Thursday was Justin's 24th birthday. I had spent the last few weeks with a growing anxiety. I had mentally circled the day in red ages ago.
In years past, my mother has assembled some sort of hoopla to celebrate Justin. Two years ago we went out to the spot where we scattered his ashes and released balloons, then she cooked all of his favorite foods and we exchanged gifts. Last year my mother and I released balloons at the park where my brother played Little League. We followed that with dinner at his favorite restaurant and a dessert that was a childhood tradition.
This year: nothing. No balloons. No birthday cake. Nothing.
No one even said a word about Justin. My sister had an appointment to get her hair thinned at 3:30 that afternoon. BestFriend called me; she didn't remember that it was Justin's birthday. I couldn't force out the words to remind her.
I couldn't bring myself to say anything to anyone. In the days leading up to the 29th I hadn't mentioned it either. I wasn't sure how to approach it with my family; I didn't want to inflict it on my friends. I know that my friends would have been supportive. When I mentioned the significance of the date after the fact in that casual-but-not-really-casual way that I bring up tough things my friends were lovely and supportive and insisted that I should've told them. It wasn't that I didn't want to, exactly. I felt incapable of forming the words. And I didn't want to shine a light on my pain, or invite people to pity me. I didn't want to be viewed as seeking attention or sympathy.
To be completely honest, I expected people to remember. Not my friends, but his friends, my family, all of the people who inserted themselves into my grief when he died.
The worst part isn't that no one reached out to me. The sad, dark part of me always expects that. The worst part is that I feel as if everyone forgot Justin. All of the people who were his friends, who promised to love him forever are gone. It hasn't even been three years and he's already been forgotten. My grandmother didn't even call.
By early afternoon, I couldn't take it anymore. I got into TheEgg and just drove. I ended up at the same sand dunes where we scattered Justin's ashes. I go there every so often to visit him. Not as much as I should. I sat there, wrapped in a beach towel and staring into the sea, until the wind dried all of my tears and my feet were numb.
Days later, this is still bothering me. I feel so alone. How could they have all forgotten so soon?