By Chef niciunsomn
My son Noah became friends with Alex when he moved into the house next to ours last year. Alex moved with his family from California and when we went over to introduce ourselves, the two became instant friends. While my husband Ryan and I chatted with Alex’s parents, him and Noah played together and found out they actually had quite a bit in common.
Noah was four at the time and Alex was two years older, making him six. Eventually, the two became inseparable. After school, Alex would come over and they would watch Pokémon, play video games on the XBOX, or just run around outside and do whatever it is that kids do. Some weekends Noah would go over and stay at Alex’s and some weekends Alex would stay with us. A lot of times, Ryan and I would go out with Heather and Kevin and we’d take the boys with us. The two of them were pretty much together every single day. Since they were both only children, it was nice that they’d found best friends, someone they could connect with.
In July, Ryan and I decided to take the boys to the boys to Holiday World in Santa Claus, IN. We lived in Huntingburg so it was only about half an hour to get there. We decided we would leave at 10 AM so that we could be there right after they opened.
The day before our trip, Alex was over at our house playing Donkey Kong with Noah on Ryan’s old SNES. Heather was coming to pick Alex up at 6 so they could go to the mall and get some new swim trunks for Holiday World.
I was in the kitchen washing dishes when Alex came up to me. “‘Livia, can I have some kool-aid please?”
“Sure thing, bud. Your mom will be here soon,” I smiled at him. I’d grown quite fond of this little boy as well, grateful that he made my son so happy. I dried my hands off and retrieved a cup from the cabinet. Just as I poured his drink, Heather honked from outside. He grabbed the cup, gulped down the kool-aid and ran out after thanking me.
“Bye, Alex!” I yelled after him, watching from the kitchen window as him and his mom drive off.
That next morning, I was up at 6 as I usually am, brewing a pot of coffee and scrolling through Facebook. A sleepy Noah comes walking down the hallway from his room, rubbing his eyes and yawning.
I smiled at my beautiful son and pulled him into my lap. I brushed his dirty blonde hair from his eyes, “Are you ready to go ride rides today?” I was pretty excited myself. It’d been a couple of years since I’d been to an amusement park.
“I don’t think we can go, mommy,” he said, his baby blues looking into my own.
I frowned at him, “Why do you sat that, Noah?”
He looked down at his hands, picking at his fingernails. “Last night when I was sleepin’, Alex told me we couldn’t play anymore.”
I assumed he was talking about a dream. “Baby, you were just dreaming.”
Noah shook his head, “No, mommy, he was hurt real bad. He told me the next time I saw him, he’d be in a box.”
I stared at my son for a really long time until he got up and went back to his room. I didn’t really know what to think; he seemed so serious, but I suppose the dream had just kind of wigged him out. But to be safe and to hopefully rid myself of this awful feeling in my stomach, I picked up the phone to call Heather. She answered, bawling her eyes out and I could barely understand her between sobs.
Alex had been hit by a car when they were leaving the mall late last night. Heather said he ran out into the parking lot without looking both ways and this car was going just a little too fast. Alex died.
As soon as she told me what happened, I wanted to hang up. I wanted to sit and process the fact that my son’s best friend was dead and that he somehow already knew. Instead, I stayed on the line long enough to try to comfort her and when she broke down again, I hurried off the phone.
I hung up and just sat, trying to understand what I had just heard. When Ryan finally woke up, I told him what happened, omitting the part about Noah. I don’t know why, but it didn’t feel right to tell him.
The services were held a few days later, surprisingly an open casket. The funeral home did a good job of fixing the damage that had been done. Even though I was against Noah going, Ryan thought it would be a good thing instead of trying to shelter him.
As we stood there in front of the casket, Noah just stared. I don’t know if it didn’t faze him or if he didn’t understand it, but he just…stared at Alex. I rubbed his little hand with my thumb, trying to hold back tears when he looked up at me and said, “This is the box, mommy.”
That was about eight months ago. Since then, we’ve packed up and moved to a small town in Western Kentucky. Noah has made new friends, but none like Alex.
You’re probably wondering why I’m here now, since all of this happened so long ago. Well, it’s because something else happened yesterday.
I was on the living room computer writing a paper; I’ve decided to go back to school for social work. Noah was sitting on the couch watching Adventure Time.
“Mommy.” I turned to look at him.
“I saw Alex today.” Chills literally ran down my spine, every hair on my arms standing up. I tried to rationalize, telling myself this was just his way of coping. Even though it’d been a while since the funeral, Noah would still bring him up sometimes, saying he missed him or wished he was here. But this was the first he’d mentioned seeing him.
I tried to think of what to say. What do you say when your five year old tells you he saw his dead best friend? I only knew one thing I could ask him.
“The next time you see Alex, will you ask him what the last thing I did for him was?”
Noah turned his head to the recliner beside my desk, “What was the last thing mommy did for you?” He sat for a couple of seconds before turning back to me.
“Made him a glass of kool-aid.”