When I was 16 and a junior in high school, I lost a friend to brain cancer. I’ll spare you the sob story about why she shouldn’t have been taken so soon or why cancer sucks, because we all know this. Cancer is awful, and it’s even worse when a child is affected by it. My friend originally had cancer as a child, was cured, and then it came back during our sophomore year. Of course that’s not fair that this girl lived half of her life battling a disease she didn’t deserve.
It took me a while, but eventually, I learned a lot from loosing a friend so soon.
1. Always speak up
My friend meant so much to me, and although I only knew her for four short years, she left a lasting impact on my life. She was honestly one of the most caring, sweetest, and funniest individuals I’ve ever met. She made me laugh so hard that our teachers had to split us up. She gave me strength, as she shared her previous cancer stories and as we auditioned for our first musical together. During her last weeks, many friends went to her house to see her one last time. The Saturday before she passed away, her family threw her a huge going away party. I had prior commitments, and did not make it to the party. After hearing of her passing that next Thursday, I can honestly say that the one thing I regret most in life is that I never said goodbye. If I could go back and do it all again, I would have told her what she meant to me. At the time, I couldn’t think of anything to say, but now I have millions of things I wish I would have said. When given the chance to speak what’s on your mind, never pass it up. You never know if it will be your last chance.
2. Live life to the fullest
I know this sounds cliché, but you never know when your last day will be. For my friend, her days ended much sooner than she would have liked. Quite frankly, it ended much sooner than any of us would have liked. I’d like to think that if she had the chance to look back at her entire life, she’d be proud of everything she accomplished in her short timeframe. I want the same for myself, so it’s important that I make each day count.
3. Life isn’t perfect
Sorry to burst your bubble, but life is going to throw you endless curve balls. I’ve decided that I want to be standing there ready to catch them. Before losing my friend, my life was honestly picture perfect. I lived in a bubble where everything was unflawed and I would skip through life without a care. My bubble shattered into pieces that day, but I needed it. I needed to learn that I can’t ride a roller coaster that only goes up. I’ve become much stronger and more aware because of this.
4. Community matters
It’s been four years since she’s passed away, and every time her birthday or the day of her passing rolls around, our community comes together to support one another. Although it’s not for good reasons, a death like this brings unlike people closer. It’s times like this when you learn to appreciate everyone around you. In a time when you feel so empty it’s important to be with those who make you feel full. Find the community where you feel at home and you’ll never truly be alone.