The Hardest Post to Date
A letter to someone so special to me, Trevor Cadigan, who recently and tragically died in a helicopter crash in NYC on 3/11/18.
I can’t believe you are gone.
I just woke from my first hour of sleep since finding out about you about fourteen hours ago. The hardest and most tearful ones to date. I didn’t know I could cry so much. I am so heartbroken by your death… and I can’t begin to imagine how your parents, Nancy and Jerry, grandma (who you were so close to), and sister Kathleen are feeling.
When I first met you last spring in St. Louis for your sister’s wedding, I noticed you always had this little yellow plastic bracelet on your arm. When asked what it was, you told me it was to remember the loss of one of your best friends, who had died a few years earlier. It had, “RIP” and his name engraved in it. You never took that thing off. Not when you showered, or slept, and not even when I told you it looked silly with a suit. You didn’t care. That is what kind of person you were and I can bet you still had the bracelet on Sunday night. You sometimes spoke to me about the loss of your best friend and how much he changed your life. How important to you remembering him was, and how you now live your life to the fullest, with his remembrance in mind. That is how I will remember you, too.
Late last fall, you launched your new website as a young journalist living the dream in NYC. As your first post and maybe to deal with the confusion of our recent breakup, you wrote posts about meeting me, and our first weekend together. I was furious when I saw it. I thought it was an invasion of privacy and thought, “how dare you?” You stopped writing them immediately when I asked. I later learned from you that you wanted to detail how unsure you were about me in the beginning, but how much that changed as time went on. I wish you had finished the stories, but I know you can’t now. I am going to finish them for you, from my perspective, picking up where you left off, because the moments I spent with you were some of the happiest to date. You will be so incredibly missed and already are, Trevor.
The day I met you, I did not know what to expect. I had just wrapped up spring classes and was silently recovering from a recent family tragedy. When I met you, I was pleasantly surprised. You were tall, happy, and had the most gorgeous smile. (I later learned this was just a fact after braces and two rounds of Invisalign, you called yourself, “a big teeth guy.”) You seemed shy when I met you, and we sat outside a coffee shop in my favorite St. Louis neighborhood on a sunny day in May as the sun set. We just watched people pass by and made small talk, both just trying to figure each other out. You seemed too good to be true, and I wanted to know more. The catch of course was that you were just in town for a few days from Dallas for your sister’s wedding. Knowing this, I think we both decided to take a risk assuming we may never see each other again. After our walk that day, I just remember thinking “Thank God, thank God.” Before you, I hadn’t seriously dated anyone in years. I went out on lots of dates, but none of them ever felt right. After meeting you, I was so excited, thinking, maybe there is hope here. I remember being coy and confessing that to you.
We went all in after that walk and spent every moment of time you had together beyond mandatory wedding things. We had multiple dinners, we talked about the status of the world, took pictures, laughed over and over, and kissed, a lot. The few days were so fast and I think we both had the same feeling at the end of it like, where did this person come from? You ended up staying at my house until way too late on the last day you were in town, ignoring the daunting burden of driving twelve hours back to Dallas, and instead letting me convince you to stay just one more minute. We both just kept laughing and kissing and probably thinking this may be the last time ever seeing each other. When you finally left, you texted me just as I drove away to say how great this had been. I agreed and was full of joy. I gave you granola bars for the road and we talked on the phone about anything and everything for hours until you finally agreed to crash at a hotel halfway between. That call was just a little taste of what became months of calls, Facetimes, pictures, and constantly saying “I miss you.” We were silly with each other, and I think both a little too scared to admit our feelings in the beginning.
Within weeks you drove back to St. Louis. We went to every vegan spot here and had the same fun as before just being together and laughing. I think we both felt the same thing about each other and it turned into a summer of adventure, romance, happiness, excitement, and sometimes annoyances, trying to learn each other’s personality. After St. Louis, you visited many more times before we found ourselves in South Padre Island, Miami Beach, New York City, and even me visiting you in Dallas (arguably the best trips out of them all, which I could spend an entire post about). After a winter/spring of family tragedy for me before meeting you, I don’t think you ever realized what a relief and blessing you were to me. You brought so much joy into my life and although I never got to tell you, I fell in love with you that summer.
