I Remember Gil

It's been seven months since I last saw the light in Gil's room. Mrs. Blithe wabed at me from his bedroom window next door. I waved back, but inside I was numb.

I will never forget the first day I met Gil and his mom. I was seven, and Mom and Dad were taking me to our new house in teh suburbs. My mother's employer transferred her, so we'd had to move and leave everything behind.

I missed my room and my best friends back home. I could not believe how my parents were torturing me. The idea of going to a new school was frightening. I didn't have any friends to talk to, and I did not want to make any new friends either.

My grandparents were at the new two-story house to welcome us, and I noticed a lady hugging my mother. It turned out that Mrs. Blithe was Mom's best friend from high school and new next-door neighbor.

Mom took me to my room upstaris, and I let myself fall onto the bed. I must have fallen asleep because the next thing I knew, it was getting dark. The huge window in my room was open, and I could hear loud music coming from outside. I looked out the window, and across from me was another window. A boy in dark clothes was looking though his telescope and into the glittering night sky. Right away, I noticed the white Christmas lights on his ceiling.

"Hi, I'm Gilbert Jim Jonathan Blithe. Call me Gil." He startled me.

"I'm Katharine Kennedy - Katie for short," I screamed back.

I t was our beautiful beginning. I realized then and there that I liked this weird neighbor of mine. Gil was like a brother to me. We spent countless hours just talking and telling stories to each other. My dad put a fire escape ladder on my window. After that, Gil used it as an entrance to my room. Funny, he never used the front door. And he had lights on his ceiling because the stars and planets fascinated him.

When school started, we biked there together. He kept me safe and held me back from hurting myself. Sometimes I had to keep him out of trouble. Afterwards, we woudl go to the park and play on the monkey bars. Most of the time my family's backyard was our playground, and the big acacia tree, which had boards nailed to its trunk, held our tree house. I twas home, and nobody was allowed in there except us.

Summers passed and I turned thirteen. Gil gave me April blossoms. Then Mrs. Blithe told Mom and me that Gil was sick and needed a heart transplant. When I heard that, I was so distressed, I felt I needed one, too.

The hospital was gloomy. A white-walled prison that had disgusting food. Every day, Gil had to eat mushy-looking meals. I promised him I'd bring chololate-covered peanuts the next day, and I knew I made him happier.

Whenever Gil sensed I was anxious or about to cry, he would tell me to look out my bedroom window. "Let the light from my room tell you I'm always there," he said softly. He always found a way to make me smile.

After a month in the hospital, Gil came home. It was the first time I had ever been in his room, and it felt peculiar. It was unexpectedly neat. After jumping onto his bed and throwing me a pillow, he said he missed his room. I said I missed him more. It troubled me that things might never be the same, but Gil was up and about after a couple of weeks. I knew he was all right when he climbed up to my room and ate pizza with me. Before we knew it, Gil and I were in high school. School and girls kept him occupied, but he was always there. Despite our jobs, we spent sunny summers together. As usual, the days hanging out with him passed quickly. But then he got sick again.

During the first semister of our senior year, Gil was taken to the hospital for the second time. At first I thought it was a false alarm, but it was worse than I could imagine. All I could do was hope and pray that he would get better. The unlit room across from mine was the constant reminder of his being away. I visited him in the hospital as often as I could, even though I never knew what to say. To tell him that everything would be all right was a fallacy, yet it comforted it both.

Christmas was spent in a cold hospital room. He was determined that we would go to our graduation together. I assured him we would. I held his hand and looked into his eyes until they stopped looking into mine. No words were uttered; we both knew what we were feeling. He looked peaceful when he said his last good-bye.

I locked his face at that moment in my thoughts, but it wounded my soul. He went away even though I tried my best to keep him from slipping.

How could a friend, someone who was with me and kept me happy, be the one person who would leave me now, forever? There was no one now to console me.

Now, as I stood looking at his bedroom window and the stars and planets on his ceiling, I knew he would always be there - in my room, in my heart and in my memories. I wiped the tears on my cheek, and I saw a little boy waving at me. Until this day, I cannot figure why I could not say "I love you" to Gil, even at the last second. Maybe because I knew he felt the same way.

I'm leaving for college soon, and I am sad he won't be there to laugh at my jokes or comfort me when I'm blue. But because of a little boy looking though a telescope into the infinite night sky, I now know that friendship goes beyond time. I will always remember Gilbert, and the light of his love tells me he's always there.

- April Joy Gazmen