Dear Kyle,

I thought about you again today. It’s gotten to the point, after all of these years, that I think about you and smile instead of breaking down. Not that I don’t break down, sometimes. There are a few songs that always do it to me. I freaked my kid out the other day, when one came on Pandora and I just lost it. We were packing up our apartment, that shitty little apartment that we’d finally outgrown. The lines from ‘When I See You Again’ just jumped out at me. “I’ve come a long way, from where we began”. If that isn’t right. The last time you saw me I was a broke single mom. I didn’t have a job, didn’t have a voice. I was nowhere, going nowhere. Now, I’m living in my first house, happily married with two little girls.

I think you’d like my husband. He’s into computers and he likes taking things apart. He likes fireworks, but not as much as you. He’s funny, like you were. I wish you could have met him.

My daughter reminds me of you. She’s funny, she loves to read. She has way too much fun when we set up a firepit, which is just you all over. I tell her stories about you, and how you were the only teenager with a receding hairline all summer. I tell her about the time we almost blew the house up on the 4th of July. I tell her that you were smart.

I tell her that I should have done something.

Dear Kyle,

It’s hard to be on Facebook on the anniversary. It just reminds me how many people loved you. I haven’t seen your little girl since the funeral, but that’s not surprising. It’s not like I’d cross paths with her mom often, not hanging out with that whole crowd anymore. Kind of felt like after I left the ex, everyone but you and Dan forgot about me. It’s weird, Dan being his brother, that he should have stuck around. I wish I would have told you when you were still here that I appreciated it.

It’s all for the best that the other’s leave me alone. For the most part, they’re self-destructive. Most of them are still using. I don’t want the kids around that. I was always the outcast, the clean person hanging out with the stoners. Guess I can be thankful of that, now. But when I see them, in public, it’s like seeing strangers wearing the faces of friends. Even the faces seem different, but we’re all getting older.

Except you.

Dear Kyle,

We lost Dan, but I guess you know that. I wasn’t encouraged to attend the funeral, but I went with his mom to see him at the hospital before he went. He looked very much like he always did, it was hard to imagine that he was so sick. I wish he had learned from what happened to you.

He didn’t leave behind any blood children, but three step babies.

I couldn’t help him, either. I don’t know what I would have done. He knew what he was doing, he had to. So I did what I could. I brought my daughter to see him, hoping it would remind him what he had to stick around for. You know, he was always a better uncle than his brother was a dad.

It was very much like you. He was surrounded by users and pushers. I’ve gotten better at not feeling guilty, but it’s still there. I don’t know what I could have done, or if either one of you would have listened to me if I’d tried. At least I tried, with Dan. He shouldn’t have had to go, and neither should you. You were both so much better than you were ever treated.

I miss you. I’ve got a lot to tell you when I see you again.

All my love, little brother.

Disclaimer: This isn’t fiction. I had a friend named Kyle who died from an illness he got from a dirty needle. When we were teenagers he and his dad lived in the same house as my mom and me. My mom was sick, and his dad was an old friend of hers. So we were like brother and sister for almost a decade. He’s the closest thing to a brother I’ve ever had. I listen to Wiz Khalifa’s See You Again, and it makes me think of him. I hope that this isn’t too much of a downer, because Kyle wouldn’t want that. He always wanted to make people laugh, he loved fireworks and cars. I wish I could have helped him. Maybe by sharing stories about him, I’ll inspire someone who’s suffering from a drug addiction. You’ve probably have a friend who will really miss you, so please get some help.

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