A letter to a friend

My friend,

I heard you. I heard your cries of pain and sorrow. Your cries of loss. Your bursts of anger. I know, I’ve been there too. I heard repeatedly, “I lost my boy, that was my best friend!” I know that pain. The pain that wells up in your chest unbearably trying to come out. The pain of realizing day by day you will no longer see someone who means so much to you. It tears down the rational walls within our minds, which we have grown up with and constructed.

I remember the day my own best friend, Rory died. I was just brushing my teeth in the dorms freshman year, when a close friend called. I remember the confusion of the communication between us. I remember dropping my toothbrush.

I remember slamming my fist into the stall. I remember the pain I was feeling in my heart. And I remember needing someone. Needing to talk to anyone who could understand. But who would? I couldn’t talk to anyone up here in Reno. They didn’t know him. They didn’t really care or understand what I was going through.

I could’ve called someone back home in Vegas. But I didn’t know how they were coping. What if I called during a work shift and they couldn’t finish the day if I called. What if they were doing something so rare to forget for a moment and enjoy their life. I couldn’t call and ruin that moment. So I made the mistake of not. I kept it all inside.

The first week was pain. Thick dull pain. The idea seemed so strange, and I had to go to school so I pushed it aside for these five days. I just didn’t know how to feel.

The drive back home at the end of the week seemed out of place. Nothing seemed right. I made it home and began to see my old group of friends. We drank, we laughed, we cried a lot, and I drank too much. The societal walls within my mind began to break down. I let myself feel in the moment. I felt all the pain I had been pushing off, bottling up.

The next day at the funeral I walked up about on time. Everyone was outside waiting for me to walk inside. The lump in my throat grew enormously as I choked back the pain. We walked inside for the open wake. I was in stride with my other best friend. We lead everyone inside. It was too much. I looked down a long minute. The longest minute of my life. It felt like an eternity. I cannot ever get that memory from my mind. I couldn’t take it.

I walked out saying kind, quick hellos and hugs to those just arriving. Be strong only a little further, I kept thinking. I made my way into the cemetery out of earshot. I sat down and the pain overtook me. I’ve never cried so hard in my life. It overtook my mind and body. Until the other two of our group came up. My little brother Jack as well as Franky the third of our tight knit group of three. They picked me up, and lit me a smoke, forgetting I had quit. But I’m glad they did. We walked through the cemetery, shoulder to shoulder. We went over everything before returning back.

I don’t tell you this to glorify my own experience. But I do assume you’re experiencing all of this now. I want you to know that I know. I’ve been in your shoes. They’re tight, three sizes too small and hurt like hell. It is pain you never thought you could feel. But unlike my story, I won’t let you feel alone.

Listening to you tell me about Niko brought back all these memories. Your strong as hell and probably won’t open up. But you should. Let yourself feel the pain. It helps to feel the pain, as strange as that sounds. But I’m here to listen when you are ready.

I was fortunate to only know one close friend, a survivor of the Las Vegas Massacre who’s in recovery from her bullet wound. Ironically enough she is Rory’s ex-girlfriend. I only know if things turned for the worse how painful it would have been all over again.

I feel where you are at. I know what it’s like. I know sometimes you want to be alone, I also know those times when you want to talk but feel trapped. When that feeling comes call me.

It doesn’t matter if I’m scheduled at work, or if I’m in class. I know that a call can make all the difference in that moment. I’m here for you, if you need it know you have a close friend who will listen and understand. This pain hurts like no other, a pain that is unimaginable. Also a pain that does not have to be felt alone.