March 10, 2019
I’m sitting on the couch watching Hulu and scrolling through Facebook. We have an old TV, inherited from my roommate’s grandfather, plus an X-box 360 we can stream through. When I see the post and need the TV to stop I have to scramble to wake the X-box controller up just to hit pause.
The apartment Wi-Fi works about 95% of the time when you aren’t desperate for it and maybe 60% during crises; right now I am getting the spinning wheel of death as I try to Google the words in confirmation.
Six years prior to her death I had been extremely hesitant to accept Cami Gauger, then an awkward freshman with an underwhelming application, to the 2013-2014 yearbook staff. Having ultimately said yes, it made sense to find out she had joined alongside her two best friends but, like me, she found her home in that windowless computer lab tucked behind the bathroom and the misplaces English classroom. Cami surprised me when she stayed for the next year even when her friends had to quit. Her matching dedication to yearbook made her my partner and friend.
March 10, 2019
I feel myself cycle through the stages of grief within minutes and land on cry/hyperventilating on my bed as I try to explain through text to my roommate why I can not let her into the building right now because I can not move from this spot where I have accepted that someone who made up so much of my former high school life is gone.
2014-2015 School Year
Cami could frustrate me but we worked together well. As her elder and the more experienced among us, I took the lead. I took on most of the designing. I had a better grasp on editing procedures. I did the majority of the writing. She was the people person because our similar drives took us in different directions.
March 11, 2019
I go to 2/3 of my classes that day after my friend died because I have two midterms. And because I can’t understand my grief.
In 2019 I am not a close friend of Cami’s but because I am neither enemy nor stranger I want to have the right to feel. Because I do feel. But I’m so unsure of what to do with that.
I learn to love Cami through the frustrations and adventures we share. Producing a yearbook is the most work either of us do in high school and we spend countless hours together in class, after school, on weekends and frantically messaging each other. Her commitment grows to mirror mine and the lunches she was hesitant to spend away from her friends are now with me, staring at the computer screens in frustration. We develop inside jokes. We share parenthood of a fish who dies very quickly and a second fish who we pass off to someone else for fear we’ll have killed a second. We make a tradition of eating Chipotle after she teaches me that if you just order a rice and salsa burrito, they charge you only as a side of rice.
Memories of Cami pop up when I’d all but forgotten about them. The anxieties that come with them are hard to ignore. I watch the movie Frozen in preparation for the sequel when the opening song waters my eyes: we made it through two and a half runs of the movie while we worked on senior superlatives. I order a drink at Starbucks and remember the hours we spent there, pouring over spreads and increasing in frustration as the sugar rush from our drinks waxed and waned. The worst is when I’m driving and I need to pass only for the line to echo over and over in my head. Failed to pass safely to the left. I should control the words in my head but they go on and on as my knuckles turn white against my steering wheel. Failed to pass safely to the left. Failed to pass safely to the left.
Cami insists on meeting up with me while I’m home for the summer. We meet at our Starbucks and talk about our lives. She has just completed her summer orientation for Texas Tech and I am so proud of her for also pursuing a communications degree. She has changed so much from the timid, nearly unhirable freshman I met not so long ago. This is the last time we speak in person.
Cami’s memory haunts me, though not in a wholly bad way. She appears in dream. Once, she’s faked her own death, the dream does not clarify why, but I find her hiding outside of the high school. In another I meet her boyfriend and her ghost comes to introduce us, I get to hug her and say “I miss you, kid” because I do.
For months I know I am close to where she once was. I can’t remember her former Longmont address but I know it’s near and I wonder if I can feel her presence. When I finally look it up I know her family lived two doors down from the house I currently work in.
The Gilmore girls Netflix special is finally here. It’s essential that we discuss our feelings about our shared passion and agree it’s a bit of a letdown. This is probably the last time we have a conversation more than responding to each other’s Snapchats.
Failed to pass safely to the left. I finally draw it out because for a year I’ve tried to picture how it is that Cami is at fault for a truck smashing into her. My diagram makes sense but I won’t stop resenting the driver for not seeing her in his mirrors, even if she shouldn’t have been passing at that turn. I won’t stop being a little more afraid every time I want to pass to the left.
March 8, 2019
I remember the Snapchat of Rosie because I’ll use it as a source of denial in two days when I see the news. I had just seen her post. I had thought of responding but don’t.
March 10, 2020
I have the date in my calendar and take the day off of work. I want to stop and think. I want to eat a burrito in Cami’s honor. I want to finally write this blog that has been a year in the making after I’ve spent the last twelve months navigating having my first dead friend, processing loss, and contemplating the true brevity of human life all from this outer circle of grief. So here it is.