I never really liked you, for the most part. I thought you were an asshole until you came back from Afghanistan. You seemed so much more chill, so much more caring. You came back and actually saw us. You came back and instead of being an asshole to us, you became an asshole to everyone else on our behalf.
I remember the first time I saw you after you came home. It was for the fourth of July. Your head was completely shaved and you were fit and you played with your daughter with a tenderness I didn’t even know existed inside you. Later, while we were walking down the street to Sterling State Park from grandma’s house, somebody let off a firecracker and you freaked out and had to go home.
Man, I wish I knew then to reach out to you.
God, man. What do I even say?
I know you dealt with something before the war. I know that. I remember the first time you overdosed, but somehow I don’t remember it being this scary, this hopeless.
One of your commanding officers spoke at your funeral and told us that your fellow soldiers were receiving gunfire while you were in the shower, and that you got out of the shower and immediately started to return fire.
In your boxers.
They didn’t say much about what you said, though. Everyone talked about what you were like, who you were, your character, but nobody talked about the words you said. Hell, I don’t even remember the words you said to me.
But I do remember the words you said to Samantha after I brought a date to my family reunion. You said that you wanted to wipe the look of disgust off of my mother’s face. What you didn’t know is that every time I was with Miika, or showed affection to her, regardless of where we were, my mother would let us know with her eyes that she was disgusted. When I was told you said that, I cried.
I don’t know what I’m trying to say here, honestly.
I’m going to see your mom and your ex and your daughter today. That little girl looks just like you. I hope her hair lightens up and gets as red as yours is. Was.
I’ve seen two dead bodies in my life. One was my grandmother’s, and one was yours. Yours was technically alive, but they were keeping it alive. A few days in, your fingers and face were swollen and your lips were puffy. The first day, you just looked like you were asleep. The last day, you looked like you consumed something you were allergic to. The machines kept pumping air into your lungs and I could hear the heart monitor beeping, I think. Someone put a U of M blanket on you.
I have very strong feelings about violence and love and justice but all of that went out the window when I heard what happened. Some junkie left you in a car to die in the parking lot of ProMedica. All they had to do was go inside and say you were out there. All they had to do was take their bitch ass corpse of a body inside the fucking hospital and tell them where you were and what you’d taken and how you were responding and you would be alive right now, attending your own daughter’s 4th birthday. God, I wanted to kill the motherfuckers that did this to you. I still do. I don’t know what I’d do to them if I saw them, but I’d probably lose my shit and try my fucking hardest to fuck them up.
I know you made a choice. I know this. But I also know that this isn’t how you thought your life would go, and if you felt that you had a choice, you wouldn’t have chosen this. I can say all I want about addiction and dealers and Monroe, but really, the only thing that matters is that you’re really gone.
Your mom is torn up. I have mental health issues to begin with, but I literally have zero people to talk to about it. I don’t have access to therapists. I don’t have access to counselors. I haven’t dealt with what your death means to me and I don’t know how to.
Man, I didn’t really like you all that much, but I loved you like I love all my cousins. I never expected this to happen to any of us.
And God, Bobby and Jeffrey got fucked up. They were drunk the entire weekend of your funeral. They were drunk at your funeral. Me and Hollie brought vodka to your funeral reception and got drunk.
Brittany called me before you died and asked me to talk to Tyler to calm him down. He was blaming himself, man. I’ve never heard him cry like that, Allan. He was blaming himself, saying he should have known, he should have asked, he should have talked to you more, he should have been around more. I saw him at your funeral reception and I told him that he should call me if he needed anything and in that moment I wished, man I wished, I wished that I had said that to you.
Stuff like this is why I drive down to Toledo or to Monroe from Ypsilanti or to Canton to make sure my friends are okay and have someone to sit with them to make sure they’ll be okay. I know it wasn’t my responsibility and I know that if you were addicted you’d’ve found a way but fuck anyone who tries to tell me that I couldn’t have done anything. That none of us could’ve done anything.
Some of my friends ask me why I create fantasy worlds with mysteries and beautiful things but nobody asks me why none of my characters die–why I only resurrect my characters.
My aunt Connie is why. My grandmother is why. Grandma Del is why.
And now you are why.