He committed suicide. Sixteen years of living and I had yet to experience the death of someone so close to me. We were inseparable. We did everything from launching firecracker-propelled model airplanes to getting detention for breaking the sacred rule of no laughing in the classroom. After years of being friends, a long since forgotten argument and two accounts of excessive pride fueled the gavel that brought our friendship to a grinding halt. We talked very little after that. Our encounters were marked by palpable tension and polite conversation that one usually reserves for a person they hardly know. And in high school he did it.
I was so unprepared for the abruptness of death. The pang of guilt and regret were so overwhelming that I could hardly think of anything else. I spent long hours alone and locked myself up with my thoughts. In such dark hours, it’s common to gain a new perspective of life, though this perspective is often weak and quickly retracts back into the depths of living. Mine, however, was much stronger.
Ironically, death and even a near death experience can inspire a renewed enthusiasm for life. They say you never know what you have until it’s gone. Well I think you should know. Life isn’t a guarantee, and I’ve spent the majority of my life living for the future, for the chicken that hasn’t hatched, and neglecting the present. Thoughts that used to begin with, “I wonder if I should…” or “I wonder if I’m good enough to….” now begin with a quick reminder, “I could die tomorrow.” Bravery soars and I can suddenly do anything.
With thoughts like this, the important things in life are always right there on the surface, precisely where they’re supposed to be. Love, happiness, and compassion are never buried by schedules and miscalculated priorities. The professional panhandler begs for life, but is invisible until he dies. That is the man in the present that what I believe gives me the ability to see. At the end of the road, I want to be able to look at everything I’ve done and smile because I know I gave it everything I had. Most of all, I want to forget the meaning of the word regret.
Our friendship should never have ended the way it did. Things could have been different. Looking back, it’s easy to say that I was ignorant. But looking forward, it’s equally easy to say that I won’t ever let that happen again. It’s because of this that I believe in governing my life by realizing who you could lose–anybody, at any time, at any place.
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