In 2001, I met a cute girl named Amanda at my high school. She and I were both pretty quiet but became good friends and hung out together often; eventually, she became the kind of childhood friend you’d sit on the sofa with for hours on a Saturday not really doing anything other than eating lots of Gogurts and unconsciously enjoying the purity and innocence of youth. I was friend-zoned early but in all honesty I didn’t mind (and only really realize it now). The emotional connection we shared was different than anything I had ever experienced at the time. On a brisk October Tuesday afternoon, she called to tell me she was diagnosed with Leukemia. She was very relaxed about it, without tears or anxiety. I still believe she didn’t know what was going on. I tried to comfort her but she didn’t want to focus on that when we spent time together. Months passed and she underwent various treatments. The thought of being there for her and supporting her more than her other “friends” made me feel like I had a purpose, a mission, even an empirically quantifiable model of success: her getting over leukemia. She and I would skip classes together to go to her “doctor’s appointments” since she “couldn’t really drive and needed a driver for safety”. We would stop to get milkshakes on the way back to school, and blue razzberry slushies from the gas station on Fridays. I would be lying if I said I didn’t grow to love this girl. As she got worse, I was at the hospital every day by her side. Her other “friends” were mysteriously absent. One day I caught myself thinking “If only she can get over this, she and I can go to college together and maybe even get married – really have a true life together.” I had fallen for her. Pinned on her was my future, my desires, and my first sense of deep love for someone else.
On Wednesday at 4:54 PM, March 12th, my birthday, Amanda passed away. Sitting quietly and motionless on my empty sofa, I realized she was the only person I had ever truly loved, as much as a naive 18 year old can love anything, yet it was the one thing I never told her. I try not to blame myself for not telling her what all the movies tell me every young girl wants to hear, but at 18, death is such an unamalgamated idea and death mixed with love is a cancer in itself. Now married with a child on the way, I can’t help but sit on the sofa holding my wife whom I dearly love, and thinking guiltily to myself “Amanda, I love you.”