Summer will always remind me of hot, sweltering nights spent drinking sangria, through the dripping fairy lights of your bedroom window. A sticky, starry sky looked back at us, the glow of the moon almost golden in the heat. Fourteen meant we weren't growing up fast enough and a liquor cabinet key seemed to hold the answer to that problem.
You taught me how to drink that night.
(You also showed me how beautiful it was to just hold your breath till your head spins and reality seems like it is going to fade further and further away.)
Six summers ago I met a boy who liked to tell me how much like summer I was. He was big boned and thin skinned and the first time I told him he wasn't mine to keep, he left handprints on my skin that reminded you of a canvas covered in autumn leaves that you saw in New York. Then you proceeded to break every single window in his house (Yes, even the one in the attic he loved so much.)
You taught me how to smile through heartbreak that night.
(You also showed me how to breathe through the broken pain that came from a pair of violent hands that didn't know how to accept themselves in any other way.)
We took our easels up to the woods that hot summer day and didn't speak until we were both finished our paintings. I just drew a face. I always drew the same face. When you showed me what you had made, I saw angry slashes of red across a vacant canvas, a pair of scarlet lips open in its center, as though in a silent scream. When I looked at you, your face was shiny...not with sweat, but with tears.
"What is it?"
You taught me how to draw more than faces that day.
(You showed me what it was like to breathe in a life into a thing that was too broken to breathe by itself.)
It has been four summers, seventeen days, twelve hours, twenty three minutes and ten seconds since the most beautiful service I have ever seen. Your mother was pale, but always graceful in her kindness, in her wisdom. She asked me to speak for you. She asked me to tell people what you were like.
If she had given me a year, maybe I could do justice to you. So instead, I told them about the movie we had watched based on our favourite novel where a man had been held trial for a crime he never committed and forgotten on a prison island somewhere in the middle of the ocean. I told them about how he slowly lost his powerful faith in God, and how one day...he was saved, redeemed and given back his life. I told them about that moment, the electricity, the elation we had both felt in the second.
To me, you are the electricity I felt in that moment.
To me, you were the saviour who caused my freedom. To me, you were the elation of a moment where your world, your life, your whole being changes for the better.
That is what you were like. That is who you will always be.
In the end, it was you who taught my summers to breathe.
In the end, you taught me to be a novel, not just a summer read.