An open letter to my high school best friend
I met you when I moved to Leesburg in eighth grade. I knew almost no one at this new school, but my locker was close to yours, and I noticed how kind you were immediately. In ninth and tenth grade, we had English together and we discovered quickly that we shared a love for blogs, amongst other things. We talked about music, God, and of course, how to hack the internet so we could get on Tumblr during school hours.
It wasn’t until junior year when we really got close. We both took newspaper. During times when we should have been interviewing students or coming up with ideas for our next article, we were pestering the computer teacher, making dumb videos, or laughing. We laughed a lot.
Senior year came around eventually, and we found that our friendship got even closer. This is the year we went through things together. We went through breakups, heartaches, fighting with parents, deciding where we’d attend college, and graduation. Senior year you became my best friend.
You taught me quite a few things.
You taught me that life isn’t that serious. In fact, it’s not serious at all. I could ask any person who knew you what they thought your signature trait was, and any of those people would name one of two things: your love for dark lipstick, or (most popular) your infectious laughter.
Your laugh was the loudest laugh in any room. You screamed when you laughed, and you laughed with your entire face. We were the champs of silent laughing. I remember one time, in specific, that we were doing edits around the table. Something was clearly hysterical to us, and we couldn’t stop laughing. Of course, Mr. Yorke gave us his death stare, and we could tell he was done with us. (When was he not?) You and I silent laughed for a minute and a half straight. I’ve been told that you cannot “silent laugh”, but we proved that statement wrong time and time again.
You taught me how to enjoy life. You were always dancing, always making a joke, always wanting to have fun. I think some people could see that as a bad thing, but not me. I enjoy life because of you. Sometimes I have inhibitions, even to this day, but I think of you and your exuberant way of living, and I start to feel those insecurities slip farther and farther away.
It was around 10 AM when I heard about your passing. You know, you always hear people say, “I just couldn’t believe it…” So much so, that it’s almost become just another figure of speech. But for me, I truly did not believe you were gone. I called your phone seven times, and received no answer. I prayed it was just coincidence. It wasn’t until later that afternoon I found out what had happened. I believed it then.
I had never felt the sting of death until that moment. You were so young. You had so much life ahead of you; so much rich life ready to be lived. My mind couldn’t grasp the finality of what had happened. I remember feeling how final your death was. I couldn’t go back and change things. Nobody could, no matter how much we wanted to.
I remember feeling angry. Angry at the person driving the car, angry at the situation, angry because I didn’t understand. I still don’t understand. Angry because I wish I could’ve stopped it, angry because I couldn’t, angry because I hadn’t talked to you in two years when it happened. I guess I’m still battling with that last part.
I remember feeling this hollow feeling in my chest. You know, that aching feeling?
You’re not here
you’re not coming back
you’re never coming back.
At your viewing, I saw you. It wasn’t my friend laying there in the casket, but it was. I didn’t cry. I couldn’t. I felt that aching though. I hugged your parents and they held on tight. They loved you so much, I felt it in their embrace.
They had a video playing; a slideshow of these beautiful photos of you and your life. I smiled and relived so many memories when I saw just how many photos I was in with you. That part made me happy. I was a big part of your life, too.
The reality of death wrecked me that day and I have never been the same since. What I’ve learned though, is though you’re gone, no one is ever really gone.
You’re still here
you’ll always be here,
you aren’t going anywhere.
You’re in the laughter of your family members when they sit around the table and tell stories about you. You’re in all the songs you ever listened to and showed to people in that passionate way you did. You’re in the dances I bust out into randomly, the way I laugh, and you’re forever etched into my sense of humor. You’re in the halls of Hofstra University. You’re the passion behind the organizations you believed in. You believed in things so wholeheartedly.
You’ll never really “be gone”. You’ll always be here with us, in our hearts.
Death has shown me how violently final it is. It has shown that I won’t get to hug you again. I won’t get to see your smile or hear your laugh, at least not in person. But death has shown me that when you truly love someone, they’re still there with you, just in a different way. You’re not here, but I feel you here. It’s a paradox, I suppose, but a lot of life is.
I don’t want to realize how beautiful someone’s life is only when that life is taken from them. I don’t want to figure out how beautiful having breath in your lungs is only when someone else’s breath is taken from them. Your life and your death have changed in me, in the most beautiful way.
I will never forget you. How could I forget someone who is a part of me? Thank you for changing me.