I lost a friend today.
I will never forget the phone call I received this morning, from my best friend from college, notifying me of the death of one of our college friends. I will never forget that feeling of shock as I tried to swallow back the tears that wanted to consume me. He was gone.
Nothing in life had prepared me for death. As many funerals as I have attended growing up and cemeteries I’ve had to endure, nothing prepared me for the reality of it. I was always removed from it- consistently standing on the outside looking in. Familial deaths didn’t affect me because for the most part I didn’t know the family that was being put to rest. Outside of abstract family stories and pictures that only circulated postpartum, I didn’t know who they were. So his death hit close to home and was way too close for comfort.
I found myself trying to make sense of it. Last night I was just watching a video he had posted. This morning, I was expecting his usual good morning video. Even after my best friend shared the news, I found myself constantly checking his social media pages for activity from him. Something to dispel the fact that he was in fact gone.
I read through the messages and comments everyone left, commenting on just how special and irreplaceable he is. Shared tales of how he had impacted their lives for the better and pictures of him interlocked with just about everyone he knew. And of course the usual commentary regarding someone passing commenced. The teary eyed remarks of making sure the ones you love know you love them and living life to the fullest because you never know when it will be cut short.
Naturally, as I grieved, I started to come up with ways to live life to the fullest and to ensure I loved every minute of it. I prepared to end every other sentence with I loves you and dedications of how much a person to meant to me, every time I spoke to someone. I prepared myself as if I knew my days were numbered, geared up to make sure that those I cared about knew I cared, and that those that meant the most to me would be left with nothing but wonderful memories.
All in the course of just eight hours after hearing the devastating news, I had a plan of action. I was going to start my business, quit my job, and fast track myself on the road to happiness.
No sooner had I told my boyfriend about my plans to live life free of unhappiness, he was reeling me in, reminding me that I shouldn’t just up and quit my job because a friend died, or go forth with any notions of spending my life’s saving in a day. I got upset. I mean, how dare he tell me to slow my roll. My friend had just died, tragically, proving that not only is life short, but I have to make the most of it.
A few hours after speaking to my boyfriend about it and watching a few more minutes of videos and pictures of my late friend, I realized exactly why my boyfriend reeled me in the way he did.
I was mourning. I am mourning. I lost an amazing friend albeit not staying in contact with him after having my daughter and graduating college. I mean, he was among one of the first people I shared that I was pregnant to. He was also the only person that got genuinely excited about my news. Everyone else had paused, unsure of how to react, their faces conveying the same uneasiness mine must have conveyed when I saw that pregnancy test. Not his though. His face lit up. His excitement pure and genuine.
He was an ambitious young man who enjoyed life for what it was. He was constantly on the pursuit of making his dreams come true and encouraging others to follow their dreams. He was influential, motivational, and inspirational. He was taken before his time, but I know God has a reason for taking him when he did.
As I try to heal from this loss, I’m realizing that life is more than just enjoying every moment, refusing to settle, or even making sure your loved ones know they are loved. Life is about living.
It shouldn’t be spent worrying about making sure that when you pass away that those you love know they are loved or ensuring you did everything you wanted to do before going or even ensuring you enjoyed every minute of it before it’s time to leave. Life is about taking it one day at a time. It’s about going through the ups and downs. It’s about living life the only way you know how to live it. Regardless of the end result, your loved ones will always know they are loved and the memories you created will never be in vain.
As I think about my friend, I realize that whether he knew how many lives he touched and how many people credit him for where they are now in life, isn’t nearly as important, as knowing that he loved and cared about all of us. And if there is one thing we all know after his passing, it’s that he genuinely loved and cared for us. That no matter how many months or years went by without speaking to each other that we were always in each other’s thoughts.
And that’s what will comfort me.