You know those days when something really funny happens and you think to yourself “wow, this person would love this”. So you do the normal thing and reach for your phone, only to remember that your friend is gone. They aren’t here anymore. I have moments like that quite often.

There was this boy, you see. He wasn’t just any boy. This boy, man, he had an appetite for knowledge and life. I remember the first time I ever met him, all I could think to myself was “dear God does this kid ever shut up.” Now I’m sitting here wishing i could have just one more conversation with him. One more time to just squeeze his stupid face.

I remember graduating high school, crying because I didn’t know who or what I wanted to be. I was so upset with myself and he told me to meet him at the lakefront. We sat for awhile and talked about life. Then, he grabbed my hand and looked me in the eyes and said “I know you’re feeling like you’re confused, but if it matters at all, I believe in you.” From that moment on, I knew he was the wild i needed in life, and his heart was filled with good intentions. I felt like every day with him was an adventure. He taught me a lot about myself. I knew part of me loved him, but i didn’t think he was capable of that at this point in his life. He wanted fun and i wanted serious. We had our fair share of ups and downs, a lot of smiles and a whole lot of tears. Mostly because I was trying to help him hang on to someone he didn’t want to be anymore. I wanted him for myself and hated the thought of sharing him with anyone. It’s sad but the bad nights are the ones I remember the most. He’d always slide in a comment that “no one loves him” or “no one cares”, but I loved him, his friends loved him, and we all cared.

The day I got that phone call feels like yesterday. I woke up early for some reason and had texted my friend Allison, “do you ever feel like something is missing? like something just doesn’t feel right?” and she responded saying something completely girly and I just shrugged it off. After i had my breakfast, i saw my phone had tons of “I love you’s” text from people, whom i know love me, but I knew something was wrong. Finally I was in my living room and someone had told me the news. My friend Jaime’s voice cracking as she had to tell me is something that haunts me. Her words, “i don’t want to be the one who has to tell you…” are seared in my memory. I fell to the ground and just called my mom. I couldn’t breathe nor could i think. I felt so defeated. I couldn’t save him. I replay that last night over and over in my head some days still. The last thing he said to me was “you’ll always be my girl right?” and i just rolled my eyes. He was such a brat, but i knew i loved him no matter what he had done. That was the thing about us. I always knew that at the end of the day, he’d have my back and i’d have his.

I find myself asking all the time was there something I could’ve said? Something I could’ve done? The word “suicide” makes me sick to my stomach, even now writing it. I wanted to believe that he was going to make it through everything. I had seen him go through so many things and he had the world by his fingers. He was one of the best humans i have ever met. I always tell people that I feel bad for them because they will never get to meet him. His soul was so genuine. He had a purpose and I wish i could had told him that.

I was so mad at him. I was mad that he felt he couldn’t fight. That might be my selfish side coming out, but I still needed him. I loved him as much as i could, but it never felt like it was enough. His demons always won. But we all still needed him. After he passed, all my “friends” were no where. We alienated each other it felt like, when in reality, we needed each other that much more. I mean, he was the glue that held us all together. I wish i could go back and just hug all of his “boyfriends” and tell them all the great things he told me about them. He was an asshole, but he had heart. That is what we all loved most about him. I regret letting them push me away, because they are the only ones who know how much it hurts. How much it hurts to spend so much time with someone, to have them gone one day. We all expected to hear his obnoxious laugh at the next party. I actually remember going to the first party i was ready to be around people, and i felt like something was just missing. A giant void. I feel like part of my heart will always be missing Tyler, even now. 

A few years later, I had another friend, who was fighting demons i had no idea existed. I remember how in high school we were the friends that would always hang out at parties. We could just sit there and talk about anything and everything. One night, Ryan,  my cousin Jessica and his best friend, Ed and myself  were looking to do something adventurous. Don’t ask me how, but we ended up at Funspot in Kissimmee. Hands down, one of my favorite memories of all time. We could not stop laughing and everything felt right in the world. He always knew when i needed someone to talk to. He knew that any guy i dated i was too good for. He made sure i was reminded of how great i was.

He didn’t live in the same town as me anymore, so he’d always let me know when he was home. One day he texted me asking if i wanted to go to lunch on friday. I said “meet ya there!” and we had so much fun together. At lunch, I told him all about Jeremy and how happy i was with him and how i couldn’t wait for him to meet him. I could tell he was happy for me, because he knew i had finally found someone that loved me, for me. He said he couldn’t wait to meet the dude he made my heart skip a beat. The next day he had asked me to go to dinner, but i had already made other plans and wasn’t able to. He understood.

The next morning after he had asked me to dinner, i was sitting outside my Uncle’s house looking through facebook and saw someone post “RIP Sandy”. I thought to myself, “this has to be some sort of sick joke.” I called his best friend and he had no idea what i was even talking about. My uncle, who is a Lieutenant for the town i live in, made a call. My heart was racing as i sat there and waited to be proven wrong. I was praying to anyone who would listen that it was all just some miscommunication. He looked me in the eye and said, “no, it is your friend, I’m sorry.” I was in such disbelief. How did I not see this? How did i not know my friend was hurting? Was i not paying enough attention? I had called into work to let them know I wouldn’t be coming in then I called Jeremy to tell him what had happened. I remember his voice was confused because he knew i had just had lunch with him. I went to his house and i just cried. I couldn’t believe i had lost another friend.

That’s the thing that adults forget to warn you about when you’re growing up. I found that out the hard way. They don’t warn you how easily people can leave you. Losing people dear to me because they thought they couldn’t keep going. I wish everyday for one more phone call or text that just says “hey whats up” or “wanna meet up for dinner”? I keep waiting for something I know will never happen. After Tyler died, i knew life was short, but the friends i lost in between then only made it worse. I still ask myself if i was a good enough friend or not. Life is so hard sometimes, not just for me, for everyone. I’m grateful that the universe thought i needed them in my life while they where here. Two guys who are embedded in my heart that sometimes missing them gets overwhelming.

I know they’re in some other universe, exploring and living how they always wanted.

I hope wherever they are, they are happy.

I hope they are proud of the person i became.

I hope they know how loved they were and still are.

Tell your friends you love them. No matter how long it’s been or what has happened. Tell them. Because you never know when you won’t be able to. That’s life, but i believe we can make it, if we all hold each other a little closer.

I miss my friends.

I would give anything to have known, how to save a life.

Photo: Brooklyn, New York. June, 2016.