If I knew then what I know now; if I was given the gift of turning back time and doing it again, there would be some things I would change.
Were you here again I'd let you believe you were God's gift to women; I've never met a man so sure of himself. I would not have teased you so much about your perfectly coiffed hair you took such great pains to perfect. I'd be a better friend and introduce you to all the girls you'd ask me about even if I felt they were not good enough for you. I would have listened more to your dating advice and not have been so foolish. I would have told you you were right.
I would have taken advantage of all the trips you made to my college. If only you had come with me it wouldn't have felt so large and myself lost in it. I would have joined you on the walk around the lake.
If I could turn back time I would have let you read my manuscript you stole from me instead of begging for it's return. I would have memorized the poem you wrote and was so eager to show me. I would have taken a better interest in your career as a cowboy even if I liked you better as a farmer. I would tell you how much your teasing meant to me.
If we could relive the times we spent at my house I would have gotten you tea and brownies every time you asked. I would have sat with you on the pew when you got in trouble. (That would have been a lot of pew time.) I would have listened to your bragging with a smile instead of rolled eyes. I would have argued less and enjoyed you more.
But, you know, Duane, maybe there's a reason God does not allow us to go back. Maybe if I changed all these things I wouldn't have all the wonderful, crazy memories I cherish so. If given the opportunity maybe I wouldn't change a thing. These things I remember are so special in their own right, so, maybe I couldn't touch them if I had the chance.
Thank you, Duane, for being one of my oldest, truest friends. Even though you're gone, our friendship continues because I still see you in so much of what I do and in who I am. Thank you for the pictures you drew and the notes you left; I read them often. Thank you for the frosting flowers you stole from the wedding cakes and gave to me. I still have them all. Thank you for coming to me about the many girls you liked. You valued my opinion and that meant the world to me even if I teased you for being a ladies' man. Thank you for what you said to my boyfriend who is now my husband; your approval was special to us both. I would have given anything to have seen your smile in the crowd on my wedding day. I had a frosting flower made just for you. I gave it to your mom. She had a yellow rose for me in honor of you. It was the best wedding present we received.
Thank you for that once-in-a-lifetime friendship that I could never duplicate with another. Thank you for being a constant in my life. You were true to your last day on earth; not many people can claim to have lived a life like yours.
You have gone on to Heaven and our time apart is unknown. I miss you every day and know I will continue to do so. But, one day I will close my eyes on earth and open them in Heaven and your smile will be the first one I'll look for. In my own imaginings of that meeting I fully anticipate your taking me by the arm, showing me the place you've since called home and getting your old confidant up to date on all the girls in Heaven.
This time, I'll receive it gladly.
Duane Russell Robinson passed away August 4th, 2002 at the age of 24.