"To absent friends, lost loves, old gods, and the season of mists; and may each and every one of us always give the devil his due."

Neil Gaiman

It’s snowing outside.

Big wet flakes that look like marshmallows are wafting down haphazardly past my window to cover the ground still wet from the weeks showers. It’s March 31st and by all logic it shouldn’t be snowing in Maryland. The snow feels fitting to me somehow, not surprising. It doesn’t shake me. Nothing’s been able to shake me, nothing’s been able to truly startle or surprise me for a year now.

The first clear day of spring last year came on April 2nd, 2002. I didn’t wear a jacket for the first day of the year, but other than that things seemed as expected. In the double block of Biology we had a guest speaker who was giving a talk and I couldn’t help but look at the empty chair next to me thinking what a shame it was my lab partner Emily was sick – she would have liked this change of pace. Biology let out and I went to go eat lunch. All the teachers were rushing through the hallways with nervous expressions on their faces – they were informed there was an emergency faculty meeting at noon. Teachers and students alike, nobody knew what had happened, though it was quite obviously nothing good.

Not more than five minutes later, a friend came up. “Emily Holman killed herself.” There was a barbed silence as it tried to sink in. Tears came to my eyes and I stopped functioning normally. The rest of that day is a disorderly collection of flash-frame memories. I remember teachers noticing tearstained faces and asking if we knew what had happened; I would have to speak up and explain because everyone else was at a loss for words. I remember going outside for a walk and seeing her boyfriend laughing; I remember debating whether it was my place to tell him what had happened, and I remember choosing not to, knowing it’d be the last time he’d laugh for a while. I remember seeing the first crocus blossom of the spring; the first flower Emily would never see. I remember the wrenching sobs in the assembly as the words “hung herself” seemed to echo through the theater.

I later found out she actually did the deed on April first. That seems the sickest April Fools trick ever played, and secretly I am hoping she’ll come back tomorrow grinning to reveal what would be the greatest prank of all time. Such foolish wishful thinking is still somehow comforting. It’s scary thinking that a year of my life has passed since her death and barely a day goes by where I don’t think of her. I can still remember sound clips of her voice but the memory of her face has faded.

White is the color of mourning in some cultures and the stillness the dusting of snow brings to the ground feels eerily appropriate: it was hard to mourn her last year when the flowers were in bloom, the bright colors were a distraction. The snow is truly fitting. I miss her.