We all experience loss through out our life, at different altitudes and at different parts of each of our lives. Some losses aren't as significant as others, where some change our entire lives in a split second. No loss is easy, despite how others react to it. We all handle things differently.

I think one of the hardest parts about a loss is feeling like we could have done something to stop it or change it. Loss comes with a million "what-ifs". In some cases you feel as if you are partly responsible because you didn't do anything to change the situation before it arose. But the truth is, in most cases, you can't. Loss is inevitable and more than likely there was nothing you could do to stop it. I was so hard on myself after losing my dad because I felt like I should have known earlier that he was sick, or I should have known that something wasn't going right. I blamed myself for his passing. At 13, that's really all I could do. I didn't know much better, despite everyone telling me I couldn't have done anything. The loss of a parent at such a young age is something I never in a million years would have imagined happening to me. And when it did, I was completely devastated and couldn't imagine making it this far without him. But here I am at 19 almost 6 years later, living a very, very happy life. At only 49 my dad passed away, making the phrase "only the good die young" very very true. 49 is very young to pass away. My first funeral was my dads. But this did not prepare me for having to face the loss of someone much, much younger.

Struggling with this loss for many years, my grades began to drop and my motivation to move forward in life went with it. The second semester of my junior year my mom saved my life. She sent me to a residential therapeutic boarding school in the middle of basically nowhere in Maine. Here I met some of my (hopefully) lifelong friends and turned my life around for the better. I met people who I never would have engaged with before being sent away, because of what they came in for. I wasn't just surrounded by people who were depressed, I met people who struggled with self harm, drugs and alcohol, and really every kind of thing teenagers can struggle with growing up. One of the most influential people I have ever met, was at this school because of her battle with drugs. This has completely changed the way I see people when I first meet them. You should never judge a book by its cover, especially because everyone is fighting their own battles.

I met this girl on the first day at this new school. She was so bubbly and upbeat, which was shocking to me since this place seemed like a jail. She lit up the room with her laugh and smile, both of which were so friendly and welcoming. That night she heard me crying from the top bunk and whispered up to me (talking was prohibited without a staff present, but I'm so thankful she broke this rule for me), "It's going to be okay, it gets easier I promise." I unfortunately didn't get to spend much time with her at the beginning of my stay, because she moved up to the second part of the place pretty soon after I got there. Granted, she had been there for much longer than I, but we did get to spend a few months together later that year. When I moved up to live at the farmhouse is when she really touched my heart and changed my life. She was absolutely beautiful, inside and out. She could change the way you looked at the world in a matter of minutes. Her brain was so full of knowledge, and her heart so full of love and compassion towards others (and everything.) She was wicked smart, and could hold her stand in an argument for as long as necessary. They way she viewed life was unlike anyone I had ever met before. It was beautiful. Watching her move through her program to come out such a strong person was truly inspiring. If it wasn't for her, I don't know if I would be here or be the person I am today. She graduated from the school in July, and we reconnected in August when I came home shortly after. We kept in contact here and there, but our busy lives mixed with our distance between Boston and Philadelphia kept us from getting to spend much (or any) time together face to face. She was my go-to person when it came to shitty boyfriends or school advice. She seemed to always know what to say.

I took a year off between graduating high school and heading off to WVU. In my time off I took a few community college classes and held a few full and part time jobs. The spring of the following year I was working full time in a daycare. I was a few days into my new full time position there and very busy with everything going on. We had made plans for me to come up and visit, but because of my job I didn't get much time off. I was sitting at lunch one day and checking my social media as my little ones around babbled on in their nonsense language. As I scrolled down instagram I saw a post of a picture of my friend, not posted by her. The caption was Rest In Peace, and talked a little bit about her. I almost brushed it off until I saw yet another post about her. So I messaged the kid who put it up asking if this was some kind of wack joke and what was going on. Unfortunately his response was not what I had expected to hear. He said to me, "I'm sorry, I really wish it wasn't. She's gone." I completely froze. There was absolutely no way. How could she have died?! She was doing so well after completing the program, there was no way she fell back into her old habits. I tried so hard to think back and remember our conversations; she seemed like she was doing so well. I left work that day in utter shock. On February 25th, I received the news that I had lost my best friend. At just a mere 17 years old, she was gone. We had made plans to travel the world going to music festivals. We were going to hike the Pacific Crest Trail together. And now she was gone.

Nothing could have prepared me for this. Nothing could have prepared anyone who knew her for this. She was an absolute light in this world. Like they say, only the good die young.

May you forever rest in peace, my beautiful soul. May you forever watch over your family, friends and loved ones. And may we forever carry on your beautiful legacy.