One: Sweater Weather
Routine. I’ve missed having a routine in my life. For far too long my life was a mess and I couldn’t even manage to put on matching socks. It’s only been recently that I’ve been able to move forward with a day and actually have some sort of routine. That was due to the excessive therapy I’ve been taking part in. The first three years I refused to listen or speak to anyone, now, after four years, opening up to someone actually seemed to help.
I lost the love of my life. I don’t need sympathy and I certainly don’t expect it, so when it gets brought up and people say “I’m so sorry,” it enraged me. Pitty. It’s something I can’t stand.
But after four years I finally wake up in the morning without wanting the day to end as soon as my eyes opened.
My girlfriend, Jade, passed away in a car accident four years, two weeks and three days ago. I’ve been without her for 1,477 days. It nearly killed me, not the accident, but losing her. The one person who understood me like no one else did.
I’ve come a long way and a lot of it has been because of the efforts I put towards making sure Jade is remembered. I have a foundation in her name, once a year all money raised is donated to the North Carolina General Hospital towards accident victims. It helps families without insurance and although I can’t fix everyone’s problems, the most I can do is help in Jade’s name.
Mason, my brother, had been extremely helpful with everything. More so than I ever expected from him, but at the same time I wasn’t surprised when he put himself out there to help whenever he could. Regardless of our distant childhood, I knew he was a good guy. He always have been - I was just ignorant to the fact.
Now, Mason was the person who kept me balanced.
“Aye, Tommy,” His fingers snapped in front of my face and I pulled myself out of my own deep thoughts to look at Mason, who was furrowing his brows at me, “Dude, where are you?”
“Uh... Here. I’m right here,” I nodded to convince myself that I had been paying attention to whatever Mason was saying, but I knew better. Shrugging my shoulders, I slumped back in my chair and sighed, “I’m sorry, man. What were you saying?”
A goofy grin appeared on my little brother’s face as he pulled a small box from his pocket and before he even opened it, I knew what it was. The diamond ring inside was a clear indication of his intentions, “I’m going to ask her tonight. I have reservations at this amazing restaurant just outside of town and I’m going to put it in the food when she goes to the bathroom.”
I couldn’t help but chuckle. It was all very Mason-like to be extremely cheesy like this, but a line had to be drawn, “No... Don’t put it in the food. Too cliché.”
“Hm... You think so?”
I nodded my head, “Yup, it wouldn’t end so well if she ended up eating it. You don’t need to be all spontaneous like this, Mase. Just get down on your knee after or during dinner and ask her.”
“But that means I have to speak... And move,” He responded, making me well aware of his nerves, “Jesus, man. I could get tongue tied and fuck up.”
“Well, it wouldn’t be you if that didn’t happen,” I assured him before the door to my office opened and Jenna walked in. I swung my arm slightly, “Yeah, sure. Come on in.”
A slight giggle escaped her lips as she narrowed her eyes at me, “Your secretary told me to come in.”
I had to talk to her about that.
Mason turned in his seat to smile at Jenna. Every time he seen her, his eyes lit up in the most amazing way. It was pure joy and happiness. It was rare that I ever seen him without a smile on his face when Jenna was around, “You look gorgeous, as always.”
“Nice try, but I was just working out so I’m a mess,” She laughed before greeting him with a kiss, “Are you ready to head out? I have a few things to do before dinner tonight.”
“Yeah, I’m good to go.”
As Mason stood from his chair, grasping onto Jenna’s hand, he gave me a nod goodbye and I reciprocated the action, “Have a good night, guys.”
As soon as the office door shut, I was filled with negative emotions. Loneliness, regret, sadness and pain. I knew why I was feeling this way, I had caused it myself but I wasn’t sure if I was willing to change it.
Shortly after Jade passed, I had been diagnosed with depression, so for the last four years I’ve been taking medication daily and it has helped tremendously. I’m over it. I’m tired of living my life around the control of a stupid orange pill, so a few days ago I stopped. Slowly, but surely, the lack of medication was catching up with me. My doctor said that would be a sign of me not being ready to drop the medication, but it didn’t make me want to take them any more.
It sucked. Not only did Jade leave me with a broken heart but she left me broken internally. I’ll never be fixed permanently. There will always be a hole in my heart that will remain there until I die, I was damaged goods.
Reluctantly, I tugged my desk drawer open and picked up the bottle of medication. This was my life now, and without these little pills, I didn’t feel like living.
“You have people to live for,” the voice of my therapist rings in my head and I close my eyes.
Mila, mom, Mason... They all need me. At least, I think they do.
