10 Things I Learned When My Friend Died

10 Things I Learned When My Friend Died

“There is no way for me to fathom how this is going to impact all of our lives, Lexi.”
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“There is no way for me to fathom how this is going to impact all of our lives, Lexi.”

-Opening line from an entry I wrote on September 3, 2015


A year ago, on September 2, 2015, my friend passed away. I’ll never forget that phone call or those weeks and months to come when I experienced a physically painful, emotional grief that I didn’t know was possible to feel. I remember the following months all so vividly: the call, the driving to and from friends’ houses and spending all my time with them, the vigil, memorial, and monthly anniversaries. Walking through the halls at school feeling like our friends were all under a magnifying glass and trying not to break down when a teacher asked how we were holding up. Not wanting to talk about it at all, to only talking about her. Sleeping too much and sleeping too little. It was something I could never fathom until I was actually experiencing it. A year ago, when I wrote that entry, I couldn’t imagine what it’d be like 365 days later.

If I could jump back to then, I’d tell myself that there are things that happen that are so heavy that they can’t help but impact you, so don’t try to avoid it. I’d let myself know that I would soon learn so much about myself and about life from these things, and that what I learn would somehow mend the part of me that broke. So, this is what i’ve learned:

1. Just because death is permanent, there is an upside.

I swore from the moment I heard that phone call up to just a few months ago that I would always feel that harsh pain lingering inside me. I still do; you just kind of get used to it. However, the short-lived friendship and life that Lexi shared with all of those she loved is worth every ounce of pain that those of us who knew her may feel. Even though that pain may last forever, that also means the friendship will last forever.

2. You don’t always have to find the positive in everything...

Some things will be stamped by the loss, and appear ruined. I normally have my Spotify playlist on shuffle, and this past year Regina Spektor’s Eet always crept its way to the top of the queue to play next. I would get angry when I heard it. I knew I could just click next, but the day would somehow feel ruined when once I heard it.

3....But it helps.

But after a few months, I stopped getting angry. It no longer ruined my day, which now even makes me feel guilty for saying. This song was played at her vigil and holds a personal significance. I have my headphones in on the bus sometimes or in the library here at school, and now when the song finds its way through the wires of my headphones, I feel my heart jump a little--some sadness, some happiness, some gratitude. Sad that I can’t hear one of her sarcastic comments, happy that I can remember all the hilarious comments she did share, and thankful that I got to experience them. The song is just Lexi stopping by.

4. Vocally appreciate everyone you’re appreciative of. We don’t do it enough.

One of the things I wrote in the entry was,

“Lexi, you are the reason I met and joined our wonderful, crazy group of friends. You are the reason I found my way through school and taught me not to give any cares what people thought. You were great at that. Your sarcasm and humor lined up so well with mine, and I am sorry that we drifted and didn't build it up more.”

I’ve learned not to be regretful because regrets, in the case of a death, won’t help anything. So that’s why, no matter how cliche it sounds, all we have is now. Yes, it’s nice to be appreciative, but be proactive with it. Grateful that your friend is really good at listening? Tell her. Thankful that your cousin has that weird sense of humor that can always make you laugh? Tell him. Happy that your family exists just because you like being around them and feeling at home? Tell them. Even the littlest things, vocalize them--make them the big things.

5. Listening to sad songs and crying actually helps.

I tried for a while to avoid those typical, sappy songs. I thought, “Why put myself in a place that is guaranteed to hurt?” But it is so necessary. It is so necessary to feel that hurt and experience it from every angle. The pain is what will help you grow, growing is what will help you heal. Sometimes, you will want to refuse the pain because you think you have to be strong, but that’s why you throw on the saddest playlists you can find and just let it all out. It would hurt, but I found that after those crying sessions sometimes, I would laugh. I thought about how Lexi would be poking fun at me for how funny my face looks when I sob, and how she’d be doing some weird voice or gesture to cheer me up.

6. Make the most out of every moment. Tomorrow is not guaranteed.

One thing that really gets to me is that our senior class got to have that “senior year experience” and we would all be looking forward to the next chapter of our life with the college experience. It hurt me that Lexi wouldn’t get this. Living in the moment was something Lexi was great at. It taught me to focus more on my feelings and being present and grateful. We are alive and are living this human experience, how amazing is that? We have this ability to feel emotions, good and bad--take them all in. We have an ability to think and to form thoughts and ideas--run with those ideas and make the most of them.

