In January 2014, I lost one of my close friends to a drunken hit-and-run.
Prior to that, I did not know what it felt like to lose someone you truly cared for. I did not know what it was like to cry myself to sleep every night for a month. I did not know what it felt like to have a hole so deep inside of you that all you could feel was empty.
I avoided truly grieving for my loss for a year and focused my attention on other things. I did not want to address the pit inside of me, so I left it empty and just carried on with life.
I was confronted with the loss throughout the year. Whether it was someone's Instagram post or accidentally seeing her obituary pamphlet I hid in my bedside drawer, reminders of her absence were constantly around me.
The hole ate away at me for a year.
One night, a few weeks after the year anniversary of my friend's death, I found myself uncontrollably sobbing in my bathtub, feeling like my world was crashing down.
It felt as if my lungs were collapsing. There was a point where I thought I was going to pass out from the lack of air I was breathing.
Then something just hit me.
I guess you could say it was a revelation or some sort of epiphany like you see in movies. Whatever it was, the only thing I could focus on was the thought that she wasn't dead.
I realized the reason I was avoiding truly grieving for her was because deep down, I knew she wasn't fully gone.
She was all around me.
She was there through every hardship I faced, even though I didn't realize it. I didn’t properly mourn her for a year because I realized that when someone physically dies, it doesn't mean that his or her spirit and soul dies. That person is with you always.
After that night, I started slowly filling that hole and finding little bits of her each time. I started living and becoming the person I knew I was supposed to be.
I can’t say I've fully filled up the hole her death left inside of me quite yet, but I can say I feel her with me every single day, in every good ounce of my being.
These are the things I want to thank my friend for, even though she's no longer physically here:
Thank you for filling me with courage.
You were there with me when I stood up and ended toxic relationships with people. You were there with me when I boarded the plane to live and intern in a foreign country for two months.
You showed me that doing the scary things in life end up being the most rewarding.
Thank you for showing me what it's like to truly love someone.
I never knew what it felt like to have my entire heart ripped out with just a single phone call on a Saturday morning.
Your death showed me that I had so much love for my friends, which I wasn’t making apparent to them. You showed me how to start showing the people close to me how much I love and care for them.
You showed me that life is not long enough and too short not to appreciate the people around you.
Thank you for showing me it's okay to be who I am.
You were so painfully true to yourself that there was no obituary and no remembrance made for you that could have encapsulated your entire being.
You taught me that I needed to stop asking for approval from people who didn't give it to me in high school.
You taught me that every day, I needed to try to be the best version of myself because it might be my last.
Thank you for teaching me how to live.
The reality of losing you is I will grieve for your loss forever. I will not forget how horrible it is not having you here, but I have learned to live with it.
I have rebuilt myself around your loss, and I have found myself to be almost whole again. I started doing the things I know make me happy, regardless of who thinks it’s cool or not.
I started putting myself out there for opportunities I thought were out of my reach. I started living a new life because losing you completely destroyed my past one.
I am not the same I was before losing you, nor would I want to be.
I live every day with the knowledge that your soul is around me. Everything that made me love you when you were alive are the exact things that are making me start to love myself now that you're gone.
Losing you has been the worst thing that has happened to me, but I find comfort in knowing I never truly lost you; I found the best of you in me.