There is a time and place in everyone's life when they begin to question the purpose of it all; and I think anyone who has reached or passed this age will know exactly what I mean. That first moment, that first thought, when you think "who am I? Why am I here? What should I do about it?"
My moment was Tuesday, April 18th in the year 2008. I had turned sixteen long ago and life was incredible; I could drive, I could be careless and not worry about dealing with the consequences, and the greatest of all was I had fallen in love.
Her name was Jessie. God, Jessie was beautiful; not in the physical aspect, although she was far from ugly, but in the aspect of the soul. The beauty judged before God; such pure, divine beauty that swept you into her endless, dewy eyes and never let you go.
I first saw her at Lincoln Elementary School on Ram Drive, just south of our home town's post office. She, like me, was dropping off her younger sibling; we looked at each other and everything clicked, as though we were magnetized. I found myself admiring the grey knitted cap she sported that completely covered her head, the tactful way her coat swept itself over her scrawny frame and how her finger-less gloves held on with dire love to those small, fragile hands. When she smiled at me, I couldn't help but blush in response, looking down at my frayed jeans and tennis shoes. I never saw her approach nor did I hear the quiet breathing that matched the beating of my heart. All I knew was when I looked up, those long black lashes were brushing against her skin, those dewy eyes crinkling with her smile.
While I stared at her, marveling the fact that someone like her even existed, she told me her full name with the pomp of a zealous preacher: Jessica Mah-ree Brown, with the preference that I call her Jessie or nothing at all. With a smile, I responded with "Hello Nothing At All. My name is Isabelle Rosemary Todd, but you can call me Rosie or Nobody."
That was our thing; she was Nothing At All and I was Nobody. We held hands in front of that God-fearing school, I asked her out in the parking lot of that God-fearing school and that God-fearing staff of that God-fearing school kicked out both our siblings to prevent "the spread of gay among its pupils"
That was July 6th, 2006. We were inseparable, Jessie and I: when she told me her secret, the secret I guessed but never voiced, the secret that voiced every fear I had about losing her, I swore and punched a hole in the wall.
"The doctors said I could live up to my 30's before any serious consequences are even going to be considered," she tried to tell me, to calm me. "Cancer can be managed, just like any other disease. Nobody, please, just look at me, I'm still the same girl I was ten minutes ago, what's so different now?"
"What's the difference?" I was raging, I was crying, I was furious, I was broken-hearted. I collapsed on the floor, shaking with the screams and sobs that racked my body. Jessie stood up, tugging at the new portable oxygen dispenser that tried to ease life into her dying lungs, and sat beside me, holding my hips in her fragile arms. I turned to her and placed my head on those weak, pale shoulders and whispered "the difference is that I know, one day, all too quickly, I'm going to lose you and there's not a damn thing I can do about it."
She had nothing to say, knowing in that optimistic heart of hers that in the, end there was nothing to be done to stop my words from being true; but the silence and the rocking told me all I dreaded knowing.
Jessie left me April 18th, 2008: I was holding her hand and she smiled at me, tears in her eyes. "Nobody" she whispered, because that was all she could manage to do now. "I am so scared."
Swallowing the pain I felt clawing at my heart, I told her that death was nothing to be afraid of, that it was something that was going to come for us all in the end anyway. I told her that God was loving and that someone as good as she was bound to get an express ticket to His kingdom. She mustered strength that I didn't know she had left to shake her head at me, coughs punching my stomach and wracking that poor, all too thin, all too pale frame. "No, stupid, I meant I'm scared for you; I'm scared to leave you. I don't want to leave you."
With that, I cried and squeezed her hand. "You never will."
She sighed, knowing I was lying but yearning for it to be true, the same as I was. "I'm so tired..." She fell asleep then, pain still etched on her face, weariness never leaving those dark bruise-like shadows that suckled her eyes. It wasn't until that last moment when she gasped, for the last time, that the briefest look of peace came on her face, with a smile on her lips and a whispered "Rosie..." that she left me. When I screamed and begged her to come back, when the doctors rushed in and the nurses pried me off her still-warm body, I questioned the purpose of everything; there seemed to be none without her.
So on this day, April 19th, 2008, I plan to ask her. And whatever she tells me, I will tell her that the only reason she saw a purpose would be because I had returned to her: I didn't leave her alone all the way up there.
I'm going to ask her...