We used to run outside barefoot at the sound of the ice cream truck tooling down the street to the tune of "It's a Small World." Lips and tongue blue, fingers sticky, and happy to live in that moment -- not wanting anything but that.
A few years later, we were making big plans. You took my hand in yours and pretended you knew my future. First kiss by 13 (it seemed an appropriate age at the time), we would buy adjoining houses and have our babies at exactly the same time (if they were a boy and a girl they would later marry and make us officially related). Never mind the fact that men were required for this undertaking -- as long as we were best friends, in our minds the men who would come later were secondary. We laid on the grass under a tree, and looked up at the leaves being moved by the wind -- so peaceful. We were so young, we had nothing else to do or worry about that day. The sun felt good on our legs and the grass felt cool and soft. I remember your favorite name for a girl was Faline (Bambi's deer girlfriend), and you said that this was what you would call your daughter.
We walked together, and our steps were synchronized. I wouldn't walk where you couldn't. You wouldn't enter a room if the door was closed to me -- lest we be forced to loosen our grasp on one another. We spent our time dressing up in your grandmother's good negligees and reciting the lines to Dirty Dancing as we watched the movie one more time. I always let you be Baby.
But we were too young, too young to know that sooner or later you would go where I couldn't follow; experience things that couldn't be shared even with a best friend. First it was the trip to the special doctor that did something we couldn't pronounce unless we said it slowly. That big building had so many doors that I couldn't walk through with you! Sometimes I got to sit on the fun bed with you that moved up and down with the touch of a button, but you couldn't run after the ice cream truck with me anymore with all of those tubes going into you. You couldn't run barefoot through the sprinklers with me anymore on a hot summer's day. But we still made plans. Why wouldn't we? We were too young to know any better. We would still decorate our adjoining houses in hues of pink. Soon, a few days at most, we would run barefoot in the grass again.
I'm sorry I couldn't follow. Oh, how I tried! When you couldn't play outside anymore, I stayed inside with you and watched Dirty Dancing and Pretty Woman. I said your lines for you when you couldn't, and I still always let you be Baby. When you couldn't eat or move a lot anymore, I lied still beside you and held your hand. But you left, and this time I couldn't follow. The last time I saw you, lying perfectly still in your waxen, made-up form in a bed of white satin, you were already gone. And I couldn't follow ...