please don’t reply to this just read it, and DM if u really feel like u need to — it’s too personal. i’m FINE. ❤

I think about conversations I would have with her if she magically came back to life. Would I be angry with her? Would I ask her what was going through her mind when she decided to take her own life? Or would I let her be because hearing what was wrong would be too much. I’ve had dreams where this scenario plays out. Where she shows up outside of a restaurant at a four-person table. She sits adjacent from me, and there are two men there hitting on us. One of them wants to see her again. There’s tons of conversation but I’m silent and ambivalent. I keep looking at her, as if she needs to acknowledge that she died, as if she’s hiding something from everyone talking to her. The men drive away on motorcycles. I remember thinking to myself in the dream, “is she going to tell them she’s dead, or that she’s going to die” or is she not really here? That dream comes to me once in a while and every time it’s a different situation, we’re outside, but I know she’s not really there. I know that talking to her isn’t real, so I don’t. But there are times in the day where it’s silent and there’s nothing more I want than to talk to her. I want to hear her laughter; it betrayed how mature she was. There’s an incredibly vivid image of her in my mind, doing this thing where she nodded her head up and down furiously when she discussed something she loved. Everyone who knew her closely remembers that about her. She was so open with me. No matter what we talked about, we either went there or didn’t at all. We both used to go to CVS and buy a two pack of 3D white electronic toothbrushes. When we came home we’d always say one is for teeth, and one for masturbating. We had a four-hour conversation on why electric toothbrushes were better than vibrators, just like any other conversation we’d have. In the afternoon, we’d say, “let’s get a frozen cappuccino” from the corner store next to our apartment. When we’d get there, both of us would smile at each other bashfully and say, “nah, we’re getting green juice.” We were predictable to each other even in the most miniscule ways. There were tons of small moments like this which are the saddest for me to remember, but were the warmest times of my life. One day she came to my room randomly, sat down and we just talked for three hours. This happened a lot, but this time she went “I always need this. I feel recharged after I see you.” And that’s the perfect description of our relationship. We survived off of each other’s energy and presence. It’s a really, really rare and special thing to have — someone who knows you till the bottom of your soul. A lot of people look for that in romantic relationships, but I found it in a better place. It wasn’t a place fraught with tension and games — just support and love and discovery. I play back all the things I can remember now, which are very few — time has a way of erasing things to make moving forward easier. The thing is, in most friendships there are fights and days of tension and complication — but I can’t seem to find one. And I know my brain isn’t playing tricks on me either, because there was only one day we didn’t get along. That day we walked back separately from lunch. We didn’t talk to each other for a few hours, and then I apologized for being passive aggressive. It was the only relationship I’ve had in my life where I was loved the way I needed to be loved. It made me feel full all the time. She just always knew. She always wanted the same things as me because we spent so much time together we only wanted to do things both of us would like. It sounds unhealthy, but it really wasn’t. We had other friends, but we always admitted that we never felt the same around anyone but each other. We would take the bus to go everywhere in Austin the first year we got to college. On our first night, she took me out to party and I didn’t know her much other than the year I knew her in high school. But even then, the day I started living with her I had this urge to look out for her. She told me to leave her alone with the guys she was partying with, and I just kept following her. My other friends wanted me to join them and I kept telling them I needed to keep her safe. She did the same for me. If I were sick, she’d make me all the medicine and soups and bring them to my room and sit and watch movies with me. We would lay in either my bed or hers and just laugh about things no one else would think were funny. We talked about people we knew and we always had the same observations about the same people. We used to stalk the guys we talked to till we found out everything about them, and then we’d laugh about it. Most of the time we ended up laying on her twin sized bed, even though mine was much bigger in the next room. We’d fall asleep all tangled up and uncomfortable. Then we’d wake up and go get juice again. It was the nicest thing to live with her because she was my best friend but also because we never got tired of each other. We had a group of four best friends — Sonia, Emily, her, and I. These were the only two other girls who were as close to us as we were to each other. We had movie nights where we’d choose a chick flick to watch and we’d all squeeze on my bed and eat some weird snack and then act out the weird parts of the movie after. That security and that togetherness is something that literally gives me heart pain when I think of it. We loved each other so much it was insane. I still love Sonia and Emily with my heart. When I had to tell them that she passed, I couldn’t get words out. The months leading up to her death, I was a mess. She was always there to pick me up, without fail. I’d be crying and devastated and she’d come and say with such gentleness “Zayna, come on let’s go get something to eat. We’ll listen to Hilary Duff and scream out the lyrics.” She would stay awake listening to me cry and complain and one night she started tearing up. I never saw a friend of mine cry when I told them about things that happened to me. I asked her if she was okay and she said “I hate that he does this to you. I hate seeing you like this. It hurts me so much Zayna, that someone is making you feel this way.” I was speechless. It was what motivated me to make a change. She had sensitive reactions