Saturday, July 17, 2004

Je me souviens de toi

Four years ago today, one of my best friends died. He was 23 years old, a victim of depression and alcoholism.
I met him when I was 19, the summer after my freshman year of college. We instantly became friends, and after knowing each other for a few weeks we started dating. He was my first serious boyfriend, and it was with him that I learned all of those things you learn in your first adult relationship. We were decidedly amateurs when it came to communication, trust, and balancing time together and time apart. In a couple of months we went from planning our wedding to absolutely hating each other. I was convinced he was lying to me, and he was convinced I was lying to him. (We were both wrong.) After Christmas, I decided not to return to school for winter semester so I could have some space. On Valentine's Day we broke up.
For over a year we had no contact. The next summer he came home, and because we attended the same church we inevitably ran into each other. After a few tentative and awkward conversations, we talked about what had gone wrong. We talked about our regrets, and we forgave each other for the hurt we had caused. We developed a friendship that was far more understanding and open than our romantic relationship had ever been. He called me for advice about his new girlfriend, we played our guitars together, he taught me how to make pesto. When I decided to go on a mission to France, he was my biggest supporter, and one of the last friends I hugged good-bye.
There's a lot I don't know about what happened in the next several months. I was working hard and going through some enormous challenges on my mission. He and his parents wrote me encouraging letters, and I assumed everything was fine and that he would be around when I got home.
It wasn't. And he wasn't.
In the four years that have passed, I've learned a lot. I've learned to forgive myself for being so caught up in my own life. For being unaware of the absolute hell he must have been living in. For being powerless to help in any way that mattered. I'm grateful for the time we spent together before I left for France and that I got a chance to say the things I said. Not everyone gets that chance.
Most of all, I'm grateful for the peace I have found in my life. I am so blessed with a wonderful husband who is the best friend I could ever ask for, and who makes my life more spectacularly happy than I had ever imagined it would be. I strongly believe that we go on after death, and so I like to think that somehow, my old friend is looking down on me and wishing me well. 

So today, on the anniversary of a terrible event, I remember all that he taught me, and I thank him.

1 comment:

Give it to me straight!

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