On Loss and Acceptance
I lost a close friend yesterday. It was too soon, too unexpected, too confusing.
For those who choose to leave us, death is the final statement, the definite end. But for those of us who are left behind, only questions remain. What do I say? Think? Feel? How do I learn to grieve? To understand? To accept, to move on?
Today, before I went out to face the world, I drew black lines across my eyelids, put on earrings and a nice shirt, brushed my hair out neatly. The unobserving eye could have never noticed the salty residue on my tear-stained cheeks, the slowness of my gait, my bloodshot eyes. I looked fine, but I wasn’t. I can never know, but this is the closest I can get to imagining what it must have been like for you, to go out into a cold and scary world feeling completely and utterly helpless and alone; to have seemed “fine” when you weren’t at all.
You were one of the best friends anyone could ever ask for. Lovingly honest, you knew when to tell me when I was being stupid or overly sensitive. Loyal to a fault, you were there whenever and wherever I needed you. Deeply intelligent, you challenged my thinking in so many ways.
You were all those things but also so much more. There is no number or combination of words that could ever begin to describe any facet of your being.
There are so many things I want to tell you, to ask you, to do with you. Each time I scroll past your name on my contacts list, my heart clenches and my eyes well up with tears. Every time I look through old photos or hear something you would have thought was funny, I see you with your head thrown back, laughing that completely free, contagious laugh of yours.
No matter how much I am told— and know— otherwise, there will always be guilt. Guilt for thinking everything was finally better. For not being there. For being the one who gets to remember.
And frustration. Frustration for not realizing how important you were to so many people. For giving up so much. For those thoughts and feelings that tormented you.
But also joy. A bittersweet, tender joy for having known you, for having played a small part in your life, and for the beautiful memories that I will keep with me forever.
I don’t understand, and I can never truly understand. But something you always taught me was to never stop looking for opportunities to learn, and that’s something I can do.
Ava, I’m learning to deal with the pain, to cope, to grieve. I’m learning what it means to lose, and what it means to grow from that loss. But most of all, I’m learning to accept what happened and hopefully one day, move on. Rest in peace. You will not be forgotten.