What It Feels Like When The First Love Of Your Life Passes Away

By Erika Brown

I was 17 when I met Patrick unexpectedly in his garage. A mutual friend brought me there. We bonded over smoking pot, and we basically fell in love at first sight. From the moment we met, there was this metaphysical bond between us that words can't describe. We spent six months together, hanging out and going on adventures every day. Then, we had our first kiss.

It was late one night, after a party. We were curled up on the floor of his neighbor's basement. We were maybe a little drunk and possibly a little high. But, we were mostly euphoric on the vibes we felt while we were together.

He took a deep breath and finally turned over to kiss me. To be funny, I pulled back my head and dodged his kiss. He started profusely apologizing, but I shut up him by rolling on top of him and kissing him like crazy. It was electric. We couldn't stop kissing.

It was history from there. I was absolutely in love with him. We were that couple around town that was always breaking up, getting back together and then breaking up again. Our passion seemed to explode whenever we were together.

He broke my heart. I dated other people and cheated on them with him. I broke his heart. He dated other people. It went on like that for eight years.

I tried to move on a million times. I moved away, but I always came back. I always found myself wrapped up in his arms late at night because he was the only one I truly ever felt at home with. The sheer feeling of being in his arms was like some otherworldly drug. Everything was OK.

Not very many people in my life knew about the extent of our relationship because they didn't understand him. They blamed him for my rebellious tendencies. He had tattoos, and he was absolutely wild. He was always at odds with society in general. He was the greatest guy you'd ever meet, but I wanted to forget him because he was always driving me crazy.

Taking trips to new places, experimenting with drugs and sharing lots of laughter were the defining aspects of our relationship. But then, something changed. The line between experimentation and addiction became blurred for Patrick. Honestly, there were a lot of things I didn't know about his drug use, or about drugs in general.

I went to college, but he went to jail. Our lives took different turns. But, we never drifted apart in the way most people do. He was always my constant. He was the one I'd call if something really bothered me.

Despite his struggles with addiction, he always answered. He was always there for me, no matter what. In retrospect, I realize I wasn't there for him like I should've been. I considered his drug use a choice. I didn't treat it like a sickness.

As a result, I treated him like he was choosing to hurt both me and himself. All those broken promises started to cloud the love and trust our relationship was built on.

Patrick opened me up to who I was as a person, and to all the beautiful ways in which one can love the world. He inspired me to travel, be free and enjoy my life. He brought out the best in me. He unlocked channels in my brain that created new waves of thinking. He allowed me to tap into a higher level of being that I might've never experienced otherwise.

I always told my girlfriends that in a world where careers and money didn't define success, Patrick and I would be perfect. I didn't realize we were already perfect. I had failed to acknowledge that because the bond we had and the relationship society told me I should have were two very different things.

Nearly two years ago, Patrick died of a drug overdose. He was four days away from his 25th birthday. He was addicted to opiates, and he silently fought this battle for a long time. I can't imagine the pain it must've caused him to fight his battle alone.

He was finally on a solid path. He had a new job, a new place and his sobriety. Everything was going well. Our relationship had matured, and I had started to imagine him in my future again. Then, he was gone forever.

I'm still hopelessly in love with him. I feel like I'm swimming around in this giant, gaping hole that's been left behind by his absence. Although we were apart when he died, I relied on his existence for the validation of my own.

Nobody has ever looked at me like he did, and I miss it every day. He wasn't just my lover; he was my absolute best friend.

I used to always ask him why he loved me. He probably got really annoyed. He would always respond that he just did. He just fell in love with me. I made him laugh, and we understood one another. It was that simple, yet it was intangible.

For the past two years, I've used my grief as a crutch. I've used it as an excuse for my own addictions and pitfalls. But, I've also done some really amazing things. I couldn't have done those things in any circumstances other than a grief-stricken heart. I'm more fearless and independent. I take positive risks because you do only live once.

As much as I can, I try to enjoy my life because it's what Patrick would've wanted. I believe I'll meet him in another world, and we'll fall in love all over again. But until then, I'm going to savor every sweet moment of my precious life. Not many people ever experience a first love like I did. For this, I'm eternally grateful.

They say energy never dies, and that matter can't be created or destroyed. So, I know that wherever he is, our love lives on.

Sometimes, I'm able to see above the sadness. In those moments, I can feel the love and friendship we share. I see him in the wind, the trees and the sun beaming down on my face. Sometimes, I think he is a bird or a baby. I believe dogs bark at me because they see him, too.

Sometimes, I feel delusional and vastly alone. Sometimes, I feel broken. I wonder how I can ever be loved or fall in love again. For this, I have no answers. I can only trust that I'm where I'm meant to be.

One day, I'll find peace with all of this. The optimistic part of me wants to write, "It gets better.”

I want to believe he's with me all the time, but this isn't how I feel. I miss him terribly, and I wish he was still alive every day.

Despite the heartache I've suffered in both his life and death, I would definitely walk into that garage all over again if I was given a choice. This battle has been fought for thousands of years. The good news, my friends, is that love conquers all. It even conquers death.