Wednesday, April 16, 2008


when i tried to sit down and write this last year, on the first anniversary, i couldn't.
the tears flowed so heavily that i couldn't even see the computer screen.
the words weren't ripe yet.... it was too soon.

in this season of quiet in my heart, where i have been trying to sort through some sadness in my life , the words have finally come.
i told your sister i would write about you. and now it's time.

when she called me that morning and told me, she was so calm.
i didn't believe her at first. but then i understood. i think we all knew it was coming.
all my childhood memories of us came flooding back....

the most prominent, when you really established a permanent place in my heart, was a time when we were sitting in my bedroom together.
i was crying because my big sister had locked her door and wouldn't let me come in and play with her and your sister.
i thought she was trying to steal my friends.
you put your arm around me, looked in my eyes, and said,
"don't worry, amy. no one will ever steal me away from you."
that's just how you were. even though you were younger than me, you wanted to be my protector.

we spent almost a decade together, trodding back and forth on the forest path that we had made to connect our farms.
one day, while playing in the hundreds of acres of woods, we stumbled upon our special place and we named it 'paradise'.

it was a little clearing in the woods, where water pooled beneath a small, trickling waterfall.
it was our secret spot. we gathered old flowers that people dumped at the back of the cemetery and placed them in the ground, and weaved them through tree branches.
we cleared the brush and thorns away. it was beautiful and magical to us. we spent almost every day there.

but when we were older, my family moved away. your family stayed.
our paradise got overgrown, and the thorns grew back.

we talked regularly, wrote letters, and visited. we grew up.
you grew into a tall, handsome, caring young man.
but we both struggled with inner turmoil and poor life choices in our later teen years.
during those years, i thought the best way to deal with my problems was to run from them.
i ran away from home, and ended up on your front porch once.
your family took me in, and provided comfort and reassurance. my parents knew i was safe there.

once again, you acted as my protector.
we spent long evenings on the couch, talking into the wee hours of the morning.
we talked about the realities of growing up, our disappointments, the bittersweetness of it all. we longed for our innocent, carefree days of childhood.

one morning, after a very late night, i awoke to hammering.... and found you outside, hammering a dent out of my car that had been there forever.
you wanted to surprise me before you left for work.
you tried to give me your hard-earned money during my stay, because you knew i had little.
you brought me gifts to cheer me up. you wanted to know i'd be okay.

eventually, i garnered the courage to return home. i was able to sort through my problems, heal, and take control of my life again.
but, dear alex, you weren't so lucky.
i'm not sure what the difference was.

i guess big boys don't cry.... they just turn reckless to hide the pain inside.
you fell into the oppression of that area where we grew up.
you turned to drugs.
and the next time i visited, i found you in a place that scared me deeply.
all i could do was plead with you and pray.

shortly after returning home from that last trip, i received news that you were in jail.
i wrote to you..... probably one of the longest letters ever.
and you wrote back, and sent me a picture of you and your family.
you said it was the only picture you had with you in jail, but you wanted me to have it.
you ALWAYS wanted to GIVE...... that was your true heart.
we wrote regularly during that year.
you wrote of your regrets... and your hopes and dreams for when you got out.
you were confident that you could reclaim your life, and i believed you.

those letters were our last regular correspondence. you got released early for good behavior.... and you started your own roofing business. you began carving out a life for yourself, and working to find inner peace. but you were never quite able to find it. but it wasn't drugs anymore.... it became speed. your dad warned you about your motorcycle, and your recklessness on it.
he even called my dad and voiced his fear for you.

and one evening, almost two years ago, your dad's fears were realized. a beautiful soul, taken too soon.

' i got the call today....
my childhood friend has gone away.
he took that ride that took his life...
friend, i hope you've found your paradise.'

Alex (1978-2006)

Rest in peace, Alex....


lamamanaturale said...

Wiping away tears! That was beautiful. I love your poetry!!! :)On a bright note, I wanted to invite you to my EARTH DAY prizes...!!! Hope you'll check it out!

Christianne said...

i'm so sorry, amy. what a precious letter. this story made me sad for alex, and for you. love to you . . .

Sarah said...

This is gorgeous...I can see how much you loved him.

photowannabe said...

I love the look into your soul. This is a beautiful tribute to a true friend. Thanks for sharing it with us. I hope Alex found paradise too.

Anonymous said...

I am wiping the tears now. I had no idea that Alex had died. This makes me very sad. Oh how I do appreciate your words though. I remember your ending up at our house once too. How do our teenage years get so messed up? Love you, Emily

bluemountainmama said...

emily... i know i stayed with you when i came back for homecoming. but i may have stayed during one of the later trips back, too. i don't quite remember.

and yes, alex had a fatal wreck on that stretch of road between our farm and town two years ago. it was quite the tragedy....

Susan said...

A beautiful story straight from the heart, thanks for allowing all of us this glimpse into your thoughts on this sad day. I wonder if the previous post was also about this special friend?

The fact that you can write this means the healing process is well underway. Enjoy your memories.

June said...

Such a touching tribute.

Granny Sue said...

This one hurts, even for those of us who didn't know Alex. Your love shines through the words, and like the old African story tells us, no one is truly gone as long as one is speaking his name. Keep speaking it, and remembering your friend.

disciple of the forge said...

I have never read a more beautiful devotion to a friend. It captures the purest love of the friendships of our youth, which carry us through adulthood.

Terri said...

Oh, my. What a beautiful tribute to a dear friend.

Anonymous said...

I love it! My brother was such an amazing guy! It makes my heart soar to hear the wonderful way he is remembered by his friends. I know Alex was difficult sometimes but in the end he loved his friends with all his heart and if you weren't his friend you wanted to be. I love you Amy, thank you!

bluemountainmama said...

i love you, too! and although alex could be somewhat pesky when we were young, his and i's relationship was never difficult. except when he would borrow my new bike and take off down the hill with it, and jump off at the bottom and let the bike wreck in the ditch. i used to get so mad at him b/c he bent it up so much. but then he always fixed it! :)

and yes, he DID love his friends. he was probably one of the most loyal and protective friends you could find..... maybe even to a fault.

Beth said...

Oh, this brought me to tears. I'm so sorry that you lost your friend Alex. What a beautiful tribute you wrote to his memory. I hope that you and his family continue to heal from your loss.

kirsten said...

amy, i am so moved my yours words, i feel tears welling up within me. what a tender & moving tribute you've written - and writing it as a letter, reflecting back to him the small & unselfish ways in which he loved you, in which he gave from himself to make you feel safe, & loved, & good.

rest peacefully, sweet alex.

simplybrandy said...

I'm so sorry you lost such a dear friend. I hope you're finding peace in your memories. Clearly, you loved him deeply. :*-(

bluemountainmama said...

i did love him, and his family, deeply. they were such an integral part of my childhood. i barely have a memory from my growing up in KY that he or his family is not a part of.

Anil P said...

People don't return, memories do. People don't stay, memories do.

And then memories become people.

bluemountainmama said...

anil... you always have something beautiful ad insightful to say. thank you....

:..Rebekah..: said...

How lovely. Thank you for sharing your heart. The glimpse always seems to touch mine.