I’m not sure where to begin; I go back and forth from being heartbroken, to scared, to confused, to guilty, to angry, and then wishing I could just flip a switch in order not to feel anything for a while. I was on my way to see Luke Bryan and Florida-Georgia Line when I first found out over Facebook; not wanting to get emotional before the concert, I shut my phone off and just focused on what was going on around me, yet I knew in my heart that whatever I would find out after that was not going to be good. The four hours in between before and after were incredible, but I’ll get to that shortly.
It was confirmed on the drive home, and I stayed awake until four o’clock in the morning crying, listening to music, pacing, and reaching out to other people. In those moments, it was like I was floating in some kind of time warped space, transitioning to what I thought was a dream to the heart-wrenching reality. I admit that I do not deal with death very well, mostly because I’m not sure how to deal with it “appropriately”, if there is such a thing. I’ve never lost a friend in this way before, but I realize that I’m not the only one. He and I were not the best of friends, but we were friends nonetheless. He called me “pal” and treated me like he would treat anyone else: with love, respect, and a damn good sense of humor. The best part about him was that he was completely comfortable with who he was and had no trouble owning it. This summary does not do the memories justice, but I’m experiencing so many thoughts and feelings that it’s hard to articulate them.
I didn’t want to break down right then and there, so I threw myself into the music and the experience. I don’t know if my friend was a fan of Luke Bryan or not, but he did love Country music. When Luke started to sing “Country Girl (Shake it for me)” I immediately just let go and danced like a crazy person. At one point, I got up on a chair and didn’t give a crap that I was standing in front of another person (I’m petite, so I felt like I had a legitimate excuse, aside from having a little too much to drink). And then when the rain began to fall and soak most of us in the process, I thought “this is what truly living is, isn’t it? Doing what you love, with the people you love, regardless of the circumstances. From what I know and have heard from others, that’s exactly what he did.
I can only hope that he would have been either smiling or laughing at me in this situation.
And is in these moments that I wish there was a manual for grief. My heart feels torn between wanting to cry ridiculously ugly, gut busing tears at the unfairness of it all and trying to be strong for those that might have known him better than I did. . I don’t know what’s wrong, and I don’t know what’s right. I wish I could do it freely, rather than staying up all night for multiple days on end because my brain won’t quiet down.
But this is not about comparisons or what is justified versus what’s not. This is about coming together and celebrating an amazing person, whether you were close to him or not. That’s the beauty of of going to a small, private Catholic high school: if you don’t personally know someone, you know of them. Sooner or later, you want to know them.
This may be the first time that I’ve experienced a passing of someone I care for, but this is not the case for my high school community. About five years ago, a similar accident took place. In the midst of trying to come together, I remember somebody had written on a chalkboard in one of my classes: “Remember guys, we’re a family.”
There is so much more I want to write about, enough where I think that I’ll split this into multiple posts. What I have written here is only a small fraction of the words and emotions that I’ve scribbled down in my private journal. As I’ve said many times before, writing is my therapy, and I don’t expect this to be the best thing that I have ever written.we’re all hurting and angry and shell-shocked in some way. Each one of us has different ways of coping, and I’m just not sure what mine are yet.