Ten years ago today was the last day I saw Tj alive. It is all still clear. We were just weeks away from junior year and I gave him clothes that I had bought for school, it was a tradition we did. I also borrowed his new Jack Johnson cd and by borrowed I mean stole LOL. I made him a healthy smoothie before finding out he just had a milkshake from Chick-fil-a, we joked around, he drew a picture of him surfing with a shark in the water, and then he took my little sister to swim practice. That was it, the last time I would see him before his car accident the next day. There has been many dark times in my youth but this segment was the hardest to get through. I remember feeling so alone, to the point of taking my own life. I remember feeling so lost. It took me a year to stop thinking to call him and tell him about something. Death is so tough. It’s a brick wall that your mind can’t wrap around, can’t go around, just keeps running into over and over again with the same truth every time. You can’t fix or undo it and nothing truly takes your mind off of it. But in these dark time, God revealed himself over and over.
I choose to put a flower at our favorite surf spot as kids rather than the cemetery. I know he isn’t here but he is more here than he is the cemetery. Tj was my boyfriend in middle and high school. He was my best friend more than anything. He showed me so much kindness, patience, and shared his love for God. He saw each person for their strengths. It’s like he was blind to weaknesses or flaws. He truly loved people, kept no record of wrongs, and never judged.
I didn’t know how to accept or give back love. I was never taught to feel worthy, and it almost seemed like a joke when I came into contact with such goodness. “This isn’t real, this won’t last, his going to end up being awful, don’t trust him.” These were all mentalities that were instilled in me. I had never seen what a healthy relationship looked like growing up. So me, knowing how to love correctly was a shot in the dark. Like asking someone who has never seen a sunset to paint a sun set. But through it all Tj stuck by my side. I knew because of his example what a good guys was. My father and step father were no longer in my mental dictionary of what a “Man” should look like. My mind was forever reset. I wasn’t raised in a religious household. It was actually very broken. My step father was also an atheist and often left anti religious books around the house. So in many ways the odds were stacked against me having a relationship with God.
Tj was one of my lights and church became my safe place. Somehow I have always been blessed with friends that are difference makers. There are some people that will come into your life, put their hands on the steering wheel and redirect you for the better. Don’t give them friction and don’t be afraid of love. Its better to have love and lost then never have loved at all. Never take those people who want to steer you onto a better path for granted. Be grateful for anyone who wants good for you, encourages you, and brings out the colors of your soul. They are not a dime a dozen, they are treasures. They are the kind of people you will miss the most. Never feel so ashamed or attached to your darkness that you are unaccepting of light. He was such a light in a dark place and his story will forever be apart of mine.
I still have so many questions, but I know he has so many answers. I’m not sure if Tj was born to die at just 16 years old in a tragic car accident. But I do know that God can make the most beautiful painting with the ugliest colors. He just needs us to be a canvas.