An Open Letter To Crystal (originally posted August 24, 2009…one day after she would’ve turned 33)

so where to start? Who am I writing this to? Crystal? Mom Charlie? Friends? Anybody on facebook? And who am I writing this for? Crystal? She doesn’t need it. She knows everything now. She can see inside my heart now, truly, and knows exactly what I think of her. So is it for Mom? She may not want to see it, and that should be respected. Is it for anybody on facebook? Might be an overshare. Hell, since when has that stopped me.

Or is it for me? Plain and simply, for me. For my own well being, for my own health, for my own sanity. Just another step in the process that is “closure”.

15 years. 16 years. 17 years, I don’t know. I did it for a long time. Every August 23rd. She’d get a dozen red roses and a phone call right at midnight. Or an e-mail or a text. Hell, back in the pager days she’d get a page from me at midnight! I’d sit there, waiting until just past 12am, and then I’d call or contact her some other way.

“Happy birthday Crystal. I love you.”

Every year. And she loved that I never forgot. She loved that I was always first, right at midnight. And every year I’d get a reply. “Thank you for never forgetting about me.” “I love you ******.” “Why are you so good to me?”

“Why are you so good to me?” Indeed.

Ya know, often when people die it is somehow decided, unspoken of course, that the deceased was a saint. A do-gooder who never did anything wrong, everybody loved and didn’t have any flaws. Suddenly no one has anything bad to say about the dead.

No one ever had anything bad to say about Crystal while she was alive. Crystal was not a saint. And Crystal had flaws. But ya know what? She was also the kindest person I knew. The kindest, sweetest, most giving, selfless, patient, soft spoken, most amazing person I knew. And beautiful. Such a beautiful girl. AND I SAID THAT TO HER WHEN SHE WAS ALIVE AND HEALTHY!! Constantly! Didn’t suddenly start when she got sick.
And it made her uncomfortable. Very. She didn’t understand why people loved her so much. She didn’t understand. She could never imagine that the guestbook at her memorial –where there is often one signature for one family of 4 or 5 or 6– would contain 743 signatures. She was amazed that last November at her fundraiser, more money was raised and more people showed up than had been raised or had ever showed up for anything at that bowling alley.

“I’m just me, mom. Why does he do it? Why does he send me roses every year? I’m nothing special. I’m just me.”

No, Crystal was not perfect, if nothing else because she often said silly crap like that! :”^)

She was special. She was the most special. From the moment I came back from my first surgery sophomore year of high school, to one of the last times I saw her in the hospital and she said through an oxygen mask, “He can come and go whenever he wants to because I said so!”, she showed me nothing but love. Pure, sincere, compassionate, innocent, deep, unimaginable love.

And I loved her too. So much. I would tell her “I’m obsessed. But fear not, you’re a healthy obsession.” And she’d giggle. And smile that perfect smile and wink that perfect wink. That wink that I first saw in high school when I came back from a surgery and I could feel someone looking at me. I’d look up and it was her. Head cocked to the left, just smiling at me. It would instantly make my heart happy, I would instantly forget about the half-shaved head, the baseball cap, the staples near the shunt incision. And I would smile back. And then she’d wink. The most gorgeous wink I’d ever seen. Later, she’d ask me how I was feeling…and she’d wait for the answer!! Imagine that?! She’d sit there and listen! Nobody did that! I had very nice people around me, good friends, a girlfriend that went through way too much with me….but Crystal, as a friend, went the extra mile. She would take that extra step to show you that she cared, that you mattered and you were important to her. That was just Crystal.

I remember even after high school when……………………..

Ok, so here we go. God has an amazing sense of humor. I wrote that last sentence and sat here and cried for a while, thinking of everything Crystal ever did for me, everything she ever said to me. Thinking about the many times she and I would sit at a table “eat lunch”. <—in quotes because that never happened!! Countless plates of food went uneaten as we just sat there and talked for hours and hours. Always just me and her, sitting across the table from each other. Connecting. Looking into the most beautiful blue eyes I’ve ever seen. And just….connecting.

So yeah. Been sitting here quietly crying. Remembering. Then I got a phone call. A wonderful friend of mine. A nice, smart, kind lady. And she said some good stuff about “processing things”. I’m tellin’ ya it was the freakiest thing. Perfect timing. Proving once again that God has a good sense of humor.

So, rather than go on and on about Crystal, telling stories that are just mine to have and shouldn’t be shared anyway, here’s what I think I’ll do….I’m posting this. I’ll check in with Mom, get her permission…just seems like the right thing to do….and then post this. Maybe I’ll wait until we get closer to her actual birthday, maybe even after her birthday, who knows, then I’m posting this. This is the “for public consumption” official Crystal blog entry.

But for now, oh dear god I’m gonna go find something else to do!! I need a distraction. I need to occupy my mind, occupy my time and my energy on something else, something positive and happy and maybe even fun.

Then maybe later…..much later….not on her birthday….maybe not even near her birthday, maybe just some random day in October or something, the middle of November, I don’t know……writing something for me. Writing something that no one will see. Atleast not in cyberland in any way shape or form. I felt, I still feel, like I need to write stuff down. But maybe I still need to think. I mean my god, it’s only been 6 months! That’s nothing! That’s not enough time to process anything. It’s enough time to stop going crazy and stop crying every day, but it’s not enough time to really figure out what one thinks about anything!

So I won’t figure it out. I won’t write it down. Because after all….she knows. Now she knows. Now, with her Heavenly eyes, watching over everybody, now she really and truly knows what I think. She even has a better idea of what I actually think than I do! She knows all the words I can’t find. She now knows exactly how I feel about her, exactly how I felt about her, what her friendship actually meant to me, how important she was and still is in my life. She knows.

Shit. Well I guess in that regard I don’t even have to write anything down. Atleast not for her. Just for me. And for no one else. Cool.

Happy birthday Crystal. “olive juice”

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