to people treating me badly, and I had aggressive ones to men treating her badly. I’d get angry, I’d want to fight, and she’d always tell me it’s ok. There was a time when I came to her and I said I didn’t feel beautiful anymore, and said she couldn’t imagine how I could ever feel that way — she said I was the first person she thought of when she thought of beauty. I remember the week before she passed away, we went to Agora in Houston, and she looked more beautiful than ever. She always looked stunning and I always told her she was the standard of beauty to me and she’d brush it off but blush. She wore this pinstripe halter jumpsuit, her hair was curly and gorgeous and her skin looked golden. But she was upset. The pulse nightclub shooting happened a couple days before. As she was talking to me about it, she said “I don’t know if there will ever be a place for me here or if I can ever shake this feeling.” I didn’t know how to respond, but I tried to comfort her as best as I could in my own depressed state. We drove home and than hung out a day later and went to El Rey, got tacos and sat outside a closed Zoe’s Kitchen in downtown. We just talked and laughed and felt safe. I remember this so vividly because no one else would have done this with me, even now. She always just got up to do the random things we would think of. We had this look we gave each other — the hookah look. Whenever we’d want to go somewhere new, we’d turn to each other and say “hookah” at the same time and start dying laughing, cause we always ended up at a shisha bar. The second to last time I hung out with her, we went out to the museum randomly, and the exhibit there was sold out. So we just got food and came back. When we were walking back from the museum, she told me that she finally felt at peace. I asked her how and she said, “With God, with my family, I just feel like it’s okay now.” I didn’t know what it meant, but now I think of everything in symbols. The day I remember most is the last time I saw her. We were recording the second episode of our podcast, after three weeks of trying to do it. We were in the makeshift studio in her house. She was acting so goofy and fun that day, she told me she felt good for once. She had been through a lot up until then, and she finally felt better. I have a video of her doing this ridiculous dance with two pairs of headphones on waving her hands in the air. I don’t watch it anymore because it makes me too sad, obviously. While we were brainstorming, we got a call from a mutual friend. She said that a friend had taken his own life. I don’t think I’ve ever been angrier with someone for ruining her happiness or more devastated. The moment she felt good, it was snatched from her. She just fell silent. She got off the phone and laid her head on my lap and started to cry. I kept stroking her hair and kissing her forehead and telling her it wasn’t her fault. She felt guilty for some reason. I think because she hadn’t spoken to him for a while. I was fasting that day, so after about an hour, she got up from my lap and said “let’s get hookah,’ so we did. She got ready, and I stood in the mirror behind her watching her be beautiful — she was wearing orange, her best color — I told her she looked stunning, over and over because I didn’t know what else to say. What she said next is something I replay everyday “But I don’t feel like myself Zayna.” I didn’t want to press her on what that meant so I held her tightly and kissed her cheek and then we left for the hookah bar. We blasted her favorite music and she did seem to feel a little lighter in that moment. At the hookah bar, she was busy texting someone and I was watching the NBA finals. I tried to divert the conversation to the guy she was talking to, so she’d feel better. She did for a bit, and then I asked if I could use her phone. I tweeted that for the first time in a long time, I felt amazing with my best friend by my side, getting hookah, eating good. Something like that. Afterwards, we drove back and belted out Pick Up The Phone in her car and I told her I loved her and that I’d see her tomorrow. She drove away and I didn’t think for one second it would be the last time I saw her, but I knew I had to watch her like a hawk. I’ve never told anyone this, but I had an irrational fear of leaving her alone in high stress situations. I had planned my life to live in the same place as her during her time in medical school, so if she felt like she was being pushed off an edge; I’d be there for her. She was incredibly sensitive to everything that happened in the world, it would affect her on every level. So for the next few days I called and texted and dropped flowers to her house. I tried to see her, but she said it was okay and that she had her sister. The week before she died, she was having a hard night, so I went out looking for comics she said she wanted. I couldn’t find them, but I found one of those hallmark books called “Me Without You.” It was tiny and had small poems about being without someone you loved and it all ended with how much you needed them and how life wouldn’t be complete without them. It was cute and light and I didn’t think much of it other than it’s perfect to give to her. I just wanted her to know she was my person and that she was never alone. I wrote a note on the first page, and the last line was “I don’t want to imagine living in a world without you, and I hope I never have to. I love you more than anyone else.” I dropped it off to her house with pink flowers, a candle, and some dark chocolate. She really liked and it and took pictures and posted it online. I was happy she felt good for a while. The day before she passed, I asked if she needed anything at all, and she said no. I asked her if she wanted to go do yoga at the gym, and she said it was too late (it was 11pm). That was the last text I sent to her knowing she was alive to read it. Even now, her location isn’t off on my phone, it’s just not shared with me. I went into her room the day I found out she passed away, and saw three photo strips of us still on her mirror. I was kissing her cheek in one and she was kissing mine in the other. I also saw that all of her books were on her shelf, but Me Without You was still lying on the top of her dresser separated from everything else, right next to the pink flowers I gave her.