For Esme Bee
In the early morning hours of the first day of the year, Esme was killed. It’s so hard to imagine seeing this tiny beautiful woman for the first time and wanting to do anything other than hug her forever. If I try to fit the way it happened into my brain, it just stutters and stops, refusing to move forward.
I found out when I was at work, standing in the server station with a diet coke refill in my hand feeling like the world had simply stopped revolving. There are a million things I could say, as evidenced by Esme’s facebook wall, which is piled high with the saddest, least cynical, and more heartfelt expressions of affection I’ve ever seen online. Esme was the type of girl who reduced the most jaded and sarcastic of bearded boys and skinny jeans girls to giant smiles and rump shaking. Actually, “type of girl” doesn’t do it justice. She wasn’t part of a type. There was no one like her, before or after, and there never will be again.
The one thing that I’ve been able to take solace in within all this sadness and anger is that Esme was loved in her 29 years much more than most people are in their long lives. She managed to pack so many shows and friends and cute boys and records and good deeds and passions and softball games and dance parties into her days. Esme worked at a school, and a record store, and she helped teach girls how to be rock and rollers like she was, at Girls Rock Camp Austin. She was an amazing example to every kid she knew — optimistic and positive and loving and stoked. Oh man, she was stoked. Everyone is bound to exaggerate the virtues of the dead but in Esme’s case it is literally impossible to do so. She never bummed me out. She never made me mad. She never said cruel things. She was so ludicrously fun and happy and bright and she wanted to be and was the friend of everyone she crossed paths with. Looking back, it’s easy to see her in that light of “too good for this world,” but that’s not quite it. She was good for this world. She made it seem like it was a cooler place. She made songs sound better and nights out feel like adventures. She was the true embodiment of living each day like it’s your last, and she was an inspiration to me when she was alive and will be an inspiration to me for the rest of my life.
I’ve never met anyone who was so alive inside the songs she loved as Esme. I’ve been making a mix tape for her, for us, one that I won’t be posting here but that I will bring my friends copies of, stamped with a sweet note written in sharpie, the way she would have done it. But it’s amazing to me, while listening to songs, how many of them sound like her to me. Songs I know she loved because we talked about them or she posted them to her blog or put them on mixes. Songs I know she loved because I just do. Songs I know she would have loved if I’d made her this mix sooner. I know it’s going to hurt really bad the first time I hear a new Jay Z or Ted Leo or WILD FLAG song and she’s not here to hear it. Someone else, who I don’t know, wrote about Esme and music. That’s another thing: Esme lived a life so big and fun that it feels like any of us just have a little slice of the story. I imagine that 500 people or more could come together and each one of us would have our own Esme story.
What hurts me this morning, selfishly, is the fear that she didn’t know how singularly beautiful and perfect I thought she was, how much I appreciated the mix tapes she would bring me when I was closing the coffeeshop, how pretty I knew her to be, how much I relied on her in my own way, especially when it came to parsing anything that happened with a boy ever. The positive thing about last night, when a bunch of us that knew her managed to find each other in this broken hearted city and cry and hold each other, was that no one forgot to say “I love you.”
Last night, I was obsessively paging through facebook, trying to make some kind of sense out of this (impossible), unable to sleep, I read a post my friend Joe made that brought me a modicum of peace. He said
"When someone with a giant heart is taken from us, the only thing we can possibly do to honor them is to try our hardest to be the same way."
Here’s a site where you can donate to help Esme’s family pay for her services. As hard as this is for everyone that knew Esme, I know she would want this outpouring of affection to help make things easier for her family. She loved them so big and it’s the least that we can do to thank them for her sweet, loving existence.
Esme, I just want to tell you that I love you.