Death Won't Do Us Part: How To Remain Best Friends After Tragic Death

by Kirsten Corley

The question of how long to mourn someone has been ringing in my mind for months — specifically, since my friend's accident. I think is it still okay to be sad.

Is it still okay to cry, sometimes? Is it still okay to show this still affects me?

Often after death, there comes a period of time when society makes you feel like after a certain amount of time, you have to be okay. But, what if you aren’t?

When it comes to the sensitive subject of death, the answers come from within and how you want to remember that person. It is our obligation to never let the names of our loved ones be forgotten.

It still feels a little unreal. I look back at my phone and reread your number. Part of me wishes I could call it, but there's an emptiness knowing there is nothing on the other end. Part of me questions why didn't I text you more that summer.

Why didn't I call you? You were busy with your life, and I was busy with mine. I knew — or I thought I knew — I'd see you again that next fall.

But, as I drove home after drinking a little too much that night, I pulled into my driveway, thankful I made it home, but you were 3,000 miles away and didn't.

At the exact moment I stumbled into my house, your car went off the road and your life ended.

The question I kept asking myself was, why wasn't it me? You sat as a passenger in a true, tragic accident, and I made the deliberate choice to do wrong, yet I was safe.

I went to your funeral and as I wept over your casket, I swore I'd never make that mistake again.

I swore I would be a better person, and as I strived to be, you'd watch over me time and time again in the next few months, invisibly picking me up every time I fell.

In your life and in your death, you protected me, encouraged me and accepted me for everything I was and believed in the potential of what I could be.

So, from this point forward, there are a few vows I'll make to you:

I vow to keep talking to you. Even if you aren’t speaking back, I’ll keep telling you about my life and the lives of our friends as we continue our journey living with you in our hearts.

I vow to keep telling your story. Not just the story about how you died, but what you lived for, too.

I vow to keep you with me. If there ever is a day I don’t think of you, send me a sign and remind me.

I’ll keep wearing the bracelet you gave me and I’ll keep your picture hanging up in my room, in the best condition possible.

I vow to keep you in my heart and in my life through every milestone.

There's sadness and happiness to this; I fear the day I forget your voice and I hope I never will. I would love nothing more than to have another day with you, but one day would never be enough.

Missing someone this much is a daily reminder of how you impacted us, and because of this, it is our duty to keep you alive in our hearts.

You will be with me on my best day; you will be with me on my worst day; you will be there on my wedding day.

When I look at the crowd of people who turn up, knowing well how I struggled to cut that list down, I will know someone on the guest list is missing.

I'll look at your mom and she'll tell me how beautiful I look, and we'll laugh about the weekly phone calls from the past, as I complained about mean boys to her the way I did to you every week at school.

And, she'll say I finally got it right, and in my heart, I'll know the man looking back at me has found his way to me because of something you did from up above.

I'll tell my children your name and your story and they will know you as I did, and even though you didn't get to meet them, they will know they have an angel watching them, too.

The legacy of a person is continued in those who carry him or her along. In each life, our fingerprints never fade from the hearts we touch, and heartbreak leaves invisible scars with which we live.

We continue on with our days and in time, we begin to smile and move on with our lives. Routines become robotic, but we still ache at your absence in the world.

We adjust to the absence of lives lost, but we never forget and we hold on to those memories so tightly.

Maybe people from the outside looking in cannot fathom those days we fall to our knees and weep. My hope is they never have to experience it for themselves.

Those who live 100 years come and go from the lives they touch. Some leave on bad notes, others just move on.

You remember the time when they were a part of your life, but you know wherever they are, they are doing their own thing.

But, the few people whose lives are robbed at age 21 — they leave everyone on a good note. They are remembered for every laugh and every inside joke and that's what we take with us.

If the death can teach us anything, it's that a forever friend status never fades.

It is our duty as people to not let our loved ones be forgotten. Our lives will all be stories one day, and some unfortunately will be forgotten as time passes.

We will meet again in one form or another. Maybe when I'm sitting in Central Park looking at the skyline, I'll feel you with me; maybe when I am on a flight back to Europe, I’ll see you as I look out the window.

For as long as I am around, I vow to take you with me every day and in every way, so until we do meet again, at least in my life, you will never be forgotten.