When the unthinkable happens, how do you deal?
This is a true story of Selena, 16, who opens up about her love and loss .
On March 3, I dropped by the school gym to wish my boyfriend, Wes, good luck – it was the last basketball game in his undefeated season. “I love you,” he said as we hugged. “I love you, too,” I said, giving him a kiss. It would be the last time we’d say those words.
When I first met Wes at a party at the end of eighth grade, we instantly bonded over sports – he played football and basketball; I played softball – and we kept in touch all summer. The day after school started in the fall, Wes and I were walking in the hallway when he blurted out, “I was wondering if you’d be my girlfriend.” He was so shy, he couldn’t even look at me! And I was so happy that it took me a full minute to say yes.
Wes and I were more than a couple – we were best friends. We would talk about our future, but we knew it was likely we’d end up at different colleges, so we were just enjoying every minute together.
The night of the big game, Wes was on fire, scoring point after point until we were tied in overtime. Then with just seconds left on the clock, Wes shot – and scored! We won! The whole school rushed the court to celebrate. I was just a few feet away when our eyes met and he smiled at me. I was so proud! Then suddenly Wes’s feet slid out from under him and he collapsed onto his back. I froze. Something has very wrong. “He’s dehydrated,” someone said, as the coaches pushed through the crowds to cover him with ice packs. I saw his dad standing over him yelling, “Breathe, Wes, breathe!” He’s not breathing?!? I thought. I fell to my knees and started screaming his name. I felt numb with panic as they carried Wes in a stretcher to an ambulance. I raced behind it to the hospital.
The waiting room in the hospital was packed and quiet except for the sound of hushed crying. After an hour and 15 minutes, a pastor came in and told us that the doctors had done everything they could – Wes was dead. I started crying so hard, my whole body hurt. I felt like I was going to throw up. I wanted to get away from everybody, out of that room, but I knew I had to say goodbye.
When I saw Wes, he was so pale that I could see his veins. His eyes were open slightly, and I kept staring at them, as if at any minute they might open all the way and everything would be okay. I held his hand and said, “I love you.” But I wanted to say so much more. I could write a novel about everything he meant to me: the small compliments he gave me every single day, the way he always noticed when I changed my hair, the way he looked at me in a crowd like we were sharing a secret. How was I supposed to get through this, I wondered, when Wes was the person who helped me through everything?
Later the doctors told us that Wes went into cardiac arrest because of an enlarged heart, a rare condition with no real warning signs. It’s only been a few weeks since he passed, and everything still reminds me of him – our song on the radio, the restaurant we went to for our anniversary, the turtle necklace he brought me from Hawaii. But all I can do is be grateful for the time we had. I realize that if you love someone, you should just try to be happy with them all the time. Make good memories instead of the bad ones – because no matter what happens, those are the ones you’ll want to look back on.