By Gena Anderson | firstname.lastname@example.org
This past May, I drove six hours to go home to visit my friend for his 22nd birthday. Or rather, visit his grave.
Troy died on Oct. 13, 2008 in a motorcycle accident. On our way to his funeral, my best friend and I got lost. On our way to visit his grave, the same thing happened.
Everyone knows where Troy is buried, but none of us know how to get there. I cried on the way to his funeral because I was afraid we were going to miss it. I wanted to cry on my way to visit this time because I felt that same sense of defeat.
But we found it. Somehow, in the middle of nowhere. Also know as Cantonment, Fla. Once we were there, I knew exactly where to go. However, my feet felt unstable on the loose gravel walkway that lead straight to his grave.
All the way in the back, all by itself, sat Troy’s grave site. I expected to be greeted by outpourings of love. Flowers, balloons, cards, pictures and notes, but it was completely bare.
At that point I did cry. My poor, beautiful Troy sat alone on his birthday.
I looked to my best friend and he seemed just as uncomfortable to be greeted by the severe lack of stuff.
“I’ve got $5. Can you get us to WalMart?” I asked as I fought back the tears.
He nodded and we ran.
I was on a mission. My feet were not allowed to feel unstable. I wouldn’t let them. We ran full speed back to the beat up ’89 Pontiac Firebird that Troy had always been so proud of, and we were off.
Once in WalMart, I felt overwhelmed. What to get? I ran to the balloons, but none of them had something funny enough blazoned across them for Troy. Where on Earth were the “I’m sorry your family sucks! But I love you! Happy Birthday!” balloons? Is there not a demand for those?
Fine. Scratch balloons. Flowers? Where are the flowers?
Thankfully, WalMart did at least have a very sufficient aisle full of flowers.
Buying flowers for a boy is hard. Boys never seem to tell you what their favorite type of flowers are. From the blank expression my best friend gave me when I asked him if Troy ever mentioned which flowers he liked, I am led to believe boys might not have favorite flowers.
So I got him roses. Because they’re cheesy and they would have made him laugh. I couldn’t think of anything better than making him laugh.
So I marched out of WalMart, $5 worth of fake roses in hand, feeling much more like a success than I had all day.
“This is ridiculous isn’t it?” I asked my friend.
“Yeah. But everyone deserves presents on their birthday,” he told me with his all-knowing grin.
We arrived back at his grave site and I realized that I didn’t get a card. Seriously Gena, it’s the most basic essential of birthdays. People always get birthday cards. How could you forget the freaking card?
So, I faked it. I ripped out a piece of paper from a notebook in my purse. I wrote him a note.
I told him happy birthday, and that I loved him. I told him not to think I am lame for bringing flowers and apologized for forgetting a card on my frantic birthday mission. I promised that next year I would come prepared.
I signed it and stuck the flowers through it before poking them into the ground.
We spent hours there. We talked to a picture of our lost friend on a stone and talked about how Troy would be making fun of us for talking to a stone. We told him what we had been up to and how everyone was doing. We laughed more on that day than we had in months.
When we left, I didn’t feel like crying anymore. I actually couldn’t help but smile. Because maybe to the outside world I was the crazy girl talking to a stone. Maybe none of this mattered and I was being ridiculous. But to me, I was a girl who had single-handedly saved a birthday with only $5. And I got to spend my day with my two favorite people.