When I heard the news that February day, I was devastated and cried harder than ever before. My homecoming date, Alex Lynch, had been in a car accident and died, along with a passenger. Not only did I cry for Alex, but for his friends, his parents, his two brothers, and anyone who knew him. The young man I had been talking to a few days before and gone with to many football games would not be coming back. He would no longer fill the seat next to me in my World History and English classes. He would never get married or have children. He didn't get to drive or go to college. I was empty. It was the worst, most indescribable feeling I have ever felt.
A month later, newspapers were still publishing articles about teen driving and road safety, listing Alex's name along with three other students from our school who had also died that year. Although I was still haunted by these memories, I was beginning to recover. Since the accident I had become closer to my friends and family. I am forever grateful for their kindness and understanding in my most confusing times. I don't know what I would do without them.
And then it happened again. On March 29, I went to school and sat through all my classes as I did every day. When I got home I was extremely tired, so I took a nap. When I woke, I called my boyfriend. The first thing he said was, "Did you hear what happened to Ryan?" He told me that my friend had been riding his dirt bike, fallen and died of severe head trauma. I didn't believe him. I didn't want to believe him.
Eventually I realized he was telling the truth. In his most sincere voice he said, "Baby, I'm so sorry." I told him I had to get off of the phone.
Ryan Randolph, whom I had met in geometry, the boy who would walk me down the hallway after class, the step-brother of one of my best guy friends, had died. Once again I had lost someone I cared about. I cried and cried until my voice was gone, my eyes hurt and I had a severe headache. I didn't go to school the next day. I couldn't.
That night as I cried, I felt a sudden urge to open my window and look outside. I was so confused, but there was one thing I knew. Alex and Ryan were there. There was no way that 15 years of life could simply disappear in a matter of seconds.
This thought brought a new round of tears and I threw my head back and looked up into the sky. I saw millions of stars flickering, some faded and some shining bright. That was where they were, I decided, that was the new Ryan and Alex. The flickering stars were a sign that told me everything would be okay. I know my theory might not make sense to anyone else, but I believed it. Then, more than ever, I needed something to believe in. Whenever I felt alone or upset I would look up to the sky and say hello to the friends I miss so much. My heroes.
In a world so cold and desolate, bad things happen and no one seems to care. Stars are simply something to believe in. A reminder that someone, somewhere does.
Dedicated to Alex Lynch 5/5/88-2/6/04
and Ryan Randolph 9/12/88-3/29/04
You are forever missed.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.