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Men Don't Cry
Nine o’ clock came and went… likewise ten, eleven, and twelve. I knew she was gone. My white button down shirt swayed rapidly as I pelted down the slick staircase to her apartment door. With two fists clutched so tightly, ten fingernails clawing two slick palms, and one voice that screeched her name, I pounded insanely on apartment #3’s door. After twenty minutes my voice was screeching and my body was quivering like one’s will do after sobbing consistently. I let my back, wet from the rain, slide down her door and smashed my face into my hands. After two hours of pure misery, I wiped my tears with my forearms and took one last look at apartment #3. Shut up, men don’t cry.
I stood out in the middle of the road, hands in my jean pockets, and took a look at the old stoop where we first met, just…remembering. The traffic lights were changing from red to green to yellow, an old woman was walking a dog, but other than that downtown was basically asleep. So, I screamed. I screamed her name as loud as I possibly could, and watched my icy breath stream from my mouth, the breath I wished I could give to her. An old pickup truck suddenly plowed through the red light and nearly killed me right then and there.
“What the heck you think you’re doin’, boy?!” the driver exclaimed. “Sorry, man,” I replied, shaken up, rattled, running my hands through my hair like James Dean. “Somethin’ troublin’ you?” he asked. “No, umm,” I began and then started to chuckle a little, realizing how stupid I must look standing in the middle of the road, screaming like a lunatic. “Just thinkin’ about some construction project on the building,” I finally added. The man did not look convinced, but nevertheless, spit out some old dip, hit the gas and ran another red light up the road where Maple Street meets Main.
Just as I was about to leave, I noticed a white envelope protruding from one of the cement blocks. My name was written in sloppy cursive but most of it had been washed away from the rainstorm. At the sight of this, my heart stopped completely.
Collecting this treasure and wiping the stray ink on my pants, I ran as fast as I could. Walking up five flights of stairs would take too long and I needed to read this letter as soon as I could. So with that, I placed one foot on the ledge of apartment #2’s window and the other on the metal fire escape and began to climb. After slipping quite a few times I finally made it to my window and to my bed. Ripping the envelope fiercely, as though any extra time I took could mean the death of me, I read the note.
If you’re reading this, by now I’m gone. I wanted to tell you in person, really I did! But I couldn’t do it without crying and I knew that’d just might make you cry, too. The doctor called yesterday and well…doesn’t look like I’m gonna pull through this time. My cancer’s at its last stage so my parents are checking me into one of those clinics up in the Appalachians. It sure isn’t gonna cure me, but, I don’t know, might be nice to be surrounded by the one place on Earth that reminds me of heaven. Guess I’ll find out about heaven soon enough, though.
Now I don’t want your pity, don’t want anybody’s pity, that’s just not what I’m after. I just…I just want to know that you love me. I want you to remember me as I was before this disease started spreading so rapidly. Remember me as the little bright-eyed girl curling her toes and punching your arm when you would crack a joke about me. Remember our first slow dance to “Iris” when I buried my head deep in your chest and somehow managed to forget about dying. You made the last five months of my life the best five months of my life.
The cancer is taking my body, but being apart from you is taking my everything else. I just…can’t let you see me like this. I don’t want you to remember me as I am right now, weak and frail. I want you to remember me as the little ole’ spit fire, independent girl that could whoop you at arm wrestlin’ any givin’ time.. If you remember me like this, then maybe I won’t die at all…least not to you.
I have to wonder if heaven will be heaven, without you, that is. Without staring into the two dearest eyes I’ve ever seen on God’s green Earth, without that smile of yours that kills me more than this cancer ever could.
Do you remember when I was reading The Notebook last night? Well, I was just reading one part over and over again. When I die, please know that this is how I felt about you, Nicholas Dean Williamson.
“I am no one special. There are no monuments dedicated to me and my name will soon be forgotten. But in one respect I have succeeded as gloriously as anyone who ever lived. I've loved another with all my heart and soul and for me that has always been enough.”
Life is precious, so never take even one breath for granted. Someday you’ll come to the end like me and wish for just one more. Dean, always be the man God made you to be and remember that our love is stronger than even death itself.
With unfailing, enduring, immortal adoration,
I had known about Jenny-Lynn’s cancer for sometime now and I knew about the clinic possibility…just never thought this day would come. So I stole The Notebook from my sister’s bookcase, jumped in my Jeep and set out to check every single clinic in the Appalachians. I flew around curves, exceeded speed limits and cried all the way from Georgia to Virginia. I would read this to her, tell her that she is still the most beautiful woman in the whole wide world and make her last few minutes on Earth…her very best minutes on Earth.