When he was gone, it was fast and unexpected. The feeling of being robbed was profound. I miss his beautiful, dark, witty, fierce and troubled presence. Forever linked to his loved ones, we talk at this time each year. "It doesn't get any easier," she says. We tell the same stories, laughing over his mischief and power in our lives still. He has remained present in my dreams, but sometimes, even when awake, I forget he is gone. I picture him visiting me, sitting down and eating cereal at my kitchen table, where he has never sat.
It has been 8 years, today, since one of the most beautiful people that I have known died. I met him when I was four. We shared laughs, conspiracies, secrets from the grown-ups, familial picking (like how loud I dragged my spoon through my cereal bowl) and countless quiet moments of mundane 'passing the day' type waiting. He was often sarcastic and confrontational and an instigator of all things trouble, but his defiance was mostly righteous. If he wasn't my hero, than he was my leader. In childhood angst, we shared the anticipation to be free of our dull domestic lives, our small town, and our family conflicts. We lived apart but side-by-side, watching each other's achievements and turmoil without drawn out conversations about them and championed one another without the other ever knowing. We even glimpsed romance briefly, but ever so briefly.