Before I could convince myself otherwise, I popped a pill in my mouth and took a deep breath after swallowing. I only needed thirty minutes and most of these feelings would begin to go away.
I hated this depression that followed me through life. It made me feel all kinds of low and when I wasn’t medicated, I was a completely different person than the man I want to be. My mom was the first person who suggested I go to the doctor and mention the possibility of depression. She had noticed my constant staring at the wall and rarity to smile. I knew how I felt on the inside but I never said it because I didn’t feel normal, I didn’t want people to look at me like this fucked up person who feels completely random and heightened emotions all the time.
But I am. And I’m not fucked up because of it, I’m human.
I returned to my loft in New York City, my new choice of residence since trying to move along my life and past the life the had been taken from me. New York did me good, I had far too many reminders in North Carolina that continuously weighed me down and this was the change I needed to move forward.
Mason and I had made New York City the place to start a company of our own, right in the center of the financial district our architecture company ′Reid Brothers′ was settled in a cozy little building. Mason came up with the name by referencing the Property Brothers and Warner Brothers, I suppose he thought that we would become an iconic brother duo someday.
I tossed my keys on the coffee table and headed to the kitchen almost instantly to take a cold beer from the fridge. At this moment my little brother could be becoming engaged to one of my best friends, Mason’s life was perfect and I was happy for him in every way. I often wondered what my life would be like if Jade were still here. I know that we would be happy, maybe we would have a kid. A red head like her was what I imagined. We would have had a fall wedding because the color of the leaves would be a perfect background for wedding photos, and because, of course, Jade loved autumn and the sweater weather.
The thoughts that went through my head was enough to kill me, but I wasn’t lucky enough to be dead.
My phone buzzed and I picked it up to see that Jenna had texted me a photo of her hand with a large diamond ring on her ring finger. The photo was titled, “Thomas! He proposed!”
I wasn’t sure what happened but my heart sunk in my chest and my eyes became blurry. Without responding, I tossed my phone aside and leaned back against the couch, closing my eyes. I’m happy for them. I’m happy that they’re happy and I wouldn’t let my pathetic self ruin that for them.
Just as I thought that my day couldn’t be filled with any more surprises my phone notified me of a Facebook notification. I wasn’t a Facebook or social media kind of guy, rarely did I take a look at what other people were doing in their lives nor did I update the public of what was going on in mine. That made getting the notification all the more strange for me, and when I noticed that it was a message from a complete stranger I became more confused.
Who is this and what the hell does she want? A hook up? That’s what Tinder is for. I’m embarrassed to admit that I’ve used Tinder more than the average teen, but sometimes I needed to get my mind off things without committing to another girl. I wasn’t sure that would ever be possible again anyway.
Violet seemed to have sent me a long message, a part of me didn’t want to bother reading it but something compelled me to. The last name of this girl’s profile. Cooper. That was also Jade’s last name and though I don’t believe in signs, this seemed like one.
I know that you don’t know me and this may be strange receiving a message from someone you have never met or probably even heard of, but I need to know you. As you can tell on my profile, my name is Violet. Violet Cooper, to be exact. I’m sure that name means something to you because if I’m correct you dated my cousin Jade.
I’m not sure if she told you about me, but growing up Jade and I were close. Practically sisters. Unfortunately as we got older we let stupid things, such as boys, come between us and I regret it more than ever after my father recently informed me of Jade’s passing.
This message is extremely hard for me to write knowing that I can’t apologize to Jade or make amends over something that now seems so stupid. But it’s like I said, I need to know you. Jade’s social media made it very clear that you were her whole world and if anyone could catch me up on her life and what she had become, it’s you.
I never had the opportunity to say goodbye to her and I live with that pain every day, so if it isn’t too much to ask I would love to meet you for coffee so we can talk. About Jade, I mean. Maybe it will help my guilt or maybe it will confirm that I made a complete mess of things, but I want to know that she was happy.
Please let me know if this works for you and I will accommodate you any way that I can.
Violet Cooper? I furrowed my eyebrows and clicked onto her profile to see who this girl was. Of course, I know that she’s Jade’s cousin based on the message she had sent me, but what else is there to know?
She had red hair, it was the first thing I noticed and in a weird way it made me smile without even realizing it. Long red hair, brown eyes and a contagious smile. She’s beautiful - like Jade. But that’s just it, she isn’t Jade and she never will be.
It felt like I spent hours on her profile, staring at her and trying to pick apart her features that resembled Jade in any way. The hair was a dead giveaway.
A lot of her profile was private which urged me to hit the ‘Add as a Friend’ button. Call me desperate, but I needed to know more about this girl.