7. It is OK to keep your head up.

I remember feeling like it was a sin the first days I started to feel a little better. I felt so guilty. But if you keep your head down and your gaze on the ground, you will miss eyes that were meant for you to meet. You will miss the way the sunset changes the sky, you will miss the stars that are still shining to remind you that “this too shall pass.” It in no way means that it’s forgotten, it means that the past isn’t the only thing we’ve got going for us. Just because Lexi can no longer enjoy the taste of her favorites snacks, like Takis or Lemonheads, doesn’t mean family and friends shouldn’t enjoy them for her.

8. Laughter can feel so wrong at times, but like music at others.

I remember hearing the laughter of strangers in public. After her death, hearing laughter sounded like the devil’s lullaby. I hated it and hated those people for laughing. I was angry that the world was still going on like nothing had happened, while the world's’ all of those who knew Lexi were at a halt. I, myself, didn’t dare to laugh, it felt so wrong. Yet, at one of the many get- togethers with our friends, we came across a video of Lexi having one of her laughing fits. We all laughed with her, and I’m sure they’d all agree, it was the best thing we’ve ever heard.

9. All your feelings are valid. Every single one of them.

I remember feeling my stomach drop and collapsing when I hung up the phone. I remember not feeling much on the drive to my friend’s house the night of the accident. I remember feeling guilty for not always feeling something. I remember feeling stupid for feeling too much at inappropriate times. I remember not knowing what I felt. Every emotion is valid and fair game. Something so profound is bound to leave you speechless in a whirlwind of emotions. Don’t feel guilty for feeling fine sometimes and being left crying out-of-breath at other times.

10. Everything happens for a reason.

This has always been a saying that is very personal to me and is close to my heart, and it was validated through this experience. I realized I learned things from Lexi that I was meant to learn; we had our arguments but they were necessary to make us the people we were meant to be. She moved to our town freshman year because she was meant to fill our halls with her loud personality and use her beautiful voice in our musicals. There was a reason Lexi was meant to be a part of Lemont High School’s Class of 2016, and there was a reason she had to say goodbye for now. These reasons are personal for each person, and it’s important that we find these reasons for everything--good and bad-- in our lives so that we can grow and come to peace with whatever turns life takes.

Cover Image Credit: facebook

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22 New Things That I Want To Try Now That I'm 22

A bucket list for my 22nd year.

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"I don't know about you but I'm feelin' 22," I have waited 6 long years to sing that and actually be 22! Now 22 doesn't seem like a big deal to people because you can't do anything that you couldn't do before and you're still super young. But I'm determined to make my 22nd year a year filled with new adventures and new experiences. So here's to 22.

1. Go sky diving.

What's crazier than jumping out of a plane? (Although I'll probably try indoor skydiving first.)

2. Go cliff jumping/diving.

I must be the only Rhode Islander who hasn't gone to Jamestown and jumped off a cliff.

3. Ride in a hot air balloon.

Up, up and away.

4. Try out skiing.

Cash me in the next Olympics, how bout dat.

5. Try out snow boarding.

Shawn White, I'm coming for you.

6. Go bungee jumping.

Because at least this time I'll be attached to something.

7. Go to Portugal.

I mean I'm Portuguese so I have to go at some point, right?

8. Go to Cape Verde.

Once again, I'm Cape Verdean so I have to go.

9. Vist one of the seven wonders of the world.

I mean hey, Egypt's on, my bucket list.

10. Try out surfing.

It's only natural that somebody from the Ocean State knows how to surf.

11. Learn a new langauge.

Because my little bit of Portuguese, Spanish and Latin isn't cutting it anymore.

12. Travel to a state that I've never been to before.

Fun fact: I've only been to 17 of the 50 states.

13. Go paddle boarding.

Pretty boring but I've never done it.

14. Go scuba diving.

I'm from the Ocean State so I guess I should see the ocean up close and personal.

15. Learn how to line dance.

There's actually a barn in my state that does line dancing, so this one will definitely get crossed off.

16. Go kayaking.

All this water around me and I haven't done a lot of the water activites.

