It wasn't a special day, the day that she died. Not a day that people remember, like June 18, 1812, or September 11th, 2001. It was just an even day in the chill heart of autumn. I didn't know Hanne Ailton very well, in fact I didn't know her at all except for word of mouth. And only by word of mouth because she seemed to always be sick with the latest disease. Gossip had always gone around, for as long as I can remember, that her family name was jinxed. But I never paid much attention to this for I was never very superstitious.
I heard about her death almost the same hour that she died from my mother who had learned about it from her aunt's cousin's niece's best friend, showing three things: a) Just how fast news could spread through word of mouth, b) how fast it could spread through the mouths of gossipy woman, and c) just how gossipy the female sex could be.
News of her death was not surprising to me. I was more surprised, I guess in a morbid way, that she had not died sooner. Although, a small part of me was sorry, for she had been my age at the time. The other part of me was terrified that I would catch the same disease she had and would die young, too, before I'd had a chance to do anything with my life.
However I suppose it was the manner of her death that shocked me most. Anyone would think that a girl of her reputation would have finally succumbed to some particularly beastly flu virus, or to pneumonia, or whatnot. But when my mother brought it up at the dinner table that night, I learned that Hanne Ailton had been strangled by a rubber band, and gossip was spreading that foul play had been played by some unknown "lover." But why anyone would want to, at the safety of their own healthy, be in a relationship with her? It made the rumor sound completely ridiculous to me. How does one get strangled by a rubber band? I never heard, but I figured it must have been a very large rubber band and triple wrapped.
I'm not sure why I went to her funeral. Perhaps it was because I felt sorry for her-being a girl my age who now was bereft of the opportunities in life that I still before me possessed. Or maybe it was because such a person as she, being ultimately killed by the restriction of a rubber-band, was so embarrassing and ironic that by being part of the gossip of it I owed it to her to attend the ceremony of her passing. I had never spoken to her, nor ever even seen her. I knew nothing about her besides that she was often sick. So why did I attend the depressing and teary gathering of mostly ancient people, none of whom I know, of a young lady whose only accomplishments it seemed had been to barely survive violent sicknesses of all types? I couldn't answer that, and as of yet I still can't.
That evening when I returned home, I inexplicably found myself writing her a letter. I can't recall how long the letter was, or even what it was about, but I remember very clearly hand writing the letter with great care, so as to not make any mistakes. And I remember feeling as though I was writing to a close friend. A dead close friend, but a friend nevertheless. You know how sometimes you see someone, on the bus or on the street, and you know nothing about them, only what you see physically, but you look into their eyes, and you see their body language and you feel like you've known each other for years and are great friends, or at the least would be great friends if given the chance? That was how it felt with Hanne Ailton.
And even now, in a strange way, I miss her. Almost miss her to the point of heartache, the sort of heartache that doesn't go away for weeks, that keeps you up at night with teary eyes, and that leaves you staring into space while in classes at school. I don't know where this missing comes from, for how can you miss someone without ever having known them? I guess, logically speaking, I miss what she represented. Strength. Courage. Patience. And I regret never having been able to meet her, and it breaks my heart that, at least in this life, I will never meet her.
There is no second chances in death. And that hurts.