The last thing I said to her before she passed away was "I Promise". That was two years and fifty-eight days ago, instead of talking to you about what happened, let me show you.
Two forty-five p.m. is my favorite time of day, school is finally over. Now, I am a creature of habit, always have been. Every day after school, I go over to the gas station across the street before going home. Sandy, the owner of the store, says the same thing to me every day without fail, today was no different. With a big ol’ grin, she said, "You know you’re going to start to bleed that stuff, you hear?”. I just pulled out a dollar from my wallet, handed it to her, and gave her a smile. Now that I had my daily drink I was ready to go home, which is around a five-mile walk. Oh, before I forget to mention, my favorite drink is Dr. Pepper.
I walked out of the store without looking where I was going and I ran straight into her. She had brunette hair and ocean blue eyes. Her skin was not too tan and she wore converse shoes and Abercrombie clothes. When we collided, we both watched as everything we had went all over the ground. We both knelt to the ground to pick up our things and when she looked up at me and our eyes met for the first time, it felt as if I'd known her my entire life. At that moment, I knew that I loved her. It was not just because she was beautiful or her smile, it was something more than that When our eyes met, I knew in my heart that she was going to be in my life after that moment. It was truly love at first sight.
I forgot how to speak momentarily and managed to stutter out, "Oh my God! I'm so sorry! I didn't mean to do that". She replied, laughing, "It's okay! Really, it's no trouble". After telling her who I was, I asked her what her name was, and she said it was Sarah. After getting up off the ground, we started walking together. We talked about everything imaginable; about where we grew up, about our families, about our thoughts and passions… While we were walking down the road, she suddenly looked at me with the biggest smile possible. She screamed, "Come with me!" She darted up the hilly pasture toward an oak tree surrounded by daisies. I ran with her and when I finally caught up, she turned to me and said, "Look around and tell me what are you thinking about right now!” I was shocked when I looked around and saw how peaceful and beautiful everything was and I replied, "I'm thinking about how I want to remember this moment for the rest of my life". She smiled at me and said, "I was thinking that exact same thing. This is the only place where daisies are around here and they’re my absolute favorite!" I bent over, picked a daisy out of the ground, and put it in her hair right above her ear. She smiled at me and then at the blink of an eye, she lunged forward and she kissed me. Now, most people say that the first kiss is over-rated, but when she kissed me time stopped and the only thing that mattered was her and I. It was truly as if anything in my life before that moment meant nothing because she was not there with me. That kiss captured my heart and started the most amazing relationship of my life.
After we kissed, I took her hand and walked her home. When we reached her porch, her mother was sitting there with the biggest grin on her face. Apparently, we were adorable together from the start and her mother was right. From that moment on, Sarah and I did everything together from homework to going on adventures. She said this all the time to me, “If we don't take advantage of our lives while we have them, then life isn't worth living”. To this day, I still can hear her saying that to me as if she were right next to me.
I remember how her and I walked to school together each morning. School was never the best time for Sarah. She always did amazing in her classes and got straight A's, but for some reason other kids always found it necessary to make fun of her for how she dressed or they called her a loser for studying all the time, etc... I never understood why and still do not. However, the one thing that she always looked forward to in school was lunch. My God, how she loved to cook. She would make me cupcakes, cakes, brownies, and everything in-between and bring them to lunch for me. She even tried to make me a Dr. Pepper cake a few times. It didn't work at all; tasted horrible, but it is the thought that meant everything to me. If I had one meal to ask for before I died, it would be her Dr. Pepper cake. Not because of the taste but because it would have been made by her and I can still see that big o’l smile she had on her face when I ate it.
I call moments that I was with her adventures since no matter what we did, it was always exciting because we could always find a way to keep ourselves entertained. We could do the most boring thing on the earth and I'd still be the happiest man in the world because she and I would be doing it together. The very first adventure we had was the day after we kissed. I had gotten my Dr. Pepper from the store after school like usual, went out the door, and there she was waiting for me. She had done up her hair in a ponytail and was wearing a “Plain White T’s” shirt, tattered blue jeans shorts, and cowboy boots. She was so breathtaking that I couldn't help but to stare. She smiled and asked, "Can I take you somewhere?" and I was not really focused when she asked since I was still dumbfounded by her sight so I had this dumb, confused look on my face. Apparently, she noticed that because she pointed at me and shook her head back and forth like she just wanted me say yes and shut up. I listened to her and said yes. She grabbed my hand and started walking. She didn't talk and I was too nervous to speak so we just walked hand in hand until we reached a canoe at the lake-front. She told me to get in the canoe and when I did, she handled me a paddle and told me to take her anywhere. We were in that canoe for the entire day and I'm sure I just went around in circles, while accidently flipping the canoe once. We said maybe two words to each-other, but there was not a moment that went by that we weren't looking into each-other’s eyes. We didn't have to say anything to be happy. I was the happiest I've ever been when I saw her because I could see clearer than I ever had. What we felt when we looked at each other was love and that's all we needed.
