I watched the speedometer’s needle go to 20. The speed limit was 15. I tried to distract myself…Blaring “Vendetta” by Slipknot on my iPod, trying to drown out any words being said. Looking out the open window at the planes flying so low that I felt like I could touch them. I even clutched the large Vanilla Latte that I’d purchased before continuing onto my final destination. I don’t know why I ordered a hot coffee on such a sticky, humid day, but I did…Anything to keep my mind off the task at hand.
I don’t know if I’d really been looking forward to yesterday or dreading it. I honestly don’t know. I think I just wanted to get it over and done with. The cemetery looked even bigger than it did a year ago. Granted, everything looks bigger and alot more clearer if you haven’t been there in awhile. My mom asked me where she wanted us to park, and I told her. She asked me if I was sure. I was sure. 100% sure. We got out of the car and I immediately walked over to where I’d remembered it was. Apparently, my memory wasn’t as good as I thought because he wasn’t there…I couldn’t find my friend.
I hadn’t been there since last year, but my one best friend had been there later last year, so I called her and asked her exactly where it was. I already knew where it was, but like I said, my memory isn’t that good. She told me and I started walking. After 5 minutes of walking, I became extremely aggravated. Mostly from the heat because it was so hot and humid and because I had a feeling I would never find it. I must have been walking, literally, like an hour around the same section of the cemetery, looking for my friend. Finally, my mom suggested that go inside the office there and ask one of the professionals that work there. I was relieved.
Right when I walked into the office, I felt my body temp go down about 10, maybe 20 degrees. Okay the 20 degrees is exaggerated, but I felt instantly cooler walking in. I asked the woman behind the desk if she could help me find a grave, which obviously she could since she worked there. I gave her the name and she explained it, providing me with a map of the cemetery and where his grave is. She was very helpful and nicer than I honestly would’ve expected. I wish I would’ve caught her name.
I held the map tightly in my hand as my mom rode back to where we started. We both looked at the map and followed the instructions gave by the helpful, nice professional in the office. Even though we were looking in the correct place, we couldn’t find him. I was starting to think that maybe someone was screwing with me. That maybe all of this was a dream. That he was still alive and breathing at his house or with friends. My mind instantly flashed to that ever strange, but familiar room, with flowers galore and playing in the background was the music he loved. Of course it was true. No one was screwing with me. It was real.
Finally, after what seemed like hours, we found it. I must’ve walked past it five or six times before actually stopping to notice. I found it next to a headstone with 117 written in the lower right-hand corner, complete with a #2. According to the map, my friend’s grave was 117, #1. I found it, but it wasn’t at all what I thought. It was just a grave marker. No headstone. Or nothing else for that matter. No flowers, no teddy bears, nothing. Just a grave marker.
I was completely shocked. Tears filled my eyes as I looked at the discolored grass that was growing in just beyond the marker.
How could someone be so negligent? Especially parents? Especially friends? Yes, in an economy that’s rough as hell, it’s hard to afford things, but something like that should be a priority. One year later, and there isn’t even something immortalized in marble to show how amazing your son was? Spare me! That’s pure disrespect for someone who’s fallen. It just disgusted me that there was no headstone. It disgusted me even more that the only flower that I saw visible was the yellow rose I’d put into the ground. His own friends didn’t bother to remember him. Show that they miss him. Show that he wasn’t forgotten. Some friends. I at least thought they’d show that they still cared, still had enough sense to remember him. Just goes to show you how much people change. How much his friends, my friends, our friends changed.
My memory was just as good as I thought it was, I remembered. Never forgotten, huh? Some things just never change.
Live your life everyday like it’s your last because you never know what tomorrow brings.