Posted by: rachelok | January 22, 2012

In 2011, I stood graveside and helped bury my first love.
Sometime in 1997, I was at a school party/dance/band thing with a good friend. He tapped the guy in front of us on the shoulder. The guy turned around. That was it.
For our first date, the day before Christmas eve, he took me sledding at night. We said ‘I love you’ for the first time to each other. We went to prom together. I stood next to him in all his graduation photos. He kept a bottle of bleu cheese dressing in the fridge at our house, spending more time cooking with my mom and I than at his own house. He told me I was better than strawberry milk and chocolate cookies, and I believed him.
We broke up. We grew apart. We’d still run into each other, and it still hurt every time. When he left he was going to be an engineer. He ended up being a drop out, covered in tattoos, making drinks and in a band. What mattered? He was happy. The last time I saw him was on 9th street in Lawrence, outside the Pig. We briefly chatted. I wish now I had scooped him up, stuck him in my purse, and kept him safe from his demons.

I knew the pictures they had posted. I felt like the him I knew was the him they still knew and held onto. Nobody would blame them for that.
Fact is, he killed himself. That sucks. It’s selfish, but I get it. I’ve been that dark before, but have managed to always hold my breath till the other side. He, evidently, ran out of air before he could surface.
Hardly anyone made it back for his funeral. We had a pack of 4. One was an old friend of mine, who had known Matt for even longer, hardly a childhood memory without him in it. We circled this silly little town for a couple of hours, crying and laughing and crying and being sad and grateful and joyful and heartbroken…all within the same sentence, sometimes.

Everything’s ok, it’s just a loss that hits me sometimes out of the blue. There’s a fresh stab when I suddenly remember that he’s just not here anymore. There’s no soup can device to facilitate the existential communication that I need to calm my tummy. So I have to sleep on it. Hope on it. Find peace in it.

Thanks for giving me ears.

And, until I can muster the gonads to bust out those photo albums again and share some real photos, here’s one of he and his best friend, Brandon. We were all in high school and completely invincible.



  1. hang in there sweetie, we will all meet again!

  2. I know, thank you! Love you, Josh!

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