It's hard, of course it's hard, but I think I may be coming to terms with it.
I have realized the reality of what happened to Stephen, and I can say his name without stumbling. I haven't tried filing through old memories yet...I'm not quite as brave as Whitney. However, I have had quite a bit of time to think about it in the past couple days.
I remember when Whitty first introduced us. We were both shy (can you imagine that?), and he was having girl troubles (my, how things change!). I tried to help him. Heh, I probably failed, but in the end, I gained a...boyfriend? How silly.
It's easy to say we seemed so young then; we were. Giddy as always, I toted his photo with me at all times, kept it in my back pocket until it was so worn down, you could barely discern his face. On the back were words from "our song." Wasurenaide tooku e hanarete mo itsudatte aishiteru yo. (Don't forget...even if we're far apart, I will always love you.)
The words have been coming back in the past two days, along with every type of love that I associated with him.
Yes, there was the romantic, which seems so silly to think back on now. But it was perfect. He was my mùirn beatha dàn. In a way, he still is, though the meaning has shifted slightly.
And then we were friends. There was a friendly love that kept us connected, though I had a difficult time dealing with the split. It was hard to see him in love with someone else, when I still loved him like I knew I shouldn't.
We kept going, though, as it sometimes seemed only he knew how to do. There was comfort in everything he said and everything he did. And, surely, he passed that to me, too.
Our friendship grew tighter, and there was an inseperable bond between us. He was my brother, my teacher, my peer, but above all this, he was my best friend. Often, it seemed our lives mirrored each other. Our highs and lows fell on the same line. In this, we were able to support and love each other unconditionally. I tried so hard to offer him the meaningful words he provided me, but most of the time it simply ended up as empathy.
Stephen was always encouraging me (I was not the only one, as I'm quickly seeing) to learn. He instilled an intense passion for languages in me, and was constantly pushing that to grow. Last year, he sent me a graduation invitation, his senior picture, and four language books -- Japanese, Russian, Italian, and Irish. Stephanie has the Italian one right now, and I sincerely hope it helps her. I almost feel like I could pass his passion through these books. I keep staring at the tape in the first chapter of the Irish book and laughing. I remember when he tried to scan the first chapter for me so he could help me learn Irish, but only ended up breaking the binding. We laughed for quite some time over that, and he ended up calling the book "Miki's Irish Book." I will be learning Gaelic this summer and next semester. I'm not sure I ever got the chance to share the news with him, but I know he'd be proud. He always was.
We had this whole trip planned. Our escape plan. We were going to travel to Europe, and visit so many places together, and find a nice place to live. Together, of course. It's easy to look back and say we always planned to be together and break down now, thinking how it won't happen. But, strangely, I feel slightly comforted. We always planned to be together forever, and I know we will. It's not the memories, or the loss of a body, the loss of a friend, a brother, a companion, a teacher, nor anything else he was to me that allows me to know he will always be with me.
Instead, it is the love he taught me to feel. Stephen showed me all forms of love, and it was through him that I learned exactly how love should feel in its many forms.
The loss of him has allowed me to realize how foolish I have been lately. I know now how crucial it is to love (as illogical as it may seem at times), and the only way I will be able to help him live is to do my very best to show the love he showed me to others.
And, should I ever feel the intense love I felt from Stephen again in this lifetime, I will know he is near.
Aishiteru, Stephen. Always and forever.