I remember the day I found out that my good friend Derek had died. I was doing homework and simultaneously talking on the internet. My friend Kyle broke the news to me. He asked me if I was sitting down, I said that I was, and he told me that, not two hours ago, Derek Jay Lowery had died. I started crying – hard. I couldn’t, and wouldn’t believe it. I would not.
I immediately reached toward my phone and called his number. The ringing stopped, which startled me. His mother answered the phone. Right then and there I should have realized that this was a bad sign, however, I pushed forward. Trying to keep the tears out of my voice, I asked if Derek was available. I made Derek’s own mother tell me that her son had just died. She was shocked, of course. I couldn’t even tell if she was crying. “Something… happened…” she started. I lost it. I started crying openly on the phone. She told me that he was very sick and they took him to the hospital. The doctors said he’d be fine but as he was dressing back into his normal clothes his heart stopped. She then asked me to call his friends and let them know, and I assured her I would.
The next two hours were some of the hardest and most painful of my life. I am certain that I traumatized every person that I called. I bawled plainly on the phone letting all of his friends know what had happened. Looking back, I wish I could have pulled myself together for their sakes. They should not have found out about Derek that way.
So what do I believe in? I believe in the afterlife. I have to. I cannot honestly believe that the radiant life of Derek was perpetually snuffed out. I believe that I will get to see Derek again someday and I believe he is happy now, wherever he is. I believe in love and friendship, and I believe it is far reaching and everlasting. I believe in hope.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.