You Would Have Been 30 This Year
by H D Thompson
You were 19 when you were taken from the world. I was 18 and you were 19 and now I am 29 and you would have been 30. You have been gone for so long.
I’m not going to cheapen your memory by saying I think about you every day because I don’t. I think about you enough to know that you meant something to me. That you have impacted my life. I think about you enough to know that I think that we would still know each other, that I would be at your 30th birthday.
Before you died we discussed the idea of travel, to go overseas, to move, to see the world to get out of the town that we were stuck in, to get out of the town that we grew up in and had outgrown.
I am not naïve enough to think that I am the only one you made these plans with, but they meant something to me. A hope I had yet to find in the town that I was trapped in. A hope you had given me.
We made plans. We talked of seeing the world, of seeing Europe and seeing the magic the world had to offer. After you died, I broke a promise to myself because in the harsh landscape of tragedy little things seem to matter less. I broke a promise and carved your name into my skin. I gave you my right foot. I designed it myself despite, as you know, not being in anyway artistically talented, but I think you would have liked it. It is designed after our hero, a hero we shared who inspired us, because to me you were my hero and my inspiration, even if only in a slight way. You are my hero, my Buffy. Now the two of you are melded as one on my skin and I didn’t know much but doing this was the only thing that made sense to me in such a hard time.
I gave you my foot not because I wanted to hide you, but because I wanted to share you. I wanted to share you with my world, with the world you were now missing out on because you were taken from it. Because you had saved me. You saved me in a way I never got the chance to tell you because you were taken from me. Taken from us, from the world. And I think that deserves honouring, even in my own weird way.
I got you on my foot because when I eventually went out into the world when I eventually left the town we had outgrown, you would come with me. Every step I took from that point on you took with me. The life that I would lead from that point on, the life that you were denied, I would share with you. For how much you meant to me this was the very least I could do.
You would have been 30 this year, which is so old. You were taken at 19, and I was 18. Thinking of ourselves at 30 was thinking of ourselves as old. Now I’m 29 I see that that’s not true. I am older but I don’t feel old. I think about the things we would have done, the things we would have seen. Whether we would have shared them together or separately and then bonded over the memories. The things that you missed. The life that you could have had. How many other people’s lives you would have been part of. You were my friend and you were taken. There are things that I have seen and done that I wish you were part of or that I at least could have told you about.
I wish that I could have told you about my first kiss. I wish that I could have told you about the first time I had sex. I wish I could have told you about the first time I was in love. I wish I could have told you about the first time I survived the break in my heart, not caused by the car that killed you but by the common actions of a boy. I wish that we could have had the chance to swap these stories, as things people experience in their lives. Things they experience before they die.
Reading the eulogy I wrote for you at your funeral was the hardest thing I have ever done, but it was also probably the best thing I have ever written. I wish you could have heard the words that came from me, but they would never have come if you didn’t evoke them. They were brought out by the fire you lit in me that was in danger of dying when you were taken. This cruel irony haunts me and I wish you could have read the words I have written since. They haven’t been amazing but I think sometimes, even if only a few times, they might have made you smile.
I think about who you would be if you were 30. What you would wear, what you would dress like. Fashion was different a decade ago, would you have changed that much. I have changed so much. I was a shell of who I am now, and that is partly because of you. I was shy and lacked confidence. Cruelly, confidence I seemed to gain in the catastrophic wake of your death. I wish you could see who I am today, I think you would like me.
Would you still like the same music? I don’t really like the same music I liked back then. Tastes change over the span of eleven years.
I can’t hear Alanis Morissette’s Ironic without thinking of you and that time it came on the radio as we pulled into your driveway and we stopped the car and didn’t get out until it was over and we had drained our lungs of every breath we had. That song was my favourite song back then, and I still hold it dear to me but now for different reasons.
I think about the movies you have missed out on. How much TV has changed, and what you would have liked and what you would have hated. Would you have leaned in to the changing terrain or would we still be repeatedly watching Buffy and pining over Angel but secretly super into Spike.
I think about what you would have liked to drink at your 30th. Back then we heinously did Jager bombs in a bar that was a pub that brought out a DJ after dark who just played Ministry of Sound CDs. Victims of a time and place. I haven’t done a Jager bomb since. What I drink now is not what I drank then, and when the day arrived that you would have turned 30, I thought about what drink you would have held in your hand on that day.
I wish I had have known about your love and heartache. What you had achieved and lost. By the time you reach 30 you are meant to feel a sense of accomplishment. The only sense of accomplishment I feel is becoming a person I think you would have been proud of. I think we both might have been as big a fuck ups as each other. Or you could have conquered the world with that smile. You sure conquered me.
You touched so many people in the short time you were here, I can’t imagine what the world would be like having had you for all this time.
I lost my friend. I lost my friend when you died. I lost the life that I wanted with you in it. You weren’t even only just my friend. You were friends to so many, your funeral was a protest for the lives that were robbed of you. You were a daughter and a sister and a lover and so much more than just my friend and I think about the kind of daughter and sister and lover you could have been but because I am selfish I think about you as my friend and the friend you could have been.
You would have been 30 this year. You would have been 30. What would you think about you turning 30? Would you be terrified of getting older, or would you have been proud of reaching this milestone. I’ll never know if you would have been excited about entering your thirtieth year or not because you didn’t even get your twentieth.
You would have been 30 this year. I am 30 next year. I will get older and you will always be 19 and that is the way it is with life and death and the cruel cards they deal.
I wish I could have had a drink with you on your 30th birthday. A drink, a dance, a laugh, a smile. I wish that you could have had the life that you were denied, but life is life and death is death and it’s fucked that that’s that way it is. Til the day my feet no longer touch this earth you will walk with me, and you will live on through the people that knew you and even though you would have been 30 this year we still remember you and cherish what you gave us in the short time we had. I love you my friend. Cheers to a 30th that you never got to have.