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Open Letter To My Dead Best Friend

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Dearest friend,

You have been dead for over two years now.

I can’t say it has been easy learning to live without you. Heading into year three, I can say I have started to make real progress. I can talk about your death without crying. I can look people in the eye and tell them how you died. And now I finally feel like I can be honest with you. Okay, not with you per se, but I can be honest with myself about you.

I’ve come to terms with the fact that I will never see you again. It was incredibly difficult to reconcile my desire to see you again with my belief that there is no afterlife. I used to look for you everywhere, hoping that you were watching over me and sending me signs. But I don’t need you to linger anymore. I am finally at ease with your passing.

With this acceptance, I am also trying to let go of the guilt from the promises I made and subsequently broke in the wake of your death. I have come home without visiting your grave. I quit the Peace Corps application process. And I think we both know that any attempts I made to be vegan or even vegetarian in your honor were ill-fated. After much internal struggle, I now believe you never would have asked me to do those things in the first place.
Deeper than that, I have been trying to absolve the guilt attached to the things I did to you when you were alive. This includes but is not limited to, renouncing our mutual love of Sailor Moon, laughing at the suggestion we go to the 2003 Winter Formal together, and downplaying the closeness of our friendship. I am incredibly sorry that I was never as proud of you as you were of me.

It shouldn’t have been a secret that I loved you for being more than a friend and closer than family. While I was completely satisfied with what I thought was the ideal platonic male/female relationship, I know others thought that we could be perfect for each other. How serendipitous it would have been. In a rom-com, we would have come together after enduring a series of hilarious but heartbreaking miscommunications. Then, in the closing scene, we would have realized that it all started when we were babies in a bathtub together. Roll the credits.

It’s not to say that romantic love would have been better or worse than what we had. What I’m trying to say is that I will never have what we had together with anyone else. Even though one day I will have friendships that eclipse the duration of ours, no one else can precede my earliest memories like you do. I can relate to other people who grew up with divorced parents, but you and I went through that together. Losing you left me with a phantom limb of our shared childhood.

It pains me to admit that I think about you more now than I did when you were alive. I stare into your negative space and fear that one day I will go twenty-four hours without pausing to remember you. As the sound of your voice grows more distant, leaving parts of you behind seems inevitable. I no longer remember all the steps to our secret handshake. I let your tense slide from present to past and even past perfect, the one used for actions that have been completed before others take place.

Selfishly, one of the worst realizations is that you are only the first of the big losses I will face in my life. It’s not just our grandparents who look older these days: our parents no longer seem as invincible as they once did. I’ve also realized that you might not be the only friend who dies young or unexpectedly. And as cliché as it sounds, I’ve lost my sense of adolescent immortality. I know it could just as easily be me.

While it is frightening to think of what comes next, somehow, in your own way, you’ve prepared me for it. You were my first friend and my first eulogy. I think it would make you, the eternal optimist that you were, happy to know that your friendship keeps making me a better, stronger person. You showed me that I can function in the face of tragedy. You taught me the vocabulary of grief so I can comfort others when they need it. I never would have asked for it to be this way, but if this is what I can take from it, I will.

So, dearest friend, that’s all I have to share for now. I’ll raise a glass for your twenty-fifth birthday this summer, and, as always, I’ll keep you in my thoughts.

Love,
Layne TC mark

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    • Patrick

      This was actually really touching.  Good for you for finding the silver lining.

    • epilepticteen

      extremely touching

    • Lindsay

      What a beautiful tribute to your friend.

    • ela_kaimo

      I can't imagine how that must feel. This really touched me.

    • Bimemi

      That was lovely and heart breaking.

    • Jane

      “Losing you left me with a phantom limb of our shared childhood”….beautiful!

    • Scytle

      very well written, brought a lot of feelings to the surface.

    • http://fastfoodies.org Briana

      my best friend died three years ago this september.

      “It pains me to admit that I think about you more now than I did when you
      were alive. I stare into your negative space and fear that one day I
      will go twenty-four hours without pausing to remember you.”

      really got at the gnarled part of loss, there. good for you for not being afraid to admit the selfish and less-than-noble parts of dealing with death that are so truly human.

      • Layne

        I'm sorry that you had to go through losing your best friend. For me, the thing about the grief is it hasn't gone away. It just changes shapes. It's not so much that I've gotten over his death as I've learned to sit alongside his absence. I wish you the best in learning to live without your best friend.

    • jenna

      this gave me chills.

      • jenna

        i also lost a close friend 3 years ago now and there is not a day that goes by that i don't think of him. i hate to tell you that you never stop feeling the void; but you channel it positively (as it seems you are doing!)

    • dj

      Thank you so much for posting this. I lost one of my oldest friends two months ago, he would be twenty-two in August.  I'm still so angry with him. This has helped…it shows me that there is a light at the end of this very dark tunnel. I will be sharing this with everyone I see today.

    • Anikolas Ordorica

      this is amazing. The two year anniversary of my own friend's passing was a little under a month ago. I truly empathize with you and commend you for your ability to articulate your loss.

    • http://twitter.com/anxisancti Epiphany T

      So beautiful. Stunning. Thank you for sharing. Sincerely. 

      Just wow.

    • Determined Hera

      It hurts that everyone is so nice to this author and so incredibly mean to people like Tessah, who talks about stuff that's painful and real like alcoholism. Sure, she can be flippant and sarcastic. But both writers are unearthing painful emotions through their words. 

      It's just surprising, the reactions that people have. I wish folks weren't so quick to hop on the judgment wagon & be nasty.

    • donnerunbaiser

      i have not yet lost a friend but this article still made me cry. as insightful and illuminating as can be for something that you need to experience to understand.

    • uybn4
    • http://twitter.com/3llen Ellen Grace

      Thank you for this. I just lost my best friend three months ago unexpectedly. I keep waiting for it to get easier and it hasn't thus far. One of the things I fear is something you mentioned — going 24 hours without thinking of them. As difficult as it is to read (and write) things like this, it soothes as a reminder that there are others that have gone through, will go through, what you are going through. Knowing you and your close remaining friends aren't alone is such a big help.

    • http://valentine-kitchenson.tumblr.com valentine-kitchenson

      my creys!

    • Siouxsie

      *bawls*

    • Hollysbigbrother4life

      i lost my little sister and i cry myself every night. i cant think, talk, eat, do anything with out crying because of how much i miss her. this helped me out very much. thank you.

    • http://twitter.com/yuramint stacy k

      i’m so sorry for your loss. i cried while reading this.. thank you for sharing.

    • Kane.

               I haven’t lost my best friend in death, but we’ve broken up upon what was at one point, the most magical thing that has happened in my life.
           Being told to move on and that what happened cannot be undone or fixed brings fourth more of my frustration after reading this.
             Here i am with my best friend, very much alive and well with me having the chance to actually still cherish her, it’s just the matter that she no longer wishes to speak to me or acknowledge me in her life.

      help.

    • Jordan - Guest

      I just lost my best friend 2 1/2 weeks ago. As everyone has said, it’s extremely hard. I read this and I feel like I am reading something that I would write myself. It gives me hope to know that others are making it through because at this point I feel like I can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel.

    • Mary

      Your words resonate with me. On December 6th I lost the man I was with for 10 years.  I’m paralyzed in many ways.  I can only hope that someday I can reflect upon him the way you so beautifully articulated your love. 
      Thank you.

    • Lewis

      Thank you so much for sharing. I have been without my best friend for almost a year now and much of what you have written here feels all too familiar. It feels good to know other people have gone through what I am faced with everyday with hope and courage. I’m sure I will return to this post to help me through the darkest times. Thank you

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