I’ve never seen a body that looks like that. There’s something peaceful about seeing your grandma dressed up and laid down all nice. This body was contorted, limbs in un-natural ways that they’re not meant to be, no face to the lifeless frame. His feet the same colour as mine, but covered in mud and not moving.

And it made me think of you.

His family and friends at home may not know yet – just like we didn’t. People who love him, who think he’s enjoying the world with life in his step, who mightn’t know for two weeks. And we didn’t even know how long he was there. But we have no idea how long you were there for either.

How long you were you still breathing for? Were you in pain or was it peaceful? Were your last thoughts sober? Or arrhythmic and meaningless, like they probably would be when someone has put acid in your drink.

A group of us played pool at The Rattle, unaware of how much our lives were going to change within the next week. We wouldn’t even know you were missing for 6 days, but you were already dead. It seems weird and wrong to think how much fun we were having in that moment, with so little regard for you when you needed us the most.

At first they found your arm. We read an article online about someone finding it floating in Lake Union – but it couldn’t have been yours; they found your wallet and your passport at a building site a long way south of the festival. You had checked out of your hostel but they couldn’t find your bags. They still haven’t. They will never know what happened, and I’m always wondering.

I need to talk to you at times, and so I send you a message with what I’m thinking. Sometimes it’s only once a year – if that. But reading the messages reminds me of the hurt that I constantly feel. The sense of loss and confusion. The disbelief. The thought that you’re still out there, enjoying our beautiful but fucked up world.

And reading your last “we have to have a catch up soon Tess” breaks my fucking heart. Because we never did, and you died six months later.

Sometimes I feel like I should have pushed you harder to remember your email password, to call the university and see if you had been accepted – but I didn’t and you didn’t, and you went off to see the world. You loved it, and if you were truly happy then it’s the most I can wish for.

I now have this belief that when someone passes, there’s no physical ghosts. But elements of those people inhabit those who care about them. I have your energy, your excitement and your lust for the world, and I only wish we could be passionate about it together.

You make an impression on me every day. Sometimes it’s sad, but more often it’s good; the memories, the jokes, the advice and the friendship. And I just want the world to know that you did change lives like you always wanted to. You inspire people to be the best they possibly can be, and that’s never going to end.

I miss your charm, and your intelligent and philosophical 3am thoughts. It’s still a little hard and a little weird, and I’m not sure if my brain is ever going to quite comprehend it, and if it does I don’t think it ever entirely will. But a lot has happened in the past two and a half years and I’m always wishing that you were here to enjoy it too.

And now there is someone here. He can’t be identified, but he’s been removed from the ditch. They pulled him out by his leg, and his ambulance followed my scooter almost all the way home. Somewhere out there, there’s a family who might not know yet. I only hope when they do they can somehow, someday come to terms with it. Maybe I will too.

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