In my eighteen years of life, I’ve always been told how mature I am for my age. I kept my group of friends small, because I did not want to have friends like the cheerleaders do. Instead of going out on a Friday night, I prefered to stay at home and finish school work. I’ve never been to a Friday night football game and I have yet to experience the bitter taste of beer. My heart is still young, as I never allowed some boy to age it. My best friend is my brother Jimmy. We spent everyday together for as long as we could. Whether it was binge watching a show on netflix or going out to see a movie, we were partners in crime. I never had a better friend than my brother, and I doubt I ever will. If I could go back and change things, I would tell Jimmy how much he meant to me. I would do anything to go back to that day. Nice to meet you, my name is Joey Belari and this is my story.
I sat in class patiently waiting for the bell to ring. It was a week before summer break and I could already smell the chlorine from our pool that fills my house in the summer time. Junior year flew by and I’ve never been more excited to go on summer vacation. I need a break away from the body odor that clouds near the gym and the cheap perfume that floats off freshman backs. The bell finally rings and I go to meet Jimmy from his calculus class. He was so smart, I always tried to keep up with him but it was impossible. We walk out to my car and set our bags in the back seat. It was a piping 93 degrees that day in New Jersey so we let the car air out before we suffocated ourselves by sitting in it. It was a Friday afternoon and I got paid today. Jimmy and I went out for some frozen yogurt before we went home. He got the same thing every time; vanilla yogurt with every kind of fruit and granola. Then there’s me, who gets everything chocolate and is patiently waiting for diabetes or a heart attack to slap me across the face any day now. We play John Mayer on the way home and let the wind hit us in the face. I glanced over at Jimmy as he looked out the window, he looked so peaceful. That’s the last memory I have with my brother.
Two days later I woke up in the hospital with my mom and dad sitting beside me. Dark circles shaped their eyes, they seemed to be stressed, but more importantly worried.
‘’What happened to me? Why am I here? Where’s Jimmy?’’ panic filled my voice as I feared the worst.
‘’You were driving home’’ my mother said. ‘’A car hit you as you were making the turn to come down our drive. The guy was an alcoholic and was on his way home from the bar.’’
I sat there in disbelief, soaking in the shock of the accident. Little flashbacks slowly start to cloud my mind. I can remember looking down and seeing blood run from Jimmy’s face. My dad and mom looked at each other. When their faces returned with mine, tears filled their eyes. They didn’t have to tell me what happened to Jimmy, their look gave it all.
Something changed inside of me after that day. My brother, Jimmy had always been the better half of me, always encouraging me to do better and to never give up. He wasn’t here anymore and I lost all of my motivation.
Overtime I became less and less social. No matter where I went or what I did, it constantly reminded me of Jimmy. I became distant.
I wanted to forget what had happened to Jimmy. I wanted to get rid of the guilt that haunts me everyday. I needed to get my mind off of things.
‘’Hey Kushie, when’s the next party?’’
‘’Yeah right, like i’m gonna tell you Joey’’ he smirked. ‘’What are you a part of the neighborhood watch?’’
He looked at his friends and of course they all laughed.
‘’I’m just trying to do something new’’ I muttered as I walked away.
As I sat in the next two periods, I thought about Jimmy. I never had to worry about making friends and trying new things when he was around. He was the only friend I ever needed. I never felt so lonely in my life. The bell had rung and I was walking out to my car when I heard Kushie yell for me.
‘’Hey Joey! Do you think I could catch a ride home?’’
I had no clue why Kush was asking me for a ride, but without hesitation I agreed.
‘’Yeah, sure. Although I should say no since you blew me off earlier!’’ as I gave him a little smirk.
It was a little awkward at first, but then all of a sudden I knew why Kushie wanted a ride.
‘’So were you serious about coming to a party?’’
‘’Well, not a Project X type of party, but I do want to come to one. Since Jimmy passed I just haven’t been the same. I need a way to forget about the things I’ve done, and the way I have hurt my family. I just need a way to forget everything.’’
Kushie and I got to talking and I was going to my first party Saturday night. He was gonna take me to a college party about a half hour away. I wouldn’t have to worry about driving because he knew this guy who has an apartment on campus.
‘’Hey do you want to come in for a little? My parents aren’t home and I want to show you something’’
I looked at my phone and it was only ten till three. My parents seemed to stop caring about a lot of things anymore, especially the times when I came home. I followed Kushie into his house.
‘’Have you ever smoked weed before?’’ He asked already knowing the answer.
‘’No, I haven’t. I don’t do drugs.’’
