A Million Sentimental Reasons: A Memorial Day Open Letter Tribute to an Old Friend.

Dear Nick,

This weekend can’t go by with honorable mention to, you, old friend. I can’t believe it’s been nearly 8 years since you’ve lost your life in Afghanistan….8 Years is a long enough time to settle into a different kind of normal since you left but I live in fear of one day forgetting the sound of your voice or laughter. I try to keep my memory sharp.

While I believe there are heroes among us everyday, I was blessed to have known a real one. Looking back on it, we wouldn’t have gotten to know each other if not for the church volunteer work we did through the years at St. John’s because we were in different grades and had different friends but I’m glad we did truly get to know one another. You had such a huge heart, you cared what everyone had to say, nobody’s worries or cares were too big or too small for you to offer your thoughts and opinions on the matter. Also, you had the most contagious smile and laugh, I find myself chuckling to myself even now as I write this cause I can picture you shaking your head with a grin at “sentimental Brittany”.

I can’t help it though, I miss so many things about you, from the sound of your voice, the mirth in your bright blue eyes when you told a joke, to the way your head would tilt back and laugh heartily if I managed to tell a joke worthwhile to you. You were giving, kind, funny, compassionate and handsome on the inside and out.

You were one of the few people in my life who made me feel like it didn’t matter what caste society lumped you into: nerd or jock, drama/choir gleek (that was me) or cheerleader, honor student or delinquent you were a friend to all. Nobody was better than anybody in your eyes, you saw beauty in everyone not a label. I never got to tell you how much I loved and valued your presence (though it was brief) in my life, I don’t have a picture of us together partying it up (because we came from different social circles), but I always thought that I’d see you again, that there would be time for that, a drink and catch up at a local bar for that, after all I had memories along with those who volunteered with us.

As I watched the sunset through the cracks in my vertical blinds on August 10th 2011, I sobbed-not just because I realized I would never get to have that catch up drink with you- but because I lost a friend, all of our small Jersey Shore town did the day we lost you. We lost a friend, your family lost a son and brother, and our town lost a shining star.

Thank you Nick Ott, for your service and your ultimate sacrifice. Keep watching over us in heaven, big guy, we all miss and love you so much.

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