far-away friend

my far-away friend, it’s been years

since i’ve seen your smile

a dimple on each side, under the perk of your lips

the scrunch of your nose and the flash of a grin –

when i try to recall what made you laugh so much

i know it’s easier to decipher what you couldn’t find joy in

 

i want to ask if you still remember the time we almost

got hit by a car

when we just wanted to get to home base

and we tore through the trail

curb to curb

skidding past every sidewalk

until –

the bumper of a white Honda Civic screeched 

to a halt

just inches away from our hips

like a snapping alligator waiting in the muck

we screamed and laughed all at once

running away from death

like we had him fooled

 

a summer of sweat and tears

and soft-spoken complaints

even when i could see darkness starting to dull your eyes

all you ever effused was yellow gold

dripping sunlight

sweet sweet lemonade

quenching our thirst after a long run

 

i’m sorry i pretended not to see the sharpness

of your bones snagging through the curve

of your sleeves

i’m sorry i never reached out again,

asked about your knees or your puns –

whether either of them were still poppin’

as wholesome as you were,

i knew the illness was eating you up

flesh

to skin

to bone

until all was left was a soul.

 

my far-away friend,

you may not remember my name or how much you helped me

but i am one of many who will never forget yours.

dearest brittany –

a fighter, a sun, an endless sea of joy,

i pray you’re in a bed of clouds,

smiling

and laughing

and running

and resting

in peace.

 

Dedicated to Brittany Heinz


I met Brittany through cross country in high school. She was a junior and I was a freshman. I was really slow and she was often injured so we kept each other company at the most unconventional times. I wasn’t exaggerating in the poem; her smile could bright up any room and it made me feel better knowing she was by my side when I was having a trouble completing runs. (I can’t find a picture of us in the setting that I remember her most by, but I did find a picture of us after a blood drive. She’s the one in the second row, black shirt white shorts, third from the left). I was never super close to her; we never hung out outside of practice or clubs, but she was a great friend and truly, a wonderful person, whose presence was always treasured even by the most acquaintance-like, far-away friend like me.

We’ll miss you. Rest in peace, beautiful.

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Red Cross Blood Drive, May 2014

Her family has set up a fundraiser to raise awareness for eating disorders, which is what she suffered through. Click this link: https://honor-a-loved-one-for-neda.everydayhero.com/us/in-loving-memory-of-brittany-heinz?fbclid=IwAR0L5C1bxPHgLKDU9tfht2_dmzVkqQsL73uZgAvh-zYt9ngDnSrxbgnT3ds to donate

 

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