Heartache is a natural and reoccurring thing. We fall in love and out of love. The people we love hurt us even when they don’t mean to. Heartache doesn’t have to be just in a romantic relationship. It can happen when someone you love randomly leaves, which is what happened to me.
Sometimes life isn’t fair. Sometimes bad things happen to good people and you can’t wrap your head around why. You ask why me, why my family and in my case why my brother? I remember that October day so clearly. I woke up, went to cl***, and then headed to work. It seemed like a typical fall morning. Students on campus were hustling and bustling to get to cl*** on time. Orange and yellow leaves covered the campus lawns and the air was crisp. Fall was my favorite season. It meant that the holidays I loved so much were near.
I went to Conrad University, Home of the Rams and worked at the school library. People came in to study and find the books they needed for school. It was a normal day, but something felt off. I had this feeling in the pit of my stomach letting me know something bad was happening, or about to happen. I’m no psychic, but it’s as if my body was trying to alert me that something terrible was about to happen. An hour in to my shift and my phone buzzes. Its from my ex boyfriend, David. I pick up the phone thinking, “What the **** does he want?” we haven’t spoken in over a year and honestly I preferred it that way. The message read, “Have you talked to your brother lately”, nothing else. I messaged him back “Yea, a few days ago. Why?” I see the three dots pop up and then disappear and then finally he types back, “He passed out at school today”.
After reading his message I can’t think straight and panic starts to sink in immediately. I reread it to make sure I read it correctly. His dad works at my brother’s high school, so if something did happen he would know and then relay the message to him. I leave the front desk where I work to call my parents, but no answer. I decide to turn to social media. I go to my brothers Facebook, and search a few news sites, nothing. No one was even saying anything about him. I call again. This time they answer. My dad answered my moms phone. “Is Cory ok? I asked.
There is a long pause from my dad before he answers. “He’s in the hospital and hasn’t woken up yet. We’ll call you back later”. I can hear the worry in my dad’s voice. We hang up and I go back to work, but I can no longer focus. That feeling in the pit of my stomach is telling me he’s gone. I walk to the bathroom and break down. I look at my self in the mirror. “I am not going home for a funeral, I wont”. I get myself somewhat together and go to my last cl*** of the day. My teacher keeps telling me to go home, since he can tell something is wrong or maybe he already knew. I refuse, I have a project to finish and I can’t just leave I say. I’m working on my project when I get the call. All of my worst fears are confirmed. My best friend shows up out of nowhere and drives me home. I am numb. I feel nothing. Time stands still.
“Jaime are you ok?” Bailey said. Bailey was my roommate and best friend. We had met freshmen year and had been inseparable since then. She was my person. We lay on the couch in our living room. I had a million in one thoughts running through my brain. He was gone. He was dead. I wasn’t anyone’s sister anymore. I kept saying it over and over again. Even though there was nothing I could do, I felt guilty. I remember not crying or saying anything. I just sat there and played music from my computer ignoring what was going on around me. People talked to me, sympathy messages came through my phone, the news reported his death, but I just sat. Cory had never been sick unless you count the occasional cold. I was in shock to say the least.
The days following were a blur. I went home, helped my parent’s make arrangements and said my goodbyes. I remember that first night when I arrived home. I sat between my parents and wrapped my arms around them. In that moment I knew it would just be the three of us from now on. Our foursome had been broken and there was nothing we could do about it, but be strong for each other. I had never seen them look so broken, so hurt. I decided that I had to be the strong one now.
Now the only things that remained behind were a room filled with his things that would never be touched by him again. Things that still smelt and looked like him, things that carried so many memories.
Cory and I were very close, but it wasn’t always that way. Growing up we fought like we were auditioning for WWE Smackdown. We became closer as he got older. I stopped seeing him as my annoying little brother and more as a friend. We went shopping together, watched movies, normal sibling activities. My new friend was gone forever and I would never get those moments back.
