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Mike Reyes, aka Mr. Controversy, has considered himself a writer ever since he was a child. He wrote for various school publications from about 1995 until 2006, and currently runs both The Bookish Kind and Mr. Controversy, which is an offshoot of the regular column he wrote in High School. He's also authored several short stories such as "The Devil's Comedian", "The Devil v. George W. Bush", and most recently "Wait Until Tomorrow". He resides in New Jersey. Any inquiries for reprinting, writing services, or general contact, should be forwarded to: michaelreyes72@hotmail.com

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Thursday, October 2, 2008

When You're Gone

Ok, personal time again. Those who want to read about politics and other stuff, you’ll have to wait. Skip this post if you don’t want to read a serious account of something in my personal life.

Randomly, while driving home yesterday, my mind drifted to the subject of friends. I didn’t know why, but tangentially I wandered into thinking about a dear friend of mine who had passed away last year. Dana was only 23; she would have turned 24 in October of 2007. (She's in the picture at the top of the story. She's the bridesmaid with the glasses standing right next to the bride.) While at a funeral for her girlfriend’s grandfather, she was so overcome by emotional stress that a rush of blood to her heart took her down. She was born with a heart condition, and she had put on weight in the past couple of years, which exacerbated her condition. In the summer of 2007, I lost my friend whom I’d grown up with, fallen for a couple times, and experienced a good portion of my adolescence with. Those of you who know me from Elementary, Middle, or High School know of the story of Dana and me. Anyone that’s interested and doesn’t know it, here it goes.

We met in Third Grade, and ever since the beginning we were on and off, back and forth, friends and enemies. At the center of our feuds was a highly volatile attraction between the two of us, which lead to many one week periods where we’d claim we were dating, which were always followed by bitter break ups, which were then followed by being friends again. If you talked to my current girlfriend, who was also the first person I ever went on an actual date with, she could tell you what I was like when I was dumped. I wasn’t pleasant; in fact I was a son of a bitch. I was immature about the whole situation, and I was an angry, vengeful asshole because I had been dumped. I eventually grew out of it, or at least I’d like to think, but not before going through my own Cold War with Dana, with all of our mutual friends involved.

We had finally dated in the traditional sense (it lasted for longer than a week, we went on dates, passed notes, etc.) Sophomore year of High School. This was in 1999, mind you. TRL had just become the big thing, I was harboring a crush for newly crowned Pop princess Britney Spears, and I was still raving about The Phantom Menace. The last couple times we actually attempted to date, it always seemed to be at the beginning of a school year. I don’t know why, maybe the sense of renewal, or maybe the fact we hadn’t seen each other over the summer, but that October we started to date again, right around the time of Homecoming. January of 2000, it ended for the last time, and we were at each other’s throats like anything. The Cold War had begun, and lasted for quite a while. Thus, Mr. Controversy was born: my first column, on Love, was inspired by my upset of her dumping me, and that lead to the regularly featured column that started this very blog.

After the dust had settled, and we had graduated from High School, we sporadically kept in touch. Strangely enough, I wanted to go out with her again. It never happened, but for a brief period of time I really wanted to start seeing her again, and in my traditionally persistent style, I pursued her. As always she had a couple guys she was infatuating over, in her typical style. She’d actually dated one for a little while. Out of the blue though, she told me that she had kissed this girl randomly and actually enjoyed it. Dana, the girl I had known for so many years to be boy crazy, seemed to be thinking things over in her personal life. I joked with her that she’d probably chase after the girl she kissed like she did all those other boys in her life. Sure enough she was dating her a couple months later, and I was kind of shocked. I mean, like I said, she was boy crazy; but I could see she was getting fed up with men, which really wasn’t helped by the fact that she didn’t have the best relationship with her father.

Her relationship with her girlfriend brought happiness to her that I hadn’t seen before. She was content, and she really seemed to like this girl. Yes, I was jealous; but I grew to realize that this was what she wanted and as clichéd as it sounds you wouldn’t want to stand in the way of a true friend’s happiness. It was about that time that she came out to her grandparents, whom she lived with and had taken care of her pretty much her whole life. This lead to a falling out, and her moving out of the house and in with her girlfriend. This was the last any of us had heard of her until the unfortunate news.

Mary, my best friend’s ex-girlfriend, broke the news to me over the phone. She’d heard a rumor that Dana had just died, but she wasn’t sure if it was true or not. I hoped against all hope it was nothing, but I had a feeling that it was more than some rumor flashed into our existence. Surely enough, it wasn’t a rumor. I told Snorb, said best friend/ex of Mary, and we reminisced about the whole damn thing. Never did I know that she was his first kiss; which was a strange coincidence because she was also my first kiss. Here we both knew her for so long, and we never knew that we both kissed the same girl. And now she was dead, taken from us too soon by the heart defect that she was born with. Snorb, Mary, and I were all at the funeral on 7/7/07; which was ironic because it was supposed to be a lucky day. None of us were feeling lucky that we had lost a good friend of ours, without even one last chance to say goodbye.

Dana would have been 25 this October. She was always into music, she was big on crappy teen movies and slasher flicks, and she loved babysitting her cousin. She should have been here, picking on me, being loved by her girlfriend and her family, and she should have been happy. I’m not very religious, but if there is such a thing as Heaven, there would be no reason for her not to be up there. She never did anything that would have qualified her for Hell. She was a good person, a great friend, and she is sorely missed. It is because of her that I have this blog to call my own, because without her Mr. Controversy would have never been born in print format, and for that I am eternally greatful. I miss my friend, and I hope that she's doing well, wherever she may be.

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