When I left work Friday evening I was greeted by the smell of smoke in the air. I took in several smells and didn’t want to stop smelling the smell—while that may sound weird—the smell is something that brings me back to the time I call the Infinite Summer. It takes me back to the summers of 1994-1995 and those years really. The bonfires just weren’t during the summer, but that’s when the most of it really sticks out from the rest. One of those summers were the summers I met the first real best friend I had, and it was not long after that I lost him. Weldon and I met through my cousin one summer bonfire night. David suggested that he teach me how to ride his four wheeler which was a standard. It was that night that a friendship began. I remember at the time being so incredibly shy but soon that friendship became something I know can never be replaced and something I can never replace.
He was twenty one or twenty two when we met and I was maybe fifteen or sixteen. He was seven years older than me, and this didn’t matter. I was allowed to hang out with him, and on Friday nights we’d often spend hours with each other in his 1972 Dodge Ram truck listening to music and just hanging out. I had no curfew, and it didn’t matter so long as I was with Weldon. My parents trusted him and knew I was with him. He never once tried to do anything with me other than hug me, which those hugs I miss more than anything. There were times he’d head straight over from working at a place called Hushpuppy and smelled of seafood and grease, but that never bothered me. He’d come straight over to see me and hang out. Those days were the best days. Those were the last of my happy days for several years, and before depression ruined my life.
In 1996 my parents announced their split, and the bonfires were no more. 1998 Weldon succumbed to cancer at the age of twenty six. This devastated me and my life was turned upside down. I begged for death, wanted death because I didn’t know how to live without the only best friend I had in my life I also begged for love, someone to come into my life and save me. That’s when the love of my life came into my life. November 28, 1998. While he only got me through days, it wasn’t for awhile that I really began to find my happiness once more and leave behind those darkest days.
Getting to the smell of smoke and why I’m really writing this heartfelt entry. It might sound weird and it might sound a little crazy, but I like to think when I smell the smell of smoke it’s Weldon’s way of saying hello. I can never find its source and sometimes it follows me, which it did long after I left from work. I stopped at Walmart and on the way out the smell once more greeted me and much like earlier I took it in and its scent. I thought for a moment before getting into the car to head home how often this brings me back. There have been times where I’ve been visited by him in my dreams, and it happened quite recently. Those dreams used to bother me a lot after his death, but now I welcome them as this is the only way I’ll ever see him and of course that Polaroid I have of him. There have been times where I’ll type a word on my phone sometimes that starts with a W— it seems to happen with the welcome—and the word will change to Weldon. It could be just a clever auto-correct but who really knows. It doesn’t happen often enough to be considered a clever aut0-correct. I really think that along side the smell of smoke, the dreams I have of him the auto-correct is his way of saying hello to me. Just in those small subtle ways. It always for a moment in time brings me back to those good times we had, the friendship we shared, and the times we spent with each other.
This journal entry brought tears to my eyes, and for a bit I did have to stop writing but I wanted to share this moment. I wanted to record it and write what it means to me and maybe hear what others think. It could be just someone burning a fire and that my mind automatically associates a memory to this smell but I beg to differ. This brings me to one more circumstance, that makes me feel as if all this time Weldon has been saying hello, telling me it would be okay. I used to sit outside for hours and cry and talk to the stars because he was a star somewhere up there listening. When it became too much I saw a shooting star shoot across the sky and in that very moment I felt better—for that moment in time I felt better. I didn’t cry anymore, in fact I smiled and the pain washed away. There were times when I had bouts of depression and talked to the stars and asked for my shooting star, and the shooting star would sometimes come. There was a time when the clouds covered the stars, and above a single firefly went over my roof when I walked out. A firefly just as much as shooting star was there when I said I needed my shooting star. These aren’t just coincidences that I have in my life, they’re the best friend from the Heaven’s above finding ways to say hello to me and ways to comfort me. Weldon has always been in my heart and my memories and he knows how dear he is to me, and all these little things are his ways of communications to let me know he’s still here with me even if it is not of the physical realm but of the spiritual.