It’s been two years now. I have been trying to wrap my head around this thought for a couple of weeks now as this looming date approached. Two years ago. Two years have passed since I lost my best friend. Two years, yet it feels like just yesterday, but also an eternity ago all at once. I cannot describe this feeling. Some days the pain feels so fresh and recent, and others, I can feel the scar there healed over.
There have been times when her laugh echoes fresh in my mind. There have been times when I wish I could plop down on her bed again and tell her about my day and my most recent thoughts and takes on life and the current state of the world. Times when I see her shoes laces hanging up in my room that inspire me to lace up my own running shoes for a run. Sometimes I run to remember, sometimes I run to forget. There have also been times when I feel guilty. Guilty because she doesn’t pop into my mind as often as she used to. Guilty because I haven’t been keeping up with her family like I want to. Guilty because with every day that goes by, our last days together get lost further in the past and I can’t do anything to stop it.
Just yesterday it seems I was riding silently in the car on the way to a hospital in Boulder praying to God with every ounce of hope I had. Just yesterday it seems I got my heart wretched out and my world became questionable. A day that turned into night. A night crisp in my memory. A night I sat on the porch into the wee hours of the night crying my eyes out into the arms of dear friends. Refusing to go to bed in the hopes that it was all just a terrible nightmare. Until the tears became real. Until the tears fell softer. Until the tears became laughter. The laughter of remembering. Remembering what seems like an eternity ago.
An eternity ago I was baking in the dorms with her. An eternity ago we spent hours at City Park swinging and talking about life and the future and our pasts until it was dark out and our fingers and toes were frozen. An eternity ago since we last talked. Our last few conversations consisted of my recent guy updates, coffee talk (not over coffee, about coffee), and just day to day conversations that are forever engraved in my mind.
May 3, 2014. My last words with Jessi over text. Me wishing her luck on her half marathon the following morning and us making dinner plans later in the week. A future that would never come. I often come back to these now cherished texts and voicemails saved on my phone and just stare. Get lost in the dreams of what things could be like today. Then, I come back to the reality and the present. That’s something huge I’ve been overcoming this year: being my present self. Not beating myself up about the past or worrying about the future. It’s days like today though, where I’ll indulge myself to numb the heartache with ilusions for just a brief moment or two…
My dear Jessi,
I miss you. Miss you as much as I did two years ago. I’ve felt guilty for moving on. The stages of grief are silly things. I feel like I’ve been through every one and been around the cycle over and over again. I try to imagine life with you still here. Would we be living together as we planned? Would we be graduating late together? Would you have convinced me to find the courage to change my major? Would you have caught the CrossFit bug with me? Where would I be on this journey I’m currently on of self discovery if I had you to confide in along the way? I want to tell you so much Jessi. There’s still a part missing from my life. I had found a certain friendship with you that was so special and filled my heart. We could talk about anything and everything. I miss our deep conversations about the future and life and love and stress and pain and hurt and happiness. But here I am being selfish again… because you have an eternal bliss and I could never wish to take you from that. So all I can do is to keep chugging along down this path I’m on and hope to tell you all about it someday again.
So here I am today. May 4, 2016. Two years later. Trying to balance between numbing distractions and visiting that place in my heart that’s been vacant for two years. Last year I was naïve to the emotions I would feel. The random tears that fell, the aching pain in my body, the anger I felt as I abruptly left my class not having answers to all the are-you-okay’s and the what-can-I-do-to-help’s… Last year, I found myself trying to be strong and in the end, running from emotions. This year, I have been learning to be honest and true to myself—emotions included. So here’s the deal: there will be tears, there will be moments when I curl up into a ball and sob, there will also be times when I am fine and laughing and wanting to have a good time with my friends. Because I need the balance. I need to acknowledge the pain of my grief and I need to accept the joys of my growth. I have answers this year: “I am not okay, but I will be, “Today is a difficult day for me, but I accept it,” “You can make me laugh,” “You can give me a hug,” “You can share a memory you have of Jessi.”