I wish that people could just see into my memories, inside my head, so that I didn’t have to verbalize anything and everyone could just understand.

Where should I start… high school when we did the swing club together, and he dropped me on my knee and we couldn’t dance at the fair? Way before that, when we were friends once he moved to our elementary school?

Picking me up from the airport multiple times- it became a theme. From meeting me in Spain, to the late night frantic flight from Atlanta to Raleigh after the St John trip, to completely surprising me after my business trip in California with a full dinner of leftovers from his “culinary experiment” with his family earlier that night.

Gamely going with me to various sorority functions at UNC, even though he tried his hardest to prove his NC State allegiance. He rode a mechanical bull with me, and I proved that I could stay on longer than he could. We made a great Pocahontas and John Smith couple for a “Famous Duos” party, since I tanned so easily- and he definitely did not. Coming to my graduation, carrying home leftovers from dinner, and then making sure I was able to take pictures for him at his graduation with his chords that he wasn’t sure what they even meant.

I have so many memories, snapshots of him and videos in my mind that I cannot even put into words. Things that I dream about, sometimes in pieces, but always about him. What can I string together in words that make sense?

The way Rhett had a bounce in his walk after he let me in the door to his apartment in Charlotte, excited about the meal he had planned out during the week. Food cooking in his red Le Creuset dutch oven, a chicken saffron dish with decadent treats like baked avocado, full of garlic and smoked paprika. Accompanied by a Trader Joes red wine, or course. The lucky night when we had the wine that he saved from his brother’s recommendation. French onion soup, when he was trying to decide if he should go with the wine based version or the Guinness based version, and second-guessed the entire time even though it was amazing.

About the time we went to his family’s mountain cabin and the heat didn’t immediately work. I huddled near the heater and he said I looked like his parent’s dog Auggie, searching for the heat. It took forever to get warm! He was on the phone with his parents/brothers/anyone to figure out how exactly to get the heat on. Took hours, but he redeemed himself by watching half of Les Miz with me.I didn’t want to force him to watch the whole thing, especially when I was singing along.

The way he was about cars. He loved the Mountaineer, but thought that it wasted too much gas. Was pumped that he could drive the CRV, as it saved so much money and had a good audio hookup that he could plug into his iPod or iPhone. Always looking out for the elusive old Mercedes to report back to his brothers.

Music- he didn’t like concerts, but insisted on going to the “Tallest Man on Earth” concert that was midway between us in NC. He made sure I downloaded (through a torrent- do you think he wanted me to pay for it?) the music of this guy, who was so totally small. But a great artist- download “King of Spain,” you won’t regret it. When I drove (often, so that he didn’t spend any gas) he would make sure to include a favorite song of mine before he introduced me to some new thing Jack White was trying. 

Booking a spontaneous NYC trip for my birthday, for after I got back from my Dublin experiment. We both were/are not spontaneous; I know my mom was shocked when I told her that I booked it. We had a “Wunderlist” (it’s an app) about things that we were going to do on our few days there. I got a reminder about the upcoming trip once I was home, and it just seemed to be mocking me.

When I was going to Dublin in 2013, he deemed it a great adventure and he downloaded a series of Frank McCourt giving a tour of various pubs in Dublin. He also made sure that I had plenty to read on my iPad (torrents again, but intelligent stuff like a Ken Follett series), which I got in February for an “early birthday present” (thanks Mom and Dad) so that I could be businessy on my trip. It was so handy to face-time, which we did daily. When I saw him last St Patrick’s Day, he didn’t want me to cry (and I was a basket case) because “it was only going to be a month” until we were together again.This was a great opportunity for me, and would put me in Europe and closer to Rhett when he went to Copenhagen for a year of his program. We already planned trips for that year- he was always making lists and researching best times to go to certain places. 

It was actually two weeks until I was home again, and why I am writing this post and still in such disbelief that someone so loved could be physically gone from my world.

Getting home was a blur, and I try not to think too much about that day- exactly a year ago. I had to fly across the ocean on a spur of the moment flight. I didn’t know what was going on. Being in the air without internet for almost 9 hours was torture- and then I had to find out, alone, in the Atlanta airport, that the person I thought I would marry and spend the rest of my life with was not alive anymore. 

It’s been a year today. How have we moved along in the world? I don’t say moved on, because I don’t think I will. I am saying moved along, because he is with me and part of my story as I keep putting one foot in front of the other. I’m a cook, I’m a world traveler, I’m living my life a little bit for him- because if things were reversed, I wouldn’t want him to be stuck in the quicksand that was so tempting to me a few months ago.

I want to touch the scar on his arm that he loved to say he got from a “shark bite,” I want to ask him what he thinks about the Winter Olympics, about the world issues, about March Madness, about my new apartment. Life isn’t fair, and when people say that “things happen for a reason” I know that they haven’t been through something this devastating to their soul. No matter what you believe in, to imagine something like this was “on purpose” is too cruel.

I’m thankful for my family,his family and all of our/my friends that made sure I knew I was loved. I love and miss him every day, and I try to live a life that he would think is fun, adventurous, and delicious. I’m a better person for knowing him. 


3 responses to “Rhett

  1. Dear Sara, I remember clearly when I heard what happened and to be honest – I still can’t find the right words to say what I have in mind.

    To read this lines really brings tears to my eyes as I can feel the pain and how much you miss him.

    I never had a loss like this – so I don’t want to share all those “wise words”. But keep the memories and keep a place in your heart for him. Then Rhett will be with you forever.

    And never forget: If you need someone – to talk, to listen to you or whatever you need – our doors are open for you. Always….

  2. Dear Sara,

    It’s not fair that a life was taken so early. It’s not fair that you and others are left reeling in sorrow. Life’s not fair, and cruel sometimes, but you are not alone in that place. Keep moving along with your sweet memories. It’s what Rhett would want. Make something positive out of tragedy and always know that God holds Both of you close!!

  3. Dear Sara,
    You are right – it is Not fair – we will never understand the why of it while we are here (on earth), and sometimes that is worse!! Your story of memories is beautiful and he would be proud of you for going out in the world as you have! I am happy to read that you realize just how much you are loved by so many friends and family. You are such a strong and very brave young woman. I cannot even imagine what you have (and still are) going through, but know this sweet child the Nickle clan is Always here for you! Always. <3!!

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