I was 17 and it was the weekend of my senior prom. I danced and enjoyed the evening and slept the sleep of a teenager when I got home before getting up around 3pm to spend time with the family.
I was reading and commenting on a blog entry by one of my best friends when the phone rang at 10:30pm. I was startled because all my friends knew not to call after 10pm because it peeved my parents. I grabbed the phone quickly so that it wouldn’t ring too much; it was another friend on the other end.
I don’t remember the sequence of the call. I was probably a little irritated because folks knew not to call, but then she said that Carrie was dead.
There’s a moment where all the feeling leaves your chest, and it’s just an empty void that’s left behind. You can’t quite comprehend what’s happening and you can’t quite process why, all you know is that it’s there. It’s almost like being punched in the chest and having the wind knocked out of you.
We finished talking - I don’t remember - and I went to tell my parents. There were more friends to call, to pass the word on so it wouldn’t come from the newspaper - one of whom had been waiting for her at the mall. The whole next week is moments of blurs and moments of sharp clarity. Finding out the details - a street sweeper going 40 mph in the rain lost control and veered into her car (the joke goes that of course it would be a strange way, because that’s who she was). The viewing. The funeral.
Carrie was one of my best friends through high school. She was giving and compassionate and creative - she loved to tell stories and write. She gave the best hugs. We had our angst, we had our fights, and we had grown. She’d just finished her first year of undergrad, was thinking about whether she wanted to be a teacher or a writer, finally back home for the summer and I was looking forward to spending time with her now that my AP tests were done.
I never got the chance.
Carrie taught me to always take advantage of today, because you never know what tomorrow will bring. I don’t put off visiting friends anymore. I always close a conversation with “I love you.” I give the hugs and I don’t care who’s watching.
I make no statements about an afterlife, but I firmly believe that as long as there are people here that remember us, our impact on the world doesn’t leave. She’s still here because I still remember - and I still share who she was and do my best to live by the example she gave.
It’s been ten years since that phone call. Miss you, Carrie. I love you and I’ll always remember.