For years since the loss of Emily, I have claimed that the death changed me. I was a selfish person before her death. I took everything for granted. I imagined myself to be invincible. I didn’t understand life and the pain that sometimes accompanies it.
I had often pondered my life without someone important in it. It hit me hard one day after watching A Walk to Remember. I thought to myself, what would I do if I lost someone important?
I didn’t have a significant other at the time and I valued my friendship with Emily above almost any other relationship in my life. Whenever I imagined my future, it always involved her.
I saw us attending college together. I saw us in each other’s weddings. I saw our children playing together. I saw us growing old together…being there for each other in all aspects of life.
I had imagined loss, yes. But I never imagined losing her.
When the thought occurred to me one day after watching that dismal film, I began to panic. I was certain that if Emily were to ever leave, I would not survive. Call me dramatic, but I was convinced that a life without Emily was not a life worth living.
Before Emily came along, life to me was a series of grey and black. Of course it would be misleading to suggest that I had a terrible childhood. I had and still have a wonderful family and I grew up on a small farm in small town Indiana. I was able to experience several vacations and develop an abundance of warm memories surrounded by those I love.
But then I met Emily. Suddenly, I felt as if I belonged. Life became luminescent. She saw something in me that I still have trouble seeing in myself. I was convinced I had a myriad of flaws judging by the lack of friendships I had up to this point. But she never seemed to notice them. She took me under her wing and accepted me at a time when I felt like such an outcast.
She encouraged me to be the kind of person that I wanted others to be to me.
And then she was gone.
I was never given the chance to tell her everything that she had done for me. Death doesn’t play by the rules. It will visit when you least expect it and no matter how much you plead; it will take them.
For years, I felt as if I was stuck in limbo. Each day was another day that I had lived without her. And yet, I felt as if the world around me was still moving as I was stuck in grief.
I don’t know what finally caused me to wake up. One day, it occurred to me that life hadn’t stopped. I was the one who had stopped.
It also occurred to me that Emily wasn’t coming back. And no matter how many tears I shed, or letters I wrote, or prayers I said- she was gone and I was here.
And because of that, I needed to find a way to cope.
So I did. I became the type of person that Emily always believed I was.
As the brilliant John Green once said…
“Death doesn’t change you. It reveals you.”