Then, there they are. The letters from his time in Iraq staring back at me from the cardboard box where they have been stored for these many years. I look at them, debating whether to open and read them again. I know that re-reading the letters, and, oh look, there are some greeting cards too from after he got back, will bring a huge sadness because ... well, because Jamie isn't walking on this Earth anymore. And I missed time with him, so busy with my own life.
I decide to open and read one card and pick one up at random. It is a Christmas card, no envelope, so I don't even know the year. But the content tells me it is after Desert Shield and Desert Storm. He is in the Golden Knights and he is headed to Arizona for off-season training. He is 8 months with his current girlfriend and things are looking promising for this relationship. His phone is changed because he was getting collections calls for two people he didn't even know. And he loves me and misses me.
And then I cry, mourning the loss of my friend again, wishing I had known that he needed a friend, needed me, towards the end of his life, wishing I could have been there for him. My mind goes through our long friendship. In college, when he longed for me, I was in love with someone else. Then, years later, after my divorce, when I was ready to love him back, he spiraled away from me. Then we just settled into a friendship. We were pen pals through Desert Shield and Storm. He wrote some of the most amazing letters ever. I can't read them right now. Maybe in a few years.
I hold him in a special place in my heart. He was my precious friend. Desperado. Jamie. I love you, sweetheart. Rest in peace.