Emily Catherine Downey. This girl was a legend- before death. Everyone knew who she was. She always had the perfect clothing- the perfect hair. You couldn’t say anything bad about her. She was too nice…too genuine.
When I was 14, I was at the Martinsville Summer Tennis Camp just like I had been every summer before since age 6. I looked up and saw Emily walking toward the camp. I didn’t know how to act around someone that cool. She said hello to me. She had acknowledged me. Just a simple hello and she had already managed to make me feel special. That was the thing about Emily- she made everyone feel special. She made you feel like you mattered.
After a couple of days of camp, Emily’s mother suggested that I stay the night and we could go to camp together the next morning. I was a timid and shy 14 year old. I didn’t have a lot of friends. I was skinny, backwards, and had no idea what a hair straightener was. I spent the night with Emily that night and she painted my nails. She straightened my hair. She watched movies with me. She laughed at my jokes. She kicked me out of the bed and then helped me back up. She introduced me to her dog. We stayed up most of the night. She offered me friendship.
After that, we were inseparable. When I was around Emily, people suddenly started to notice me. They knew who I was. I was “Emily’s best friend.” We always said our friendship was different. We could tell each other things that we couldn’t tell others. We knew everything about each other and yet somehow still loved each other just the same.
We were part of each other’s families. We grew up together. We made it through middle school and part of high school. We made it through countless boys, girl fights, family drama, and myspace fights.
She taught me how to put on makeup. She taught me how to straighten my hair. She taught me how to fit in.
But most importantly, she taught me what true friendship was.
She was my second half. She completed me. Life made sense with her. It didn’t matter what happened, it didn’t matter who liked me, all that mattered was that I had my best friend and we would face it together.
The last time I talked to Emily was Friday, September 8, 2006. She called me when I was on my way home from tennis practice. She knew I had been sick and wanted to see how I was doing. We said our goodbyes and we told each other we loved each other.
Had I known that this would be the last time I would ever talk to Emily… I would have said a lot more. There’s so much I never got to say.
The next morning, September 9, 2006, Emily was involved in an ATV accident. The ATV rolled into a pond and Emily was trapped underneath it. 34 days later…on October 12, 2006- she passed away.
I remember thinking that I would never be able to smile again. I didn’t know how I was ever going to move on with my life without my best friend. Life suddenly seemed so dull…and so fragile.
There’s so much left unsaid between Emily and I. I never got a chance to tell her what she had done for me. How she had changed me. Even after she left…I’ll never be the same. She made me a better person. She taught me invaluable lessons about life and love and appreciating the small things.
I miss her all the time. But now, the longing to speak to her again is channeled into a desire to live everyday with no regrets. To enjoy my life…to do exactly what makes me happy.
Remembering her now isn’t a painful experience. I reflect the time I had with Emily in the most positive light. I am fortunate to have been able to meet someone like Emily Downey.
On October 6, 2013 Emily would have turned 23 years old.
She changed lives from the way she treated people and the things she did for others.
What are you going to do today?