Writing Catalog

Julia Barber

Grade: 11

Bay Village High School

Instructor: Erin Beirne

Letters Not Outlived

Personal Essay & Memoir

Letters Not Outlived

Dear Juju,
I love you so much, and I feel so grateful that you are in my life. Today was very hard because I had to talk to my coach about my friend who died. I cried… a lot. Then you and I had such a fun time starting from the second you got off the bus. Seeing you smile and giving me unconditional is why I am here, and am always going to be here for you.


I often wonder what happened that day. I can't remember when it was, what was said, what we did. Truthfully, I don't think it matters. I know that it's likely Wishy and I played with Monster High dolls. Even watched Winx Club, or Ever After High because it was a common pastime for us. Or maybe we walked the dogs, just talking. I know from her words that she got me off the bus, meaning I was at best in middle school. Knowing from the fact that she is alive, I was younger than ten. I do remember watching her wait at the bus stop. As I slowed to a stop I would see her there, standing tall, amazing posture. More often than not a red leash would lay in her hand, a trail that leads to Rosco. I have memories of running into her arms, walking up for a hug, or simply taking the leash and leading the way home. What I did on her bad day is a secret to me. I wonder if she would remember? Filling in the missing memories, I reflect on all the memories I've clung to.

The times in winter when the ice would nip at our noses, and yet we would refuse to go into the warmth of our home. Shoveling, piling, packing snow until our ice shelter formed. After our hard work, we would retire within our hollow ice mound. Cup in hand, filled with the hottest of chocolate and the largest of marshmallows. The moment the last drop passed our lips, we were back outside. Climbing to the top of our playhouse. Faded red windowsills, and the yellow foundation that lost its color years ago. Under our feet the barely blue roof, coated in snow and ice. Falling, I breached for impact, shutting my eyes tight, waiting. But the ground never came, only your laughter did. We debated for a while ,me thinking my belt loop caught me. You knowing it was my pants. I should have known better than to argue with you. You saw what I didn't see, my pants. I didn't believe you until I felt the cold, unforgiving snow you shoved down the rip newly formed in my pants. One of the memories I often look back on.

I don't know who the friend in her note was, but I would love to get the chance to ask. To question what caused her to forget the word that was meant to follow unconditional. I like to think it was love. I like to think she knows that I have never done anything but love her. In a sea of questions, I anchor myself with the things she left behind, my note. A piece of paper, invaluable, for her thoughts preserved upon it. I know that she loved me and was grateful to have me in her life. But does she know that I valued every moment we spent together? That each day I'm pained by my age restricting my memories. I would do anything to remember everything, even the hurt and pain, the crying and screaming. I find myself jealous of those who remember even the suffering you went through. I wish you hadn't experienced it, but it's over and done now, and my lost memories are only lost time, with no ability to regain. Forgotten.

I know you said you would be here for me, always. That you are here because of my love for you. Now I know that's not true. In the last moments I had with you, did you not feel my heart shattering with each breath a machine took for you? Did you not feel my tears ricochet from your hand? My love wasn't enough to ground you, to bring you home. And for that I will never forgive myself. What I would give for my tears to save you, my heart to restore yours. Did you know how many broken hearts you left behind? I wish a paper would collect your thoughts and report back to me. Because on paper, you are here forever, a memory. The world has turned upside down, leaving me without you, without my sister. But I will see you again, and when I do, know that I've been there for you, and I always will. For now I recite the words on paper, the words of my sister, the words of my favorite person. The words of a memory, the words of a ghost.