All of that happened over fifteen years ago.
The doctors aren't sure why her body suddenly gave out, but it happens often in young children who are very sick. Whatever the reason, perhaps it's better that she did. She was spared a hard life of suffering.
Today is June 7, 2025. It would also have been Arista's twenty-first birthday, the day she would legally have been aloud to drink. Of course she wouldn't have turned out like me. She was much to good for that, and she had Sarah's strong, anti-alcohol spirit.
After the day she died, I can honestly say that I never had a drink again. Sarah divorced me and went back to Texas, where she became an English Professor and never remarried. It took four of five years, but eventually I met another woman, Pam, and fell in love with her. She was my grief counseler after Arista passed away. We're married now, and we have twin three-year-old boys.
In an hour or so all four of us are going to visit Arista's grave. I planted a rosebush there, and it blooms white roses every spring. Every year around her birthday, they are the most beautiful.
It took almost fifteen years and a lot of therapy, but I've finally come to terms with what happened. Now I can tell my boys all about Arista, and teach them the dangers of drinking. They'll grow up knowing exactly what alcohol can do, and I hope that will keep them from turning out the way I did.
Life is like a rose
It sprouts before it grows
When it's petals unfurl against the sun
Everyone notices, and marvels at its young beauty
But eventually, the blossom begins to wilt
Because no rose can bloom forever
And soon it returns to earth
Only to sprout again