She's been looking at me for a while, her hand protectively holding her cheeky boy. I can almost see her as a child, with the same defiant expression looking equally cheeky. Tears start to well up again and my throat is tightening. She says nothing, her steady gaze and smile get me every time I look up.
Today, she has been gone exactly a year.
Her picture sits at my work desk more than a year and a half after she sent it to me. At first, it was an absent-minded accident that the picture ended up at my work desk. I had brought the picture to work so I could scan it when my home scanner was on the fritz. I left it propped against my monitor to motivate me through the last days of training; to remind me why I was doing something so foreign to me. All these months later, it's still there even though I need no reminder of the friend I lost too soon.
I could write volumes about her, and yet cannot say anything that doesn't sound ordinary in comparison to the real thing. It's hard to focus on eloquence when one's heart is this heavy and eyes are so blurry. But I don't need to write volumes about her now. If you knew her, you already know. And if you didn't, I don't want to make you sad that you missed out on something so amazing.