"This Saturday, I'll do a toast in her honor," I wrote. "And by toast I mean French toast."
"You remember that she loved French toast!" my aunt's words squealed from the computer screen.
Of course I did. How could I forget? I remember everything about her.
I remember her golden curls, her eyes as clear as an August afternoon, and the freckles on her nose that grew a warmer brown in the summer sun. I remember that she loved G.I. Joes and superheroes; The Flash was her favorite. I remember that she loved Linkin Park, all things camouflage, and drinking Mt. Dew.
I remember that she loved French toast.
The last time I spoke to her, it was Christmas Eve, 2003. I hadn't spoken to her all evening and as I said my good-byes, I saw her from across the living room, sitting in an old reclining chair. It was like she was in a photograph, and I clasped her image between my fingertips, reflecting. "Merry Christmas," I spoke.
"Merry Christmas," she mouthed. And I left.
The last time I saw her breathing was January 9th, 2004. I was touching her leg as she lay on a hospital bed, touching her leg to fabricate a sense of closeness I had sworn I'd seek out as she got older. I'd be there for her. I'd take her to the movies and to concerts in the park and to coffee shops full of books and...and...I'd show her everything I loved about my city because she loved these things too. Right?
I remember she loved French toast.
The last time I saw her was January 12th, 2004. She was wearing a camouflage hat and The Flash was resting under her left arm. Guests tucked notes inside her casket as if over the next one to one thousand years, she would read them.
I was not one of them.
We ate club sandwiches and Ruffles potato chips later that day at her parents' house. Her father had made his famous burgers, but no one commented on how much they loved them, no one asked him for seconds.
In the living room, immune from conversation, I read her journals. As I read, I discovered she loved ice hockey. I discovered she loved drawing and comic books and swimming in the ocean. She loved penguins and her Siamese cat named Ping. She loved so many things.
But most of all, I discovered that she loved French toast.