“DEAR PUMPKIN”

Dear Pumpkin,

After what feels more like ages, I can’t believe that I ended up writing for you again.

I know it’s been almost a decade since your funeral. I’d planned to stay in touch with your family, no matter what, but then you know how it usually goes.

I’ve gotten busy. I know that’s a very lousy excuse and you’d be sad if I said that to your face while you were still alive. I should make the time.

I should’ve made it sooner. Perhaps some people have been right about me:

I can be such a cry-baby. There, I’ve said it. They can all make fun of me for all they like, all I care.

I’m terrible at separation, whether it’s a break-up, death, or even a fall-out. When my cousin (who was also good friends with you back in college) told me that you’d passed away, it took me a while to process.

I didn’t cry at your funeral. I’d cried after.

I meant to come sooner, I really did. But then Dad got sick and I’d either forgotten about it or just pushed that plan in the back of my mind.

So, why am I writing this now?

I’ve met your brother twice at the same place. It turns out that he’s working nearby from where I live now. (Remember our silly, backup plan to rent a flat together like in your favourite chick flicks? Well, so much for the plan.)

He’s married but still living with your family in the same house I used to visit. (Yes, I remember our DVD marathons with loads of snacks, and gossip. Beautiful college years.)

My God, such a splitting image of you in him. He looks a lot like you that it hurts, but I think I’ve hurt him more.

The first encounter was some time ago, probably last year if I’m not mistaken. He was walking with his wife when we ran into each other. He’d sounded so sad when he asked me this:

“Why aren’t you visiting us anymore? Mom’s been asking about you.”

I felt that choking lump in my throat. I didn’t know what to say. “I’m sorry” would have been safer but also empty at the same time. Even if I had had the answer, I’d still have sounded stupid anyway. Unreasonable.

“I know that my brother’s already dead…”

Hearing that, I felt even worse. I mumbled a weak promise to visit.

When your brother and I parted, I felt myself holding back tears. I miss you. I actually miss them too.

A few nights ago, I had a dream about you. It was really strange – a mixture of the past and the moments that never existed in real life.

Then I woke up.

I ran into your brother again recently, in the same place again. He said he was now a father of a nine-month-old baby boy. I’m happy for him. He was obviously beaming.

“Come visit us,” he said again, earnestly. “Come visit us when you have the time.”

When I make the time, this time, I silently promised and hoped that I’d seriously keep it. Then we exchanged numbers and parted. I was still holding back my tears.

Thank you, Pumpkin. I know what you’ve been trying to tell me. I love you. You’re my best friend and will always be.

Once again, rest in peace, buddy.

Love,

R.

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