Too Close To Home

Too Close To Home

The life of the dead is in the memory of the living.
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Every day, someone dies. Someone's cousin, brother, best friend, parent, or coworker dies. Some might say that death is inevitable. But does that change the way we feel whenever we get the news that someone we know and love has died? I don't think that any of us can really wrap our minds around why bad things happen to good people, and why God takes those we love from us sooner than we would have hoped. But some things aren't meant for us to fully comprehend.

This past weekend, I got a better understanding of how God knows exactly what he is doing and that he always has a plan. This past weekend, my college community and my home community were shattered. A friend of my older brother was senselessly murdered, about 30 feet from my front door. He was not only my friend's brother, but he was a Phi Delta fraternity member, Bulldog Burger employee, his parents' son, my next door neighbor, and a good person. While I could not imagine what his family is enduring right now and over the days and weeks to come, I do know that God is with his family. I could not imagine life without my brothers, and I hope that I never have to live without them. But I know that if his family can make sense of this tragedy, they can handle just about anything that life throws at them. I don't think that God's plan for Joseph was to be killed at 21 years old with his whole life ahead of him. I think that he was in the wrong place at the wrong time. I think that Joseph's family knows what true pain and heartache is and they will be stronger people for that.

"Death is not the opposite of life, but a part of it." - Haruki Murakami

To me, Joseph was just the guy that I passed sometimes walking to class who always had the cool Ray Bans, the waiter serving the people at the restaurant down the street, and my friend's older brother. But now, to me, he is the guy who didn't get to live his life to the fullest for no reason. He's the guy who died at 21 because that's how cruel the world we live in is. He's the guy whose family will have to learn how to go through life without him in it. But just because he died doesn't mean his story doesn't live on.

Our college community is suffering the loss of a roommate, a bright student, a classmate, a coworker, a neighbor, a fraternity brother, and a friendly face. Our home community is suffering the loss of a brother, a high school buddy, a son, a cousin, and a genuine person. The fact that this happened so close to me makes it even more surreal, in a way.

Every day, we go through life making plans of what we are going to do when we get out of school. We are saddened when we hear of classmates and friends dying throughout the years, but do we ever really think that we could be those people? My friends and I had planned to go to the house right across the street from where Joseph died. Before we left, my friend wanted to charge her phone for a few minutes. Shortly after we sat on my couch, we heard the gunshot. Had her phone not died, we could have been too close. I know that God has a reason for everything, and this was an apparent example.

I did not know Joseph Tillman, but I know that he has impacted my life and the lives of many other people in our communities. Whether it be by his life or death, Joseph teaches us to appreciate life and all of its moments, because life is a precious gift that can't be replaced once it's gone.

In loving memory of Joseph Tillman (1995-2016).


Cover Image Credit: Facebook

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I'm The Girl Without A 'Friend Group'

And here's why I'm OK with it

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Little things remind me all the time.

For example, I'll be sitting in the lounge with the people on my floor, just talking about how everyone's days went. Someone will turn to someone else and ask something along the lines of, "When are we going to so-and-so's place tonight?" Sometimes it'll even be, "Are you ready to go to so-and-so's place now? Okay, we'll see you later, Taylor!"

It's little things like that, little things that remind me I don't have a "friend group." And it's been like that forever. I don't have the same people to keep me company 24 hours of the day, the same people to do absolutely everything with, and the same people to cling to like glue. I don't have a whole cast of characters to entertain me and care for me and support me. Sometimes, especially when it feels obvious to me, not having a "friend group" makes me feel like a waste of space. If I don't have more friends than I can count, what's the point in trying to make friends at all?

I can tell you that there is a point. As a matter of fact, just because I don't have a close-knit clique doesn't mean I don't have any friends. The friends I have come from all different walks of life, some are from my town back home and some are from across the country. I've known some of my friends for years, and others I've only known for a few months. It doesn't really matter where they come from, though. What matters is that the friends I have all entertain me, care for me, and support me. Just because I'm not in that "friend group" with all of them together doesn't mean that we can't be friends to each other.

