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.”

“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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Does What Happens During Spring Break Stay There?

"our most used phase was 'no gracias' "

Your spray tan is probably fading, you might be slightly hung-over still and you are for sure not ready to take that Biology test on Friday.

Well, it’s the Monday after spring break and most of us look more drained than we did when the break started. But, hey that’s what spring break is all about.

A break from school but not a break from our social lives. Spring break is just a sneak peek of what our summer will look like- without the fake tan of course.

Some of us will be on cruises this summer, partying on Florida beaches or will be hard at work at an internship. Let’s just pretend everyday of summer will be as adventurous as our nights out in Mexico.

After endless tequila shots and breakfast burritos, it’s time to hit the gym harder than we did pre-spring break.

You might be suffering from a cold right now and trying to get your immunity back up after sleeping for less than five hours a night for four days in a row. Eat some oranges, take your Dayquil and be ready for Saturday night.

Even though we might dread classes starting again, we are secretly relieved to be reunited with all our friends in one place. Plus, getting back into our routine and gain a bit of a social life is always a good thing too.

If you had a successful break, you probably have random people added on your Snapchat, have questionable messages from your best friends and some blurred out memories of you living your best life.

Some of us might even be thankful to safely be back in the United States without the fear of losing Ray Bans, passports, IDs and dignity.

My friends and I thought in Mexico we would be saying “uno mas” more, but instead, our most used phase was “no gracias.” As much as we enjoyed meeting new friends, sipping on pina coladas and the endless amount of carne esada tacos- we are happy to be back home again.

I’ve never been more thankful to be safe with my friends and recalling memories of our fun girls trip out of the country.

We all have memories we will never forget or fully remember, but that’s just part of college.

Cover Image Credit: Angelica Catusco

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Stories From A Broken Girl

This was written sophomore year of high school when I felt this way.

I have too many lines to memorize and I can’t keep up.

I have way too many voices in my head telling me what to do, what to say next.

I don’t know how people can’t see me losing my mind; it’s so obvious.

I can’t understand it. Not a single person has seen all of me; not one; because sometimes I don’t think I’m ready for that.

I feel so hostile and I can’t turn it off. I have no control over me.

I feel unrest and all I can do is stress, but at least you are so entertained by the words I'm saying.

I speak too many stories to keep us entertained and you seem amused.

I can’t stop speaking and you can’t stop believing; I can’t stop because you stay with me when most times everyone leaves.

I tell them when I know they will make us feel better. Sometimes anything will, but that doesn’t bother me.

I thrive under pressure, and when you need me.

And I am 10,000 miles under the sea and my head just might explode, but I like to not think about that.

Distracting you is no easy task, but I'm up for the challenge.

I can be your poet. I can be your reality. I can be your entertainment.

I can be all you need. Watching you listen so intently makes me think maybe we are both worth it; we are both worth saving.

I like to yell and scream, and sometimes I can’t breathe.

I spin and I spin and I drive myself crazy to get the right words to speak.

And I don’t get how you can still watch me. How can you still listen to me?

I don’t understand, and perhaps I never will, but that’s fine by me as long as you stay.

Don’t stop listening.

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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