I walked to her house after school the next day and I had the most distinct smile on my face. I bet that you could have seen me smiling from half way across the world that day. When I got to her house, her father was sitting on the old, wooden rocking chair they had on the porch. I shouted to him, "Howdy Paul, is Sarah home? I didn’t see her at school today.” He looked up at me for a moment and when he did, I saw the tears in his eyes. "Are you okay?” I asked. He replied, "Sarah's grandmother passed away this morning." As soon as I comprehended what he had said, I immediately felt pain. I could feel the same sadness he was as I had lost my grandma just 6 months earlier to Ovarian Cancer. I sat down on the porch and tried to provide comfort to him. Sarah and her mother both came out of the doorway to see him and I hugging. Sarah's mother took her father inside and Sarah ran over to me and wrapped her arms around me. She started to cry and whispered into my ear, "I'm so glad you're here". We laid down on the porch together for hours and I listened to her tell me stories about her grandmother the entire time. It was sad and I knew that no matter what I said, I couldn't bring her grandmother back. I did, however, make her smile a few times and sometimes that's all people need. When it was time for me to leave, I went inside for a moment to wish her parents well and her mother said, "Thank you and I hope to see you soon". Her father didn't say a word to me but he got up and hugged me for being there for him and his daughter and that said everything he needed to say. As I walked onto the porch, Sarah was waiting by the door for me. "Sarah, I have to go now. I'm so sorry and I'll be back tomorrow. I promise." She looked right into my eyes and said I love you for the first time then she kissed me and went inside. I will never forget that day for the rest of my life.
Everyone deals with death in a different way. Some cry, others get angry, or some just bottle up the pain. It took two days for Sarah to talk to anyone or come back to school. When she was back; she didn’t speak at all that day. I hated seeing her in pain knowing that I couldn’t do anything to fix it. Her mother picked her up after school so I walked to the store alone, got my Dr. Pepper, and walked home. The same thing happened for the next three days. She wouldn’t speak to anyone, got picked up after school and I walked home alone. It was only until the sixth day that she would talk to me. I woke up, went to school, tried to talk to her, and she still wouldn’t speak to anyone. During Lunch, I had to go to the restroom and when I went around the corner, Sarah was sitting on the floor crying. I stopped and took ahold of her hand. I helped her up off the ground and held her while she cried. When she stopped, she looked up at me, and said, “I’m so sorry” repeatedly. I looked at her for a second and then said to her, “You never have to say you’re sorry to me. I will always love you, no matter what.” While staring into her eyes, I noticed two things. That she was the most beautiful girl I’d ever seen even when she had mascara running down her face and that she needed to feel something other than sadness. I made her close her eyes, I slowly moved her hair behind her ear and then slowly kissed her. Her lips tasted like strawberries and she was literately my breath when we kissed. Our love was so powerful, that when we kissed, I swear it was like time stopped and the only thing in the world that mattered was us. That’s how it always felt from that moment on.
When school ended that day, I waited by her locker like I always do. She walked up to me with a smile and said, “Hey. Will you walk me home?” I replied, “I will walk anywhere if you’re there”. The road was rough that day and filled with gravel trying to give car tires more traction. The tree leaves were still a mix of green and yellow due to the mild weather in Tennessee. I didn’t notice it until we were about three minutes out from the school, but the sky was dark gray and instantly, we knew that it was about to storm. I told Sarah, “We need to hurry, take my hand”. She took my hand and we started to run. We didn’t have any books with us and she didn’t have a care in the world. She was wearing a white sundress, aviator sunglasses, with worn-out converse sneakers on. It started to pour and she let go of my hand, ran out into the street and started to dance. She was twirling around and all I could see was her hair flipping every which way and I couldn’t help but to smile the entire time watching her. She was in her own world and she was so peaceful in it. She ran up to me and allowed me to join her. “Dance with me!” she yelled. “I don’t have the first clue how to dance”, I replied. She looked at me, laughed, and said, “Me either! Now, take my hand, dance with me, and shut up” I took her hand, and we danced. In the middle of the street during the pouring rain, we held each other close and danced. Just so everyone is clear, I still cannot dance to save my life and I would give anything for her to tell me to shut up again.
Every couple has a distinct way of making sure the other knows how you feel about them. Some people say “I love you” every other sentence. Others fight non-stop about every little thing in their lives and make up later. We were just like anyone else. We fought about the dumbest things and always made up a few hours later. I told her that I loved her at least once a day because I wanted her to know how I felt about her, despite what would happen. No matter what I was doing, I always made time to make sure that she knew how I felt about her. When Sarah was busy or I was waiting on her, I used to talk to her mother a lot. She was a kind-hearted lady and always made deserts. If you were hungry she’d be in the kitchen either making food or grabbing it off the table within’ a minute. One day after school, I was waiting for Sarah to get out of the shower and get ready for the carnival that afternoon, her mother walked up to me and sat down. I looked at her for a moment and then said, “How are you today, Mrs. C?” She laughed and said, “I’m fine and I thought I told you to either call me mom or Rebecca!” I looked at her and smiled, replying “Yes ma’am you did.” She started to get up off the coach, but then said to me, “While you’re here, let me tell you a story”. I nodded, thinking nothing of it at the time. She said, “There was a boy who fell in love with a girl that was completely different than him. They both knew they loved each other from the moment they met. Sadly, she had to tell the boy who loved her that she had a terminal illness and didn’t have long to live. The boy didn’t run off and leave her; he did everything in his power to show just how much he loved her.” I looked at her, and didn’t know what to say. She started to laugh and said to me, “By the way, that was from the movie, A Walk to Remember by Nicholas Sparks, but I wanted to tell you the story because I wanted you to understand the message from it.” I do not want to ruin the movie or book for you so you can go read that on your own; however, what she wanted me to take away from the story was that no matter what happens, I should always try my best to show people just how much I love them and that I should try to love like they did. I laughed with her as she walked into the other room.