Still, I hate avoiding sticking myself in a box, and I'm not afraid to seek out friendships. I've noticed that a lot of the people I see who consider themselves to be in a "friend group" don't really venture outside the pack very often. I've never had a pack to venture outside of, so I don't mind reaching out to new people whenever.

I'm not going to lie, when I hear people talking about all the fun they're going to have with their "friend group" over the weekend, part of me wishes I could be included in something like that. I do sometimes want to have the personality type that allows me to mesh perfectly into a clique. I couldn't tell you what it is about me, but there is some part of me that just happens to function better one-on-one with people.

I hated it all my life up until very recently, and that's because I've finally learned that not having a "friend group" is never going to be the same as not having friends.

SEE ALSO: To The Girls Who Float Between Friend Groups

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Saying You "Don't Take Political Stances" IS A Political Stance

All you're doing by saying this is revealing your privilege to not care politically, and here's why that's a problem.

bethkrat
bethkrat
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I'm sure all of us know at least one person who refuses to engage in political discussions - sure, you can make the argument that there is a time and a place to bring up the political happenings of our world today, but you can't possibly ignore it all the time. You bring up the last ridiculous tweet our president sent or you try to discuss your feelings on the new reproductive regulation bills that are rising throughout the states, and they find any excuse to dip out as quickly as possible. They say I don't talk about politics, or I'm apolitical. Well everyone, I'm here to tell you why that's complete bullsh*t.

Many people don't have the luxury and privilege of ignoring the political climate and sitting complacent while terrible things happen in our country. So many issues remain a constant battle for so many, be it the systematic racism that persists in nearly every aspect of our society, the fact that Flint still doesn't have clean water, the thousands of children that have been killed due to gun violence, those drowning in debt from unreasonable medical bills, kids fighting for their rights as citizens while their families are deported and separated from them... you get the point. So many people have to fight every single day because they don't have any other choice. If you have the ability to say that you just don't want to have anything to do with politics, it's because you aren't affected by any failing systems. You have a privilege and it is important to recognize it.

Martin Luther King Jr. once said, "history will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people."

We recognize that bad people exist in this world, and we recognize that they bring forth the systems that fail so many people every single day, but what is even more important to recognize are the silent majority - the people who, by engaging in neutrality, enable and purvey the side of the oppressors by doing nothing for their brothers and sisters on the front lines.

Maybe we think being neutral and not causing conflict is supposed to be about peacekeeping and in some way benefits the political discussion if we don't try to argue. But if we don't call out those who purvey failing systems, even if it's our best friend who says something homophobic, even if it's our representatives who support bills like the abortion ban in Alabama, even if it's our president who denies the fact that climate change is killing our planet faster than we can hope to reverse it, do we not, in essence, by all accounts of technicality side with those pushing the issues forward? If we let our best friend get away with saying something homophobic, will he ever start to change his ways, or will he ever be forced to realize that what he's said isn't something that we can just brush aside? If we let our representatives get away with ratifying abortion bans, how far will the laws go until women have no safe and reasonable control over their own bodily decisions? If we let our president continue to deny climate change, will we not lose our ability to live on this planet by choosing to do nothing?

We cannot pander to people who think that being neutral in times of injustice is a reasonable stance to take. We cannot have sympathy for people who decide they don't want to care about the political climate we're in today. Your attempts at avoiding conflict only make the conflict worse - your silence in this aspect is deafening. You've given ammunition for the oppressors who take your silence and apathy and continue to carry forth their oppression. If you want to be a good person, you need to suck it up and take a stand, or else nothing is going to change. We need to raise the voices of those who struggle to be heard by giving them the support they need to succeed against the opposition.

With all this in mind, just remember for the next time someone tells you that they're apolitical: you know exactly which side they're on.

bethkrat
bethkrat

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