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Grade
11

I’m a survivor
He is not
He is survived by me
I can’t be responsible for carrying on his legacy
I have my own legacy to build
If only I knew how

“Crashed into a cornfield while performing low altitude stunts for recertification”
He just had to keep flying
Rushed to the nearest hospital
He got a memorial
And I got a phone call

That’s not all I got
I got a stuffed bear from my class
I got food from do-gooders
I got a book about coping with death
mom made me read it
I got his old letterman jacket (we’re the same size)
I got his vhs tapes
I got pity

“Iraq war hero dies in plane crash”
Was he busy being a hero the day I was born?
It’s not his fault
But who else can I blame
At least he can’t defend himself

“He loved his daughter”
“A devoted family man”
Where was his devotion on weekdays?
Where was his devotion when he had to fly during my basketball game?
 

He had such a passion for flying
Got his pilot’s license while he was still in high school
I’m in high school                                                               and I will never fly
Not when I know how it consumes you

“He loved when you would sing”
I love to sing
The way he loved to fly
Only one gets you killed
the other gets you compliments

I spent eight years with him and eight without
Soon the number of years he has been gone will outnumber the years I knew him
Can I even count the eight if he was only half there?
Deployed, flying, deployed, flying
I spent eight half-years with him

“I know you don’t like to talk about him”
What is there to talk about?                                                He’s gone
He’s a ghost
All my memories have been recycled and force-fed to me at every opportunity
 

“Do you remember how he used to…”
No
But you reminded me
so yes
I remember the stories about what I should remember

"You look just like him"
Same hair, same eyes, same build
Not the same person
I am not his survivor
That is not my job

State
WV