And she died a little under three years ago. I think the first time I met her was when she showed up at one of my improv theatre groups, wanting to participate. She was a goth, like a good many other people in my group, and I remember being struck by how beautiful she was, and how she really didn't need all the makeup.

I don't recall if they were going out at the time I met her, but she soon hooked up with a good friend of mine, Devon. Devon, a part-time goth, is someone I've written about before, quite often, and I recall being happy for him. He had been having more than a little bad luck in the way of relationships, and I hoped this one would go better than the last few.

The night before she killed herself, Adam, Devon, Natalie, and myself were in Devon's basement, with bags full of cookies, chips, cheesy-things, pop, and a rented copy of Pink Floyd's The Wall. We hadn't moved into the TV room yet, and we were all sitting on, or around a couch, just joking and laughing. I remember noticing that Natalie wasn't laughing too much, or talking too much, or doing much of anything. Just kinda sitting on the floor near the couch, her arms around her legs, smiling at our jokes, watching us. I wanted to cheer her up, but I really didn't have any idea how. So, I did the only thing I could think of. I leaned over, extending my arm towards her.

"Cookie?" I offered. It was a Chewy Chips Ahoy, my then-favourite type of junk food in the world.

She looked up at me, and blinked, smiling.

"Cookie!" I repeated, "Just for you."

She laughed quietly, and shook her head.

"Why not? They're good for you. Really, they are."

"No thank you."

I chuckled. "But whyever not? It's a cookie. I'll be hurt forever if you don't accept my humble offerings of food."

Laughing again, she declined. "Thanks anyway. I've got to watch my figure, though. So no cookies for me."

I grinned, and shook my fist in mock frustration. Soon after that, the cookies eaten and forgotten, we sat down to watch The Wall. Natalie had never seen it before, and we brewed coffee in the TV room, sipping java and listening to Floyd. The evening eventually ended, and I went home.

The next morning, Adam and Aun came over to my house. They had just stepped in the front door when the phone rang. It was Devon, and he asked me to take him off speakerphone. I did, and he asked to speak with Adam. I handed the phone to Adam, and after a few moments, he hung it up, looking at me.

"Natalie's dead." He said it in the same way one would say 'the banana is yellow', without life to it. "Everyone is at Kelly's. Let's go."

Kelly was an ex-girlfriend of mine, and we had stayed friends since then. She was a lot closer to Natalie than I was, and I wondered how her and Devon were doing. We ran, literally, to Kelly's house, where Kelly, her boyfriend Alex, and Devon were standing on the front porch. I gave Kelly a hug, and she wept on my shoulder. I didn't know what to say, so I didn't say anything at all.

When I looked at Devon, I could tell he had been crying as well. He looked at me, and shook his head. "Oh Christ, Jai...I'm sorry I didn't tell you over the phone..I dunno. I didn't want you to find out. I wasn't thinking....I'm sorry, man..." I looked at him a moment longer, and gave him a hug, because I didn't know what else to do. Devon was quite a few inches taller than me, and outweighed me by about fifty pounds, and for a long moment on Kelly's porch, we just held each other, lost in our own thoughts.

After the funeral, and burial, friends drifted apart, lovers became enemies, and the group was never the same for it. I stayed with Devon at his house for a while afterwards. I didn't cry for Natalie, nor did I cry for any number of other friends and family I've lost. But when I was cleaning the TV room, with the smell of coffee thick in the air, and I picked up the empty bag of Chewy Chips Ahoy...the fact she was gone, really and truly gone forever, hit me. I fell onto the couch, threw the bag across the room, and cradled my head in my hands. Tears welling in my eyes, I muttered to myself for a few minutes. When I finally collected myself, and I left the room, I tossed the empty cookie bag in the garbage.

It was then that I saw the one Chewy Chips Ahoy cookie left on the coffee table, where I had put it after Natalie refused it.

I left it there. I don't know who eventually ate it, or threw it away. But I didn't touch it. I couldn't. I never would have thought that I was telling the truth when I said I'd be hurt forever if she didn't eat the cookie.

Before writing this up, I knew I'd need a cup of coffee. Please bear with me, as what I'm about to write about has hurt me like nothing else.

Yes. Natalie. Her name was Natalie.
I met her through my brother, Bill. Bill told me how great she was, and that he wanted to go out with her. I smiled, happy for my brother, and eager to meet this girl I had heard so much of. The day I met her, she told me she was vegetarian. At first, I didn't think too much about her. I just thought she was a great girl, and I hoped my brother would be happy with her.

The day after I met her, my brother was trying to teach her how to skateboard. He would put one hand on her shoulder and one near her cute little ass. Then he would say, "Run, Natalie, Run." She would run and skateboard along. When my brother was off on the board on his own, I joked with her about him putting his hand on her butt. She laughed and I mocked the motion. As time went on, she started to come to see me in homeroom. I would smack her butt every time I saw her as a little joke. She would smile and laugh with me and say, "Would you stop that?"

Soon, she would call, and instead of asking for my brother, she would just talk to me. Time progressed, and so did our relationship. We grew close. She would sneak in my window at 1:30AM and stay until 3:00AM.

Everything was going very well, and we were slowly falling in love with each other. Then one day we were at one of her friend's house's, and she was begging her mom to let Natalie sleep over. Suddenly, she said, "Come on mom, she leaves in a month!" My smile fell quickly, and I could feel the color fading from my face. I walked away. I had known she was leaving for Chile for 10 months for a while, but I never imagined that she would leave in a month. Later, I asked her about it. She confirmed that she left in one month, one day. I said, "Oh".

And that was the beginning of a long, love testing journey, which has stretched me to my limit every day of my life since. Time passed, and I knew I wanted to tell her I loved her, but I couldn't find the right moment. My friend gave me suggestions, and listened to all my bitching. I am very grateful for what he's done for me. Then one day, we were online and she said, "Natalie loves you!!!". I said "Who's this?", as I thought it was someone else, due to the third person reference. She said "It's me" and I said, "I love you too".

Two weeks before she was to leave, she left for Niagra Falls for a week. I then learned, first hand, how bad the next 10 months were going to hurt. Those two weeks were hell for me.

I tried to spend as much time as possible with her. After she got back from her week in Niagra Falls, she saw me every single day for the last week she was here, except the last day. The first day I saw her of that last week, I bought her a $400 diamond necklace. The last time we saw each other, we thought we were going to meet again, but she left early the next day. She cried, and I cried. That was August 12, 2000. It is now August 22, 2000.

Through the help of friends, I have come to appreciate what she's given me. We still talk every day through e-mail, and we both eagerly anticipate the day we can see each other again. I love that girl.

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