Being home was too much for me and I decided to go back to college soon after things were finalized. School represented normalcy to me. It was a place where not everyone knew what happened to me and didn’t look at me with “sad eyes”. I hated it! No matter how much I hated it, on the outside I smiled and said thank you. This was my life now. It felt sad, but I guess that’s how it supposed to feel when tragedy strikes.
Chapter 2- What is normal?
“Jaime lets go out tonight. The football team is supposed to be having this huge party. Everyone will be there!” Bailey said.
I thought about it. Lately Bailey had been doing everything in her power to cheer me up. And I hadn’t been socializing much since everything happened with my brother. “Sure” I said reluctantly.
“Really? Your not messing with me, are you?
“I’m sure. You can put makeup on me and I may even talk to a boy”
“Ha yeah right, but I’ll take what I can get. Plus no boy talking for you, aren’t you and Colin still a thing?” Bailey asked ***he opened my closet door to pick me out an outfit.
“I guess. He came over last night and we…But he seems distant now.”
“How was it? And what do you mean distant?”
“It was good, but we talk less and he calls and messages less. Its like he wants to end it, but doesn’t have the balls to do it. Maybe I’m overreacting”.
“Maybe, but what has he been saying when you do talk?” Bailey threw two dresses on my bed and was searching in the back of the closet for more.
I pulled out my phone and went to our conversations. I started reading the last few messages for her. “I asked him why we hadn’t hung out so much lately. He said, “I’ve been busy with school and work”. “I said so have I and then he says I have other friends and some things just seem less of a priority lately”. “Then he said….”
Bailey interrupted, “Did he just say you weren’t a priority to him? Oh **** no Jaime. Let that boy go! He is not worth your time or tears.”
Colin was a guy I had been seeing for a few weeks. We met one night at a football game through a friend and started hanging out. He was serious all the time, but that just brought out my playful side. I seemed to bring out his too. I thought we were a good balance, ying and yang. He was there before and after everything had happened with my brother. I thought I had found a good guy. Maybe I was wrong.
“But, I have been super depressed lately. Maybe it is my fault”.
“Don’t make me come over there and slap you. Your brother died. You are not going to get over that overnight. He’s an *** if he thinks otherwise. Ugh! I hate him. You are definitely finding a new guy tonight.”
“I guess you’re right” I said climbing out of bed.
“I am right. Now try on this dress”. I put on the blue, extremely tight dress Bailey had picked out and stared at myself in the mirror. It had been awhile since I had seen myself in anything other than sweatpants. My eyes were red and swollen from the constant crying that was now apart of my everyday routine. It went something like: shower, brush teeth, cry for 10 min, and get dressed. I pulled my hair down. I had almost forgotten that I had cut it before everything happen. My black hair was now shoulder length and in some sort of half wavy, half curly state.
“How many guys do you think will talk to me if I go out like this” I asked sarcastically.
“With that dress plenty” Bailey answered. “Not too sure how many will stick around and ask for a number though. Sit down so I can do your hair and makeup.” With One Direction playing in the background I zoned out and let my friend fix me up. One Direction may not be going out music, but they are very catchy and make you want to get up and dance.
We got ready and met our other friends at their apartment, so we could leave together. As we walked to campus we saw groups of people laughing, drunken people trying to act sober and those who were too cool for anything, but didn’t want to miss out on a Friday night party. My group of friends included my former roommate Megan, and her roommates Kate and Emily. We had all met freshmen year and remained close since then.
“I hear everyone is going to be here,” Kate said. “I hope it doesn’t get to crazy”.
“It’s a football party, crazy is a requirement for them” Emily answered who was also dating one of the football players. Kate frowned. She liked a good time, but didn’t like trouble.
“Well if anyone’s getting crazy, it’s Jaime. She needs to find a guy tonight” Bailey said.
“Yay, I’m so excited” I said rolling my eyes.
We finally reached the party and walked inside. We are instructed to go downstairs to the basement. We passed a line full of girls dressed in skimpy outfits waiting for the bathroom and a group of guys standing around talking way too loudly. Once in the basement I see that it is packed, wall-to-wall. Everyone is dancing and having a great time
“I’m going to get us something to drink” Megan says and walks towards the keg. Emily sees her boyfriend and walks over to dance with him. Kate, Bailey and myself are left in the middle of the party. We half dance half talk. Two guys come up to them and ask to dance. They refuse at first but I insure them that I’m fine and don’t feel like dancing anyway.