My selfishness got the best of us by the late fall and we agreed neither of us wanted to seriously date anyone right now. I think you just agreed with me because I was awful and started seeing other people, pushing you away because of the fear I felt of us being more-- the risk of the unknown. The more I pulled away the more you pushed back. We remained friends for a while until visiting you in NYC to see your new place ended sadly. You realized I was seriously seeing someone else (probably hurt by the fact I said I didn’t want to date anyone) and did want to just be friends with you. And I realized how much I was hurting you, not knowing why in the world I even came. I shut down instead of talking to you, and then left you standing in the doorway of your new apartment in the Financial District you were so excited to show me. I know it broke your heart a little, and you were so confused. That was the last time I saw you.
After not speaking for a while, I reached out to you recently to be friends again. I felt compelled to apologize and missed you so much. Did I ever apologize to you for my bad behavior? If not, I am so sorry for being careless in our relationship. We did more than date and spend time together, you became one of my closest friends. You met my grandma and even spoke to her weekly about how things were going, and sent business articles to my dad. They were excited to meet you. You helped me in so many ways. You were my light for all those months and I will always cherish our time together. You were supposed to come back to St. Louis next month, for your sister’s graduation from law school. You were also supposed to someday attend Stanford or Harvard Business School, after getting a nearly perfect GMAT score and graduating with a 4.0 from college. You were one of the only people I know fluent in Mandarin, even studying and working in China at one point. You wanted to work in international business and finance, and you were just beginning your dream.
I remember the day you called to tell me about your new job in New York. Since it was my dream too to move there, I previously joked with you that I would only date someone in NYC, and you had to move there first. Although the move was never for me, it made me think about our future. You took a huge leap moving and it was a big change for you for a while. But you were tenacious and hardworking, excelling there and often calling me past midnight still working, clocked out, just so you could “get a leg up on things.” That was you. A few weeks ago, you finished your internship there, and you told me that big things were coming you weren’t ready to share yet. You also said that before you announced your huge NYC internship and move. I will forever wonder what wonderful thing you were going to start next.
We were just starting to get close again, talking only briefly daily over text, (a big change for us) but it was something I will now be forever grateful for. For some reason on Sunday night, I couldn’t sleep. I was up until 5:00 AM just thinking. I thought of you a lot, and ended up sending you at least ten pictures of us and writing, “I don’t care if you think I’m crazy sending all of these!” When I woke up the next day, you hadn’t replied. I figured you thought I was a real creep at this point and didn’t think anything else of it. I thought you were just ignoring me.
I learned about your death when I woke up from a deep sleep and just happened to check my phone and read the message that will now forever be burned into my brain. I read the articles about you and remember watching the video you posted in the helicopter the night before, looking so joyous. You were wearing the soft, striped light blue Lululemon jacket that I had only recently returned back to you, and loved so.
The moments before your death, you were doing exactly what you loved, enjoying life and being adventurous with one of your best friends. You loved to travel, always up for anything, which is why you moved to NYC, and I think partly honoring the loss of your own best friend’s death by really living each day out. I am in shock out of the handful of people I know in a city of millions, that this was you and your friend, Brian. I am so shocked and this still seems like it can’t be real. But your face and the other four innocent people are all over the news, bringing a chilling, sickening, agonizing reality to me. I am trying to come up with any lesson from this horrific loss, and I can’t.
I guess I am looking to you for that advice now, and thinking of your yellow bracelet. The death of your friend still affected you years later. Although you said you were not perfect in the beginning, that his death caused you to push forward even harder with your goals, and take every chance at living life you could. That was you. I am so proud of you in all you accomplished and how many people’s worlds you lit up in just twenty-six years. Just like I can’t begin to imagine how your family and other friends are feeling, no one knows how this feels to me. I think only we will ever know, and hopefully you’d agree, that some of our moments together were some of the happiest of my life. I am filled up with sadness as I sit in my tiny St. Louis apartment typing this, thinking about the numerous times you visited me in it. I am looking at the bookshelves and table, which you flew down just to help me set up one weekend.
I will never forget our time together or your life. You will be forever missed by so many people, and this is an awful loss I am not sure I will ever come out the shock of. I am thinking deeply about your family and how much they loved you. This is an incredible, horrific loss to them, and they will also be forever in my thoughts.
I am sorry I never got to tell you I love you. I will regret that forever. But I know we both felt the same way and although weren’t dating anymore and not nearly as close, valued each other and our time so much. I don’t know what randomly brought us together as you were passing through cities last May, but I am forever grateful I went on that walk with you. I am forever grateful we took a chance on each other even if only briefly. You were such an incredible guy who will not be forgotten.
With all my love,
Ps. I wrote this with shaky hands, so I am sorry if there are errors in it. I know as a journalist, you hated that.