He laughed and proceeded to tell me that weed isn’t a drug and how it’s a plant and grows in nature, blah, blah, blah. I smoked a joint that day all to myself. Tears rolled down my face as I laughed at stupid things like Kushies dog or this one story about the time he wrecked a skateboard. I was so hungry, and so was Kushie. I ordered us a pizza and wings. We sat there for an hour or so and just talked. It was nice talking about something that didn’t involve Jimmy for once.
I took the scenic route home, taking in all the trees and streams, they seemed extra beautiful today. My mind wondered to Jimmy, and I smiled like a little kid thinking of all the good times we shared driving down this road. I never meant to get us in the accident that day, and although the guy who hit me was drunk, I still feel responsible. I just wish people would understand what it is like to be me right about now. I pulled off to the side of the road. I cried for the first time since the accident.
I woke up the next morning around noon, something I never do. It was Saturday and I was going to my first party. I could tell I was nervous because my stomach had been rumbling all day long. Being nervous is a normal thing for a first time party goer. I was terrified of all the things I would allow myself to do. Since Jimmy’s death I have done so many things I told myself I wouldn’t do. Smoking weed being the last on my list. It was going on nine when Kushie texted me saying that he is about to leave his house. I took one last look in the mirror. I didn’t realize the girl looking back at me. I traded in my jeans and tshirt for a skimpy skirt and a shirt that barely covered my shoulders. I grabbed my eyeliner and touched up my makeup one last time. A car beeped outside. My parents didn’t even notice I had left the house.
‘’Hey Joey! Are you ready to get drunkkkkkk!’’
A smile came across my face. ‘’I can see you were pregaming it, huh Kushie?’’
He laughed and pulled out a bag of weed. There was so much, and it was all for us. We get to the college and before we go in, we light up a joint.
‘’Just a little something to take away your nerves.’’
‘’I didn’t think they were that noticeable’’ as I take a hit of the joint.
We go to the house. It reeks of booze and marijuana. Everyone is so nice. I was greeted at the door with a drink.
A guy noticed me looking at it with curiosity. ‘’It’s a jaegerbomb! Just drink it!’’
I downed it without flinching. It was so good. I wanted to find that guy and get another one. Kush showed me around to his friends. They were all laid back guys with long hair. Each of them had girls with them, and they took me under their wing for the night. One of the girl’s name was Mary and she helped me find the guy who gave me the drink earlier. We got to talking and his name was Josh. He was a sophomore in college and was majoring in sociology. We talked all night long and i’m not sure if it was the drinks talking but he was super cute.
‘’Hey follow me’’ he whispered. ‘’I wanna show you something.’’
I followed him into the backyard of this house. He pulled out a bottle of Aspirin from his pocket.
‘’Are you interested?’’
‘’What is it? I don’t have a headache so I don’t need an Aspirin.’’
He laughed. ‘’It’s not that, Joey. It’s ecstasy.’’
Josh proceeded to tell me that it’ll just give me a rush. The time of my life he claims. I watched as he put one in his mouth. He reached out his palm with one in it. A half hour later I was having the time of my life. I was jumping around, dancing, yelling, taking shots. Someone bumped into me, when I turned around it was Kushie and some girl. He just gave me some look. He seemed disappointed.
‘’What are you getting yourself into Joey? You need to be careful.’’
Stumbling and slurring on my words, I ask Josh to make me another drink. Without hesitation he does. I sit down for awhile. I can feel my heart beating, so fast and so heavy. Everyone is spinning and I can’t control my thoughts. I feel dizzy. I can’t take what’s in my system anymore. I start freaking out, I search frantically trying to find Kushie. Strobe lights hit my eyes like a bullet to the heart. I fall over. Kushie picked me up and decided to take me home.
I had the weirdest dream that night. It was a flashback to Jimmy and I swinging on our tire swings when we were younger. He spoke to me that day.
‘’Joey, my time here with you is short. Please remember all the values we had. The way you’re handling my death is not right. Mom and dad need you. I died that day because of a drunk driver, not because of you. Get your act together and live the life you imagined when you were younger. That Joey is still there, just covered by grief and sadness. I love you Joey, and i’ll see you again’’.
Just like that I lost my brother again, but this time I wasn’t sad. I came to the conclusion that no matter how many times I replay the car accident in my head, that same drunk driver killed my brother and not me.
I still talk to Kushie till this day, he’ll always be a close friend of mine. I never went back to another party, but i’m not going to lie, Kush and I will still have our pizza and wings every now and then.
Things are better with my parents now, we go to family and individual counseling twice a week. Our lives will never be the same without you Jimmy. Just know that although you may be gone, you will never be forgotten. May my beautiful brother forever rest in peace. I will see you again.