The Student News Site of Shorecrest Preparatory School

The Chronicle

The Student News Site of Shorecrest Preparatory School

The Chronicle

The Student News Site of Shorecrest Preparatory School

The Chronicle

What the Roses Meant

Written by Jake McDevitt

 

     Spending all of my time with my friends and understanding their pain didn’t prepare me for his parents. I don’t think anything would’ve properly prepared me for it, but in a way it reminded me of everything good–I was a child again. I haven’t felt as young as I did when I was with him.  

    Graham and I have been friends since fourth grade, only because I asked him to tell a girl I liked her, and I knew he was in her class.

     We had every class together, played games in school, got in trouble, rode a mattress down his staircase, had sleepovers, made group chats, called every day, played Slendytubbies, Fortnite, and Among Us, hid in Mrs. Nelson’s room, got in trouble, went ice-skating, boated together, jet skied, jumped off Shark Tower, adventured in Lakeland, went to parties, ran around on the beach, explored Weedon Island, camped on it, too, and got in trouble. A number of times. I also went to his house the weekend before. I saw his parents, brothers, and dog. It took me seven years to properly understand why I was his friend.

    Surrounded by friends, I understood I wasn’t alone. I was comforted because I wasn’t the only one dealing with this. I sat next to Zoe Cattran, who was fidgeting and picking apart the dead roses that she held. Whispers echoed in Court James’ front yard, bouncing off the fence, garage, and windows, as we lingered, awaiting Graham’s family. Our plan was to be enough for them; showing our support while also not overwhelming them; a balance of cards stacked together. Even with the plan, I felt an uneasiness, a kind of nervousness that made it hard to breathe. They were almost here.

     Graham’s family, with the burden of grief attempting to cement them to the floor, dragged themselves towards the house–I had never seen his mom, Vanissa Ma, so quiet, so lifeless. Her sentences as well. Interjected. Indistinguishable. And interrupted by tears. She couldn’t fight it. Vanissa hid her face and retreated into John Floto. John aged a couple of years from when I saw him last. He looked haunted, his head swollen with thoughts, yet nothing could be said. I don’t remember much else about how they looked—I tried to forget it.

     I remember walking from the front yard to the backyard, everyone boarding boats. I almost fell into the water as I transferred from the wooden, splintery dock to the smooth, furnished wood of the deck of the boat because I was holding on to several bouquets of pink, yellow, and red roses. Each boat sailed for Shark Tower, a tall tower sprouting out of the bay water with large, rectangular reflective boards to heed large ships. 

     I lounged on the back of Cruz Cibran’s boat and reflected on the past week. It was hard to go from seeing someone nearly every day for the past seven years to cold, harsh silence. None of it felt real. I talked with him the night of, everything was normal, and yet it wasn’t. I think I could’ve done something, and yet I didn’t. I never wanted this to happen, and yet it feels like I did.

     I cried and stopped crying in an instant, my face flush with tears. I didn’t want this to be how I thought about Graham, I yearned to laugh—and, so, I did. I must’ve looked crazy because I felt glances pierce through my back, but my mind protected me. 

     We circled Shark Tower, unloading people to jump from and spray paint the tower. I stayed, still not letting go of the roses that felt perfect, yet weren’t. As the boat gained distance from the tower, I began to loosen the grip I had, my fingers lingering on the bent stems that held the slightly wilted petals of the rose, in preparation to let go of my emotions. I handed out the roses to those who were left on the boat, an even amount of roses for each person; seemingly perfect. I don’t know how to let go, but I’m sure this is it.

     I plucked the petals off roses, gingerly and individually, feeling the microscopic tears that I produced, searching for intricate secrets that the rose held with each sensation. I focused on the natural beauty of the roses and the tranquil water ahead of me. Each petal that I plucked I held, attempting to understand it, where it came from, how it grew—a universe. I couldn’t understand the universe. I couldn’t understand the sensation of the petals. I’m not sure how much I felt.

     Delayed by a breeze, the colorful rose petals were released into the serene water. The rose petals fell apart, came together, took shape in my mind and in the water. As the boat entrapped them with its wake, pink, yellow, red petals swayed carefully, forming notes and chords, an orchestra of color loudened by the reflective theater walls of water. I was entranced by their pattern, locked in place with my emotions. I felt a lot. I began to understand. Graham’s death reminded me about what living truly meant. I accepted my place in this world. Graham distracted me from the impossibly serious nature of life. I’m still a child.