I remember how your infectious laughter
filled up the chemical-scented hospital room
with life
like you weren’t afraid of dying.

I remember how your bright white smile
filled up the room,
and I was more like the wilted purple flowers
on the windowsill across from your bed.
I was paralyzed with fear,
I didn’t want to lose you.

I remember tear stains
seemingly stuck to my face
because I refused to stop wearing mascara.
It hid the bags under my eyes a little bit better.
I would walk into your room,
you would smile softly and reach your hand
as far is it could go with the I.V.s holding you back
and wipe the tears off my face
then pull me into a hug
and ask me to tell you about my day.

I remember how it felt
to lose you,
to the sickness that consumed your body.

You had gone through
two surgeries
to attempt to remove the tumors.
You had gone through
so much more than
two surgeries.

You’d been through
the pain of being diagnosed,
chemo and radiation,
at least 100 hugs from me.

The agony of being told
the treatments weren’t working
had your mom sobbing in the corner for days.
Your father praying in the hospital’s church
that smelled of old cleaning products.
He prayed so much
his knees were bruised within a week.

And even though
I know it sounds selfish,
I wanted you to live,
if not for yourself
then for me,
because you were always my best friend,
or for your mom and dad,
who were about to lose their only child.
I wanted to spend long nights with you watching horror movies
like we did when we were younger,
eating way too much candy
that would make our stomachs hurt
almost as bad as they hurt after our long peals of laughter.

Your mother
would never get to see
her child graduate from high school
or even make it through middle school.

Instead, she would see
the flat line on your heart monitor,
the broken body of her son
lying in a hospital bed,
the same hospital bed
he had been fighting for his life in
for months.

Your face would be as white as the walls surrounding you,
your lips as pale as the ink
from a dying pink marker.

No matter how painful it was to see,
you seemed at peace.
Your life was no longer a battle
that you were constantly fighting to win.

I still see you in the small things:
in the wings of monarch butterflies
that fly past me in the summer.
We used to catch them on the school playground
and make wishes before letting them fly away.
I see you in the cans of Arizona tea
that I still buy everyday at lunch,
because even though the taste gets old,
they were your favorite,
and you bought them almost every day

I can still see you
in the cellophane packets of Honey Buns
that I buy for 50 cents
but can only eat half
because I always used to save the other half for you.
I will continue
to always save the other half for you
until the sticky goodness goes bad
and I am forced to throw them away by concerned friends.
But I always just go
and buy more anyway
because something about the cinnamon and cocoa
still reminds me of you,
and I still pray for you,
with sticky fingers that smell like honey,
and hope that wherever you are
you save the other half of your Honey Buns for me too.