
I pulled the balloons, a bouquet, some beer bottles, and your favorite chocolate tiramisu cake from the back of my car. I kicked the back door closed as I slowly made my way to the tree struggling not to drop anything. I carefully set the stuff down, then proceeded to sit against the tree and released a sigh of relief. That took more effort than I expected.
My friends chastised me these past couple of days. Why are you going through so much trouble? You know he’s not going to show up. You’re wasting your time. Can’t you just visit him and that’s that? No need to make the event all fancy.
Yeah, I know. Maybe I went a little too far with the extravagances. Besides, we haven’t seen each other in so long. Maybe you stopped viewing me as a friend. But then again, the last time we spoke, you promised we would get waffles from the food truck at the park once you came back to visit.
Let them think what they want.
I grabbed a bottle of beer, opened it, and took a quick drink. My phone vibrated. I checked it. A text message from my friend, Deborah.
“Are you there already?”
I responded, “Yeah.”
Looks like Deborah will be joining us soon. You haven’t seen her in awhile either. She was the only friend who didn’t think what I was doing was a bit over the top. I took another quick sip from the bottle.
Today was supposed to be a day of celebration, but instead everyone was mourning in their own different ways. Your Facebook was littered with friends posting “Happy Birthday! Wish you were here!” If you asked me, it’s a little bit depressing to turn a special occasion like celebrating the birth of a person into a glorified moment of grief. Heck, even people you hardly talked to started posting about how they missed you and wished they talked to you more before you left. Idiots.
You didn’t leave. You just went on a very long trip, right? We still have to get waffles from the food truck and gamble at Vegas! You promised, and you always kept your promises.
Tears slowly slid down my face.
Why did you have to push yourself so hard in that marathon? Why did your heart suddenly stop? Why can’t the doctors find a valid reason as to why your heart stopped? I mean, you were healthy and fit and you never had any complications before. So why then?
A white car pulled up behind my car. Deborah was here.
I wiped the tears from my face and stood up. I headed down to greet Deborah.
Don’t worry, I’ll be back.
After all, we still have to get waffles from the food truck. Right?