January 3, 1996, after the rush of dismissal,
I stood outside the school entrance
flirting with the boy who rejected me
but would eventually become my first love.
Sirens in the distance grew louder,
emergency vehicles pulling into the stadium.
We glanced in that direction for all of a second before
quickly refocusing our gaze on each other.
When someone from the stadium walked by us,
looking a little green around the gills,
my stomach clenched
with the knowledge that something terrible
was happening a few hundred yards away.
I don’t remember what the stranger told us.
I only remember the feeling,
glancing toward the stadium,
praying you were okay,
all the while telling myself
how ridiculous I was being
so that I had an excuse not to
leave the comfort of my companion.
But I couldn’t concentrate on what he said.
All I could think of were the last words
you said to me in math class that morning.
That you didn’t look well.
That you didn’t seem yourself.
For a long time
I felt guilty for being ruled by hormones
while you lay dying across the parking lot.
I know now, though,
that it was for the best,
that it’s better to remember how you
made me laugh that morning
instead of how you looked
to your teammates
as you took you final breath.
Your heart was too big.
That’s what the M.E. concluded.
Anyone who knew you
could have told her that.
is what I remember.
The pain and sorrow are
but flashes of memories.
Your too-big heart
is what remains in mine
and always will.