My friend from high school passed away on June 13, 2011. Today's her birthday. I never had someone I've known pass away before. I went to her wake Tuesday and it was so emotional. I didn't know how to handle it. I still don't know how; it just feels so surreal. Liz and I weren't best friends, but we had known each other since elementary school. In high school, we went to New York together with my best friend Caitie on the AP English Trip and shared a room, as well as some make-up tips and boy secrets. There are so many pictures of the three of us together on that trip...
When we got there, we sat down for a little over 10 minutes in the room where her family and friends were. There was a slide show of pictures; Liz as a baby, Liz graduating as one of the Top 20 Seniors in our class, Liz always smiling. She really was always smiling, and if she wasn't, as soon as she saw me, she would give me a huge grin that would always make me smile wide.
Being in the room was too much, I didn't want to see her body. In my mind, she had passed on into heaven, but I did say a quick prayer for all those so greatly affected by her passing. I can't imagine how the family is coping. I didn't cry until just before we left. There was a collage of pictures of her with family and friends for remembrance. On it was a picture of Liz, me, and my high school friend Roselyn on graduation, smiling jubilantly into the camera. And there was another of Liz, Caitie, and I in New York. I started bawling. Like crazy. I was overcome by emotion, such a sense of finality and realization swept over me, such a sadness.
We left shorty after that. The car ride was mostly silent, then started gravitating toward how we were supposed to cope with losing Liz. By the end of the night, it was like it had never happened. Things fell back to normal.
But then I remembered. I remember her smile. I'll remember her. Forever.