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I watched as Henry wet his lips and stared into his hands, clasped so tightly they had turned white.
Waiting for the proper words to form on his lips he stood in complete and utter despair hoping, wishing with the entirety of his being that he could come up with the right words to say.
Slowly raising his eyes to the memory that stood before him begging to be noticed, he spoke,
“My first memory of Anna was in kindergarten. I had never seen someone so beautiful, so…happy. She was laughing, laughing the kind of unrestrained, life filled, sheer, unadulterated, laugh of a child. It was the beginning of autumn and the fading light was filtering through the still-green trees. Her blond hair capturing the light, mussed, frizzy, and dirt-filled, was like a halo surrounding her.
From that moment on I knew. I knew that this happy, laughing, angel was meant for me.”
“This knowledge quickly manifested itself into an obsession. She was all I thought of, waking up in the mornings I thought of her, at school I watched her, at nights I dreamed of her. For years this continued, this watching and dreaming. Then, one day, she was there, standing in front of me. ‘I know you watch me’ as a seventh grade boy I was so embarrassed. What did I say to the confident goddess standing in front of me daring me to answer her? I opted for the very smooth, classy response of ‘huh?’ Tossing her hair over her shoulder and looking me in the eye, a very intimidating thing for a young, awkward, boy of thirteen, she said ‘I’ve been watching you watch me for years now, what do you want from me?’. Fortunately for me the bell rang at that moment prompting my furious retreat in to Ms. Cho’s English class and away from the emotional turmoil and social demise that was sure to unveil itself had I been forced to craft a response. From then on I limited my attention to a solitary glance every now and then. But she knew, my clever beautiful Anna had wised up to my love for her and in the summer of my sophomore year approached me again. Her hair had darkened since that distant kindergarten afternoon and so distracted was I by the strands that were escaping the bonds of her ponytail that I nearly missed what she said all together. As it was I had to ask her to repeat herself because the words she were speaking were so entirely baffling, ‘I said, are you doing anything tonight?’”
At this point the story stopped as the tears had begun to fall so rapidly he could no longer speak. Stumbling away for the podium he stopped in front of her coffin whispered one more goodbye and ran out.
When I opened the door to Henry and Anna’s apartment I couldn’t see but two feet in front of me; this was due only to the light of the hall that was spilling into the dark, quiet, room. I closed the door behind me and waited for my eyes to adjust. Slowly I began to make out the familiar sights within their apartment: the couch, the TV, the stove, and the kitchen table, which was piled high with bouquets and arrangements that Henry must have thrown on to it after the funeral. I slowly made way across the wood floor, heels clicking, in to Henry’s study.
He was sitting in his favorite leather chair. Just sitting there, staring off into the gloomy darkness. As I stepped closer his head snapped up.
“Anna” he gasped out in shock and desperation.
“Anna is that you?” he implored.
He was struggling to get up trying to reach me.
“Henry” I said softly, “Henry its Meg”.
His struggling stopped and he deflated, falling back into his chair.
“Henry do you remember where we were last night?”
He looked right through me.
Before I could ask him anything more. A horrible animal wail came from somewhere deep inside him, and then he was crying. Great sobs racked his body as he unclasped his fist. Within his big, rough hand was his gold wedding band.
That was when I went to him.
We sobbed into each other’s arms. Bonding over the loss of such an important figure in our lives; he, crying for the loss of a wife, and I crying for the loss of a sister.
Bonding over the loss of our best friend.