When someone calls and is crying and pauses and says “Ethan,” it’s tears and a name, and I knew.
There is a memorial service at noon the next day. The drive from Stamford, Connecticut to Boston is about three hours, which isn’t bad unless you have no company but a pack of cigarettes that you aren’t supposed to smoke in Matt’s car. So you decide you are not going to attend, and you cry about that when:
“Your shoes would be a unicorn if that were a thing.”
“No one has used unicorn to describe them yet.”
“Are you sad?”
“Want to tell me about it?”
“Do you always talk to random people on trains?”
And this girl named Emily who always talked to random people on trains told me it was imperative that I attend, right before she kissed me on the forehead, and dashed off the F train, to be seen again though, by me. We are friends now.
I smoked two cigarettes in Matt’s car, and it was nice to feel guilty because it was a break from feeling sad. It was so crispy out, and my cheeks felt like wet paper towels. It was the kind of day that cracked the thick clouds with glittery sunshine.
There was a big white bouquet of roses at the front of the chapel. Everybody kept sharing that Ethan was in the chapel that day with us, and I had every intention of changing my life while I was in that chapel. So, I started to believe everybody.
I got back into the car with a freshly printed memorial service program with Ethan’s face on it. There was no more glittery sunshine, only one big white rose on the passenger seat.
It took an hour before a blizzard hit, and then I fishtailed and there was a guardrail and five lanes and I landed in a position very similar to the one I started in. In that ten-second period of time, nothing happened to me besides the jolt and a release, a halt.
It took twelve minutes before my phone died, and fourteen before a family in a minivan pulled up next to me, another five for my legs to stop shaking, and one for me to climb out and hop in.
All that I can remember is that the family made me laugh, and then they asked where I was coming from, and that made them cry.
They dropped me off at a Chili’s. The hostess offered to charge my phone, and the manager offered the suggestion that I needed a friend, and that she could be that person. I walked her through the jolt and a release, a halt once, and then three more times, without taking a breath, before she stopped me.
And she placed her hand atop the freshly printed memorial service program with Ethan’s face on it. And she just said:
“Well, look at that.”