17. Stay the night in a haunted hotel room.

I bet if I got my friends to come with me, it would be like the Suite Life of Zach and Cody episode, minus the ghost coming out of the wall but you never know.

18. Get my palms read.

Because who doesn't want to know their future.

19. Go to a medium.

Like a medium that can communicate with people that have died.

20. Take a helicopter ride.

Air plane: check Helicopter:....

21. Sleep under the stars.

Because sleeping in a tent is more like glamping than camping

22. Just to try new things in my everyday life.

Whether it's trying a new restaurant, getting something different at my usual restaurants, changing my usual style, going on the scary rides at amusement parks, and bringing things I used to do back into my life now.

Cover Image Credit:

Author's illustration

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I Woke up In The Middle Of The Night To Write About My Fears, They're Worse Than The Dark

One minute I'm thinking about what I want to do after college next thing I know I'm remembering the time I tried talking to a boy and choked on my spit.

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It is one of those nights when I am tired, but for some reason, I can't seem to fall asleep. So, what do I do? I pull out my laptop, and I begin to write. Who knows where it will lead. It could lead to a killer article or something that does not make sense. I mean it is almost 2 A.M. In my mind, that's pretty late.

Anyways, let's do this thing.

Like many people, thoughts seem to pile up in my head at this time. It could be anything from a time when I was younger to embarrassing stories to wondering why I am "wasting" my time somewhere to thoughts about the future. All of these things come at me like a wildfire. One minute I'm thinking about what I want to do after college next thing I know I'm remembering the time I tried talking to a boy and choked on my spit.

The thought that is going through my mind as I write this is about the future. It's about the future of my fears. Let me explain. I have multiple fears. Some of my fears I can hide pretty well, others I am terrible at hiding. My fears may seem silly to some. While others might have the same fears. Shall we start?

1. My career

I don't know where to begin with this one. For as long as I can remember, my consistent dream job has been working in the world of sports, specifically hockey. A career in sports can be and is a challenging thing. The public eye is on you constantly. A poor trade choice? Fans are angry. Your team sucks? "Fans" are threatening to cheer for someone else if you can't get your sh*t together. You can be blamed for anything and everything. Whether you are the coach, general manager, owner, it does not matter. That's terrifying to me, but for some reason, I want to work for a team.

2. My family

Julie Fox

Failing with my family, whether that be the family I was born into or my future family, it terrifies me. I have watched families around me fall apart and I have seen how it has affected them. Relationships have fallen apart because of it. I have heard people talk about how much they hate one of their parents because of what happened. I don't want that.

3. Time

This could be a dumb fear. I'm not sure, but I fear time. With every minute that passes, I am just another minute closer to the end. With every day that passes that I am not accomplishing goals or dreams I have, I am losing precious time. It scares me to think of something horrible like "What if I die tomorrow because of something horrific?" or even worse, "What if I don't make it through today?" It's terrible, I know.

4. Forgetting precious memories

When I was younger, I had brain surgery. It is now much harder for me to remember things. I am truly terrified that I am going to forget things I will want to hold close to me forever, but I won't be able to. I am scared I'll forget about the little things that mean a lot. I'm afraid of forgetting about old memories that may disappear. I'm worried that I'll forget about something like my wedding day. That might seem out of this world, but it's a reality for me.

5. Saying "goodbye"

I hate saying bye. It is one of my least favorite things. Saying bye, especially to people I don't know when I'll see again, is a stab in the heart for me. I love my people so much. I love being around them. I love laughing with them. Thought of never having a hello with them again scares me beyond belief.

6. Leaving places that I love

Alright, let me start off by saying this- it takes a lot for me to love a place. It has to feel like home. It has to make me feel comfortable. It has to be a place I can go to and be myself. Thankfully, I have had and still have multiple places that are like that. I have also had places I could not wait to leave. I think that's why leaving places I love is so hard and something I fear so much. I am afraid I'll never get that place "back", for lack of a better term. I guess, I'm trying to say, it's like a piece of me is leaving as well.




These six things are just the start of my fears. Some of these might seem "dumb" or "ridiculous" to you, but for me, it's my life. These are the things that I think about the most. These are the things that feel like a pit in my stomach. These six things are parts of my life that mean a lot to me.

Cover Image Credit:

Emily Heinrichs

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