I haven’t posted anything in a what feels like forever. I’ve had nothing of value to say but this time of year always brings about something within myself that needs to be discussed.
Two years ago tomorrow (July 20th) I lost a friend. I was only able to know this man for about two years before he passed away but I have always been a firm believer in time meaning nothing compared to memories and how someone touched your life.
Ben was one of a kind. You would never find him in a disagreement with anyone. He went with the flow and I never knew him to complain, ever. About a week before he passed, I took him and a few other friends to my cottage in northern Michigan and we had the greatest time and I will forever be blessed to know that was one of his last memories on earth.
I think the hardest part in all of this is what happened following his death. It seemed like his friends who had known him longer than I had were acting childish and rude, but grief does strange things to everyone. At his funeral, one of his close friends approached me with a lot of anger and claimed that my sadness was inappropriate for the amount of time he had been in my life compared to most everyone else there. I’ve never understood how someone could tell another human how to grieve. I did the stupid thing and let these unkind words alter the way I continued my process of grieving and because of that, I now carry the outcome of unresolved thoughts and feelings. I began reliving the events that followed his death to examine my emotional reactions, so much so that another layer of guilt showed up to the party. I began reliving the two years I spent with him, searching for ways to place tangible value on our friendship as justification. I began reliving the night he died.
I dropped Ben off at his house that night and i’ll never fully shake the feelings that surround knowing that. I’ve always believed that our amount of time on earth is predetermined and that’s always brought the comforting “It was their time” thought. I found myself questioning my own beliefs the moment everything hit too close to home. Could I have prevented this? What if we hadn’t continued our night after dropping him off and had brought him with us? The aforementioned sensible part of my mind knows it, though tragically short, was his time. But the rest of me can’t distance myself enough to alleviate the guilt.
I think the most important lesson I found is that it isn’t about the amount of time, but rather how someone touched your life and the memories you were able to make. My best piece of advice from all of this is in times of tragedy to allow everyone to feel what they need to feel and to stick together, silently if need be. Don’t ever tell someone how to grieve because it has the ability to haunt and tarnish memories. Tell the people you love that you love them because everyone has their own stopwatch and none of us know when those final seconds will tick down. As Ben left my car that night, he came to my window and said “I’ll see you tomorrow.”
Ben, I miss you and I love you.