While you were getting dressed you told me about spending time with your dad. I was glad to hear you were establishing a relationship with him. You were also going to take a class in the spring to get back on track with school. You were looking at the future and making plans. It was so nice to see. I told you how happy I was and how proud. I know what a rough road you'd traveled. I'd been on some of the same ones. I was always glad to be your touchstone or sounding board when you needed me. We finally made our way to the party. People couldn't believe I got you out of the house.
You may have gone because I made you, but you had a ball at the party. The house and yard were packed. Students were running around in costumes that were interesting to say the least. The pregnant teenager costume complete with "Baby Daddy" fueled your snark all night. It was the first lacrosse party Joe and I attended as a couple officially, so there were questions and comments constantly. You kept telling everyone that you knew it would happen all along. You also walked up while I was talking to different people all night to tell them that I tried to have you killed the first time you met me. You'd then walk away to leave me to explain. You were in full effect that night.
Claiming you were an old man, you left the party a bit earlier than the rest of us. You said I couldn't bitch because if it had been anyone else you'd have never left your apartment that night. You'd follow me anywhere. I gave you a big hug, lingering to tell you how proud of you I was and I love you. You were grinning as you walked up the hill, threw up your hand to say goodbye and walked into the night. What I didn't know is you were also walking out of my life. Just like that.
We never know when the last time we'll see somebody. I'd never have guessed that would be the last time I'd see you, and once the confusion, pain and shock settled, I could not have asked for a more perfect goodbye. There was no sadness. I was going to see you the next day. We'd had such a great conversation getting ready for the party. You were more positive than I'd seen you in years, and you said you were really feeling better, like things were turning around. You had so much fun at that party -- laughing, smiling, flirting, snarking -- you at your most Mitch. I can look back at that night and smile because I remember the happy, hopeful Mitch. I can smile because the last thing I ever said to you was "I love you."
Nothing has been the same since that night. The next 24 hours were like a living nightmare. I had to call your best friend to tell him you were gone. He still freaks out when I call him, even about nothing. My voice brought one of his greatest losses into his life. I called every person anyone could think of that needed to know you were gone. The last person I told was Lindsay, and when I got off the phone, I went into the living room and cried because I was finished with the list and I didn't want to make anyone else cry.
We drove to Ohio for your funeral. Your mom and grandparents were so sweet. It wasn't very "Mitch," so we celebrated your life a bit more appropriately at a casino in Wheeling, WV, on the way home. As Ethan sat with an entire row of machines lit up and maxed out, I stared in disbelief. He just looked and pointed up and yelled, "Thanks, Skeet!"
I called my mom to make sure she knew what my final wishes would be. I know your parents were so confused and shocked. Losing you made all of us realize that we are very mortal and being young means nothing in the grand scheme of things.
We went back to Knoxville to really say goodbye. Ethan still had a key to your old apartment, so it wasn't technically breaking and entering. We met some of your neighbors who'd heard stories about us. I got your ice skates from one of them and sent them to Thomas. You'd have wanted him to have them. At the end of the night, Joe and Ethan climbed onto your roof and placed a forty and a can of dip where the three of you hung off the back side hiding from the cops. I kissed my hand and placed it on your door.
I can't believe it's been eight years. I had to write this to tell you I remember. I remember it all, and I still love you, Mitchy. Forever.