I ran up to her, kissed her, and said “Hey Angel! How are you?” She replied, “I’m amazing, are you ready to go?” I shook my head yes and we hopped into the car. Her brother, Bryan, was driving and his girlfriend, Ashley, was in the passenger seat. Sarah and I were in the backseat. We always played the letter game in the car, where you had to find a word starting with A, B, then C, and go through the entire alphabet until someone completes it. Sarah won almost exclusively every game and sure enough, she won that night as well. That was the last time we got to play that game.
About five minutes after the letter game ended, we got to a carnival. Out of the hundred dollars that I brought, I walked out with about 20 cents left. We went on every ride at least twice, maybe three times. I never liked the rides, but she had so much fun that I couldn't tell her. I just went along with it because it made her happy. I did, however, win her a huge stuffed teddy bear that she named Blocks because of how terrible the head was shaped. It looked like a two-year-old had made it. When we got done at the Carnival, we all decided that we wanted to head back over to her house to watch Forrest Gump because it is my favorite movie.
We were 43 minutes away from her house when it happened. Bryan had a few beers before leaving the carnival. We were in the middle of no-where and it started to rain. It was the worst rain I had seen in my life. The road was flooding and the fields next to us looked like ponds. You couldn’t see anything, even with high beams on. Bryan turned around to tell us a joke that he had told Ashley just minutes before. He only turned around for a split second, but when he turned around, the truck started to hydroplane. He tried to control it, but he couldn’t. The truck flailed around and slammed into a telephone pole. I woke up covered in mud in the middle of the street.
The rain had died down, but there was still water everywhere. I had no idea what had happened at first until I sat up and saw the hood of the car in flames. I had multiple cuts on my thighs, my back, and my shoulder and I could barely move my right arm. The first person I saw was Ashley, lying in the mud next to the truck, and I hobbled over to help her. She had hit her head hard against the ground and was not breathing. I started CPR immediately. She started to breathe again and told me she was okay. I then made my way over to the truck. I looked in the backseat and Sarah was not there. I made my way around to the other side of the truck to see her brother, Bryan, with a huge steel frame through his chest. He had died instantly after the crash.
I froze for a moment and then heard Sarah’s voice. She said, “Babe? Is that you?” I turned around to see her lying there in a puddle of blood. I dropped to my knees next to her and tried to stop the bleeding. I took off my shirt and wrapped it around the gash in her leg, only to find two more deep cuts. She whispered to me, “It’s so cold!”. I used every bit of strength I had to hold back my fear and I said to her, “You’re going to be fine, Sarah. I’m right here; you’re going to be okay! I swear.” I saw the tears forming in her eyes. She raised her hand to my cheek and said, “I've always loved you” She started to cough out blood. There was so much blood. I knew I couldn’t save her. I screamed, “Sarah! Stay with me! I love you. Please don’t go… please.” I held her in my arms as she took her last breath. She let go of my hand and her hand fell to the ground while Ashley was over at the truck screaming Bryan’s name. Sarah died two minutes and forty seconds before the ambulance got there. My soul mate died at 9:56 PM on January 6th, 2013.
After someone you love dies, everyone tries to understand how you feel. They try to comfort you and be there for you, but no one truly understands. I couldn’t sleep, couldn’t eat, and couldn’t breathe after her death. I stood in the shower for three hours. The blood had washed off, but I just kept washing as if it was still there. While standing there in the shower, I experienced the first flashback of hundreds that would end up haunting my sleep. I saw the entire night happen all over again in a matter of seconds. Seconds that felt like years. I think about what happened every day and try to figure out what I could have done to stop it from happening. I blamed myself for her death for over a year because I thought that I could have done something to save her. I think to myself, “If I would have gotten to her first, maybe she’d be alive”.
I laid in bed all day and didn't move. I stared at the ceiling for hours and cursed God for letting her die. I prayed for God to take me so I could be with her. I was basically dead after that night. I couldn’t pet my dog because it made me think of them playing fetch. I couldn't hug anyone because it made me cry. I couldn’t watch TV because it made me think of lying on the couch with her. I couldn’t sleep because she was not there in my arms. Every time I closed my eyes, she was there. She was wearing a white dress, had a bow in her hair, and she was crying. I remember screaming repeatedly trying to get her to hear me. I couldn’t help her stop crying or tell her it’d be okay. I just saw her crying endlessly.