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Saying Goodbye Too Soon

Questions and guilt arise when dealing with the unexpected death of a friend.

He had commented on my best friend’s Facebook post the night before. “I love you baby” he said. The next night the message appeared on my home screen; my friend and I had been out late and she hadn’t had the chance to check her Facebook. I clicked onto his Facebook wall to notice that a few friends had written I will miss you.    

I had assumed that he was sent off to rehab. Those kind of things happen a lot around here, but in a community that strives for perfection, families and friends do their best to go on as normal.    

We had not talked in quite a while, and to be honest I don’t remember why. We didn’t go to the same school, and our mutual friends were broad. But even so, I will never forget the way he challenged me, the way he carried himself and the way he knew how to make everything better. He had affected the lives of kids from all over the country and hadn’t even known it.     

Losing a grandparent, a parent or a friend can dramatically change a person’s life. I find it especially difficult to confront as a teenager. As teenagers, we protest against normalcy, push our limits, learn to be outspoken and develop our identities. We also must battle strict guidance, stereotypes, confusion over our futures and the urge to not care. For many high schoolers the cons outweigh the pros, and students seek to escape the pressure through abusing themselves, drugs and alcohol. In fact, “Clinical Depression” by Pat Williams-Boyd estimates that 121 million people “have experienced clinical depression at one time or another.”

Every night since the night he died friends and family have posted comments and photographs on his wall. Some refer to memories they’ll never forget, others are prayers. Some posts are even from strangers, friends of friends, people whose lives were even in the smallest of ways affected by my friend.    

Many of his family members had to find out through Facebook posts, and to them I deeply apologize. I can only imagine the pain, the remorse and the confusion they had to be going through. For some friends like me however, Facebook has kept him alive. His photos have not been taken down, his wall is still activated and his name is still out there. Sometimes when I miss him I scroll through our old conversations. His voice echoes in my head.

I had never gone to a wake before, and I grew to realize the permanence of the situation. The struggle to accept death does not end there. The truth is, no one teaches you how to deal with losing a friend, and no one can teach you how to rid yourself of the guilt that comes afterwards. I keep asking myself why we hadn’t talked in so long and now I am left with many unanswered questions. Could he have been saved?

Why hadn’t a rehabilitation center checked in for follow-ups? There were warning signs, but were they not taken seriously? Did he feel like this was the only way out?

I wish I would have known. Could I have saved him?

It has been over a month since you’ve left us and I miss you so much. You’re in my thoughts, my prayers and my dreams and I will never forget about you.

Losing a friend at any age can be one of the toughest things a person has to go through.

Not one person is original; we are the combined efforts of everybody we have ever known. Rest In Peace “B,” we love you.

Mara Somlo is a junior at Stevenson High School.

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