I wouldn't believe it if I didn't have a calendar sitting right in front of my face. It's been exactly three years since you died. 1,096 days.
There are so many things I wish I could tell you. I wish I could show you how much your little sisters have grown. I'd show you the videos I finally had the courage to put up on YouTube of me singing and playing the guitar. You always knew I could do it. I wish I could play you the songs I wrote about you. For you. I'd show you the guy who actually made president in 2008, just so I could hear you rant and rave about how awful our government has become. I wish I could talk about a boy, just so you'd get mad. I'd play for you on my new guitar that you never got to hear. We were still trying to think of names for it when you went away. I'd send you my favorite rap song and laugh when you sent me five "real" songs in response. I'd probably yell at you. 'Cause sometimes I still feel angry, you know. I'd probably cry. No, I know I would.
I've stopped blaming myself. You'd probably be glad about that. There are still some days when I think, "If I only would have..." But then I have to remember. You were the one to make the decision to end your own life, Gatlin. That was you. Not me. How can I honestly blame myself if I would have stopped you had I known? That's irrational. It's just hard to be rational sometimes, you know?
To be honest with you, I still don't understand why you took your own life. You had a bright future ahead of you. You had one of the coolest families ever. You had friends who adored you. It was a selfish decision. You hurt people you loved. You promised never to hurt me, Gatlin, but you've hurt me more than anyone else has so far. Some days, when I think of you, I feel a lot of anger. I wonder how anyone who said he loved us so much would turn around and do something this cruel. I wasn't the same for months after you died. You know that?
I don't like to be angry at you, though. What's the point in that? Why be angry at someone who's already gone? I try to think about the good memories instead. There are lots of those, hidden beneath the painful memories of your funeral and the emotions I felt the night I learned that you died.
The good memories, when I think about them, still make me smile. I remember when you started capitalizing "you" every time you talked to me online. "Emily, You are worth more than You think You are, so I'll capitalize 'you' to remind You until You get it. Okay?" I felt so special when you did that. We stayed up all night talking sometimes. When I cried to you over the phone one time, you answered immediately, "Who do I need to beat up today?" I told you I'd always wanted a big brother and you immediately volunteered, even though you were a month younger than I was. I like to think about those memories, Gatlin. Not the bad ones, because I know we had those too.
It's comforting to me that you were a Christian. I know you're in heaven. Are you sorry for cutting your life short? You would have been an incredible musician. You were the best guitarist I knew already. You left me amazed when I saw your YouTube videos. I'm so grateful for a God who forgives us even when we screw up bad, aren't you?
A few years before you went away, you told me that if you died, everyone would forget about you after three months. It's been three years now. Three years today. I doubt anyone has forgotten you. I haven't, and I wasn't even your best friend. You're not forgotten, Gatlin. You're remembered.
I feel sad when I think of the way you died. Of how young you were, of how young I was. Fifteen is too young to experience death. Now I'm eighteen -and you would be too- and I'm growing up, slowly but surely. When I think about our friendship, I'll admit it: We seem young in my mind now. But I still treasure those memories and I treasure the friendship I had with you. You were a good friend. I'll never forget you, not in three years and not in thirty years. You'll always hold a place in my heart as the boy who offered to play the role of my big brother once upon a time.