My letter to Alo.
This is surprisingly difficult — writing this for you. Obviously, the entirety of this is miserable and devastating and heartbreaking; that goes without saying. But this. The writing of it — it is extremely difficult.
I feel as though I’m trapped somewhere between the logical and emotional sides of my being as the witness to an un-winnable argument. Logically, I understand that when someone you love dies, untimely or not, it always feels unfair in some way. There’s never enough time when it comes to love. That feels like something you would say.
But with you, now, it’s difficult for me to comprehend even a tiny corner of the vast injustice of your death. Sitting here on my childhood bed, surrounded by old pictures and old memories on the night before your funeral, I’m struck most by thoughts of the future. You were my friend, such a great fucking friend, but the real stomach-pitting sorrow hits me hardest when I think of everything you could have done, everything you could have fixed and made and changed — everything that I know you were already doing.
I haven’t told very many people about what happened that didn’t know you already. Honestly, I think I’m scared. I’m scared that talking about it to other people who aren’t feeling what I’m feeling and didn’t really know you will somehow make everything seem more pedestrian, more normal — this death of a wonderful person who was too young. It’s a story everyone has heard before and many have lived. But, the thing of it is that there is nothing normal about who you were. Losing you isn’t just a terrible and unfair thing that happened. Losing you feels like losing an integral element of the world, like losing the last piece of the greatest and most complicated puzzle that now can never be finished.
I have this thing with words. (surprise, surprise right?) I am a staunch believer that the way we talk about things somehow defines our real, lived-in experience of those things. It’s the same reason I don’t think it’s a coincidence that a child’s memory begins at the same time that he or she starts to really grasp language. We think in the same terms as how and what we speak. So, for me, talking about your life and your death matters in a way that I don’t think I can quite articulate. For me, talking about who you were and what you meant to so many people has to be done carefully and precisely. Because you aren’t just another tragic story and you could never be summed up by the words, “a wonderful person who died too young.”
There is an entire ocean of meaning that is missed in the phrases and clichés we feel bound and trapped within when trying to explain the massive weight of your life and legacy.
I wasn’t your closest friend by far; there are so many people luckier than me who were able to claim those spots. But, I feel so damn lucky for the moments of friendship that I did get to share with you.
The thing I remember most right now is how I always liked telling you things. The look of honest interest that crossed your face with every bit of news always made it feel more important, more meaningful, like I mattered a little more because you were interested in what I had to say. Not many people care as much as you did. You cared so much about everyone.
Now, if I could tell you one thing, (and I’m sure I still can, because if anyone is taking the time to read Medium in heaven, I know without a doubt that it is you) it would be to tell you that you made a difference to me. From freshman year of high school throughout these last thirteen years of knowing you, your life made a difference in my life.
In high school, your friendship gave me the confidence to be myself, to be goofy and weird and loud and to spend an inordinate amount of time surrounded by you and your wonderfully weird friends. After school, being back in Chicago, your friendship was a safe haven in unchartered territory, a much-appreciated comfort when so much felt uncertain. And most recently, your friendship has been a source of inspiration, a real-life model for the type of things I wanted to do and say and be.
You were just so fucking special. A light in any room. A magnet of people. A buoy of comfort. You were passionate and kind and creative and funny. You were beautiful, and I will miss you. I will miss you so so much.
Yours always and forever,
Now please stop calling me that.