A week after my 18th birthday, one of the guys who had left school in year 10 was in a car accident. He came off the road and hit a tree. The only person in the car who was conscious dragged out three other people, but his best mate, the driver, was trapped. He had to watch his best mate burn.
At our age group deaths are a tragedy, but this guy was one of the few popular people who deserved their popularity based on their personality, not their clothes, or their social status. His funeral was held in the biggest church in our region, and it was PACKED, people lined the walls, up in the choir, and about two meters out of each door.
The last time I ever saw that guy alive was on my birthday. I was working the next morning, and my boss said to me as I walked in the door 'a young bloke was killed on the causeway this morning, so if you hear anyone talking about it don't worry too much.' I knew instantly that this was someone I knew. At 10:30 my senior came in, all stressed and worried. I remember so vividly when I found out that it had been Jason's car. I was bagging a loaf of bread and I heard Sharon on the phone, when she dropped Jason's name. I knew instantly. I stopped, with one hand on the base of the bread, ready to flip it over to seal it, and looked at her. She walked in and I just whispered 'Jason ****'. And she said that it had been his car. Time stood still and I felt like an icy cold hand had wound around my stomach. And then it was back to work, blinking furiously.
I remember walking out the back of work to the volonteer store where mum was. the door was locked, so I stood there, with my face pressed into the door, sobbing.
I remember standing at the bus stop the next Monday, looking at Ellen, both of us wanting to say something, but neither game to in case the other didn't know.
I remember telling my mate Jess on the bus that he'd died, and not being able to sob anymore, just sit there and wipe tears off my face.
I remember walking across the lights and seeing another mate, and she took one look at me, stepped back and said 'oh god who died?'
I remember wanting to hug my best friend that day. But he just laughed at me.
I remember sitting in a hallway with a mate, crying. And I remember another mate, who didn't know the guy, coming over and giving us the biggest hugs.
I remember watching one of his other best mates in a room that had been set up for us, holding a hubcap from the car, and stroking it, like touching it would connect them again.
I remember his parent arriving at the church and my friend Camille saying 'his mother is still waiting for him to come home'.
I remember walking up to get communion, my mate Ange stepped aside, and there was the coffin, with his picture there, staring stright down the aisle I was coming up. When I was nearly out I ran, past my friends, and just kept going. Then I stopped. I had to see it through. I remeber crying on the school counsellor just standing there, and letting me cry on his shoulder like I had never cried before.
I remember his best friend carrying the coffin out of the church, and all I could focus on was his shoulders shaking.
I remeber as he was being lowered into the ground, his mother saying 'I love you Jason, I love you' and I remember feeling my heart being torn in two.
I remember the night after he died, in that period between asleep and waking, seeing him walking out a door, and turning to back and saying goodbye.