Standing there alone I search around the room looking for my two other friends. Megan seems to have gotten lost and Emily is nowhere to be seen. I make eye contact with a familiar face. He smiles and walks over just in time to save me from this guy asking me to dance. It’s my friend and ex boyfriend Aiden.
Aiden and I dated in high school. Before dating we were good friends for several years. We broke up for multiple reasons, but the main one was other people making it hard for us to be together, mainly his younger sister Sarah. We ended up going to the same college and ran into each other from time to time. My friends often joke that he’s the one who got away. He’s sweet, good looking, and always seems to be there in a crisis, like now.
“I didn’t expect to see you here tonight” Aiden said sipping on his beer.
“Why not? I’m having an amazing time”.
“Oh yeah I could tell. That’s why you basically put out an SOS signal. Luckily I noticed and came over to save you”.
“How ever will I repay you?”
“Your company is payment enough.” His face turns red, then gets super serious. Aiden is quiet for a moment. I know he’s thinking of how to ask me how I’m dealing with everything. “So…how are you?”
“Oh just peachy” I say sarcastically. “Sorry” I say realizing what an *** I just was. “Am I ok? No. Will I be? Yes.”
“Well alright. Well, fall break is in two weeks, if you need a ride I’m your man”.
“Ill definitely take you up on that. Still riding buddies after all these years”.
“Of course. Who else am I going scare half to death with my driving skills”?
“Oh how did I get so lucky?” I say, as my friends seem to all find me at once.
“The cops are kicking people out. Lets go before things get too out of hand,” Kate says looking terrified. Megan chugs down her beer and Emily waves us goodbye staying with her boyfriend.
“Good seeing you Jaime”.
“Good seeing you Jaime” Bailey says mocking Aiden as we hid out of the party.
“Oh nothing. All I know is you better hop on that or someone else will”.
I roll my eyes. “We had our time and it didn’t work. We’re just friends now”
“Right” Bailey says like she doesn’t believe me.
We all decide to go get pizza. I guess we danced so hard we worked up an appetite. We end up at Sam’s Pizzeria. It has decent pizza and huge slices. I grab my slice and sit down at a table with the girls. My phone goes off and I pick it up. I have a message from Colin. At first I’m excited and then I read what he says. “Heard you had a great time tonight. Who’s the guy?” I must have made a face because Bailey asked if I was ok.
“It’s Colin. I guess one of his friends saw me at the party and told him”.
“So what? You guys aren’t official and from what I gathered from his message he doesn’t want it to be anything more. You can’t let him control you. Give me your phone.” She reaches across the table and took my phone.
“Wait, what are you doing?”
“Texting him back and then deleting his number. How does who I talk to should not be a priority of yours sound? Sent and his number deleted!”
I stare the phone waiting for a reply, but it doesn’t come. “I don’t know how I feel about this”.
“You should feel relieved. I did you a favor”.
“Thanks so much”. I’m quiet the rest of the time we’re out. Parts of me feel happy and another part feels scared. He should not have this hold on me, but he does. I’m super vulnerable right now and I feel like he’s the only one who understands what I am going through. His mom died, so he can truly sympathize with me. He’s the only person I tell how I really feel. To everyone else I hold it in, but with Colin I hide nothing. Maybe that’s the part that scares and hurts me the most. He knows what I’m going through and still decides to treat me this way. Maybe Bailey is right. I’m a catch and I do deserve better and if he cant see that screw him, someone else will.
The night ends with me kind of boyfriendless and still buzzed from the party.
A week has passed since I have spoken to Colin. It’s also a week before fall break starts. The leaves have started changing color more and more. Pumpkins and pumpkin spiced flavored things are everywhere. The air feels clear and I feel a little better about the Colin situation. I feel freer. Maybe things are shifting in the right direction. I may be on my way to getting some things back to normal, but what is normal anyway?