Where I Say Goodbye

By Travis Kuhns, student, Center for Distance Learning

January 12, 2012

I start in my goodbye letter by saying how tragic a loss it is for the ones you left behind. The evidence was clear in the packed funeral home and the street choked with cars parked on either side. A lot of people loved and cared about you, it was easy to see.

I progress to verbalize the sentiment of the lamenting tears cried by so many as you were eulogized at the youthful age of 21; a collective air of untimely loss hung as heavy as water vapor in the humid summer air. But alas, here the divergence between the goodbye letter I wish I could write and the missive that needs to be written emerges.

I wish I could tell people how you overcame obstacles like losing your parents during infancy and fought down the demons of your addictions to make something great of yourself. But instead I’m relegated to the truth. You died because you injected more drugs into your body than it could handle.

Remembering the sweet, shy girl with gorgeous eyes I knew from middle school, it’s my delight to recount the cute quirk of fate or small-town coincidence that would have your Sunday school teacher later become your DARE officer. A story-book ending would be that his continuing counsel with you turned your life around. In its place, I have to say that in spite of acknowledging how many people cared for you and recognizing how much they wanted to help, you continued to abuse drugs and run ‘til the end.

In earnest I can say that there is a lasting and profound legacy you have left in me. While I would be remiss to omit the butterflies I remember having when around you and the times I fantasized about us being close, I would be doing a disservice to the truth to exclude the broken heart, shattered self-confidence and cynicism you caused by abruptly picking drugs and crime over me.

No matter how much the disparity between what I desire to say and what my conscience tells me to include, it is perfect truth to say that I will always remember you and cherish the moments I had you in my life. I copiously proclaim the unfairness of the world for taking you too early, but take solace in the fact that your own brand of suffering is over. Regretfully, I append that your death was a penalty for a lifestyle those of us left behind know you didn’t need to live.

In this goodbye letter you’ll never read, I nonetheless offer you my heart that was filled with empathy too late, a hug of forgiveness that can never be given, a sigh of lamentation that now serves no purpose and the wondering that will never cease. I wonder if I could have been the person to save you.

Travis Kuhns

Travis Kuhns

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