My friend and classmate, Julie, died on 15th November 2015. I found out because I had been idly scrolling my Facebook timeline, sipping a Cappuccino at ArtCaffe, feeling posh and typing away frantically at my computer doing important things. A chill ran down my spine when I saw the RIP message, but I dismissed it and decided to talk to the person who had posted the message to ask for more information.
I was sure it was a mistake.
Of course it wasn’t, and even as I attended her memorial service and held back tears as we sang ‘Amazing Grace’, and tried to say hello to some of her friends, I still felt like I could text her on Whatsapp and tell her that this whole thing is pretty lame and when can we finally do our wine date and moan about it?
I scrolled her Instagram and looked at her pictures. I read everything she wrote on Facebook and googled her name over and over again. I kept repeating to myself, ‘Julie is dead, Julie is Dead, Julie is dead’
It still feels surreal.
I was not a good friend to Julie. I cared about her, but predictably, life happened, and even when we did reconnect, it was in that weird millenial way that allows people to make plans but not really commit. Where it’s okay to cancel at the last minute or simply ignore the fact that you had arranged a meeting. Where following people on social media is a substitute for actually sitting down with someone and being in their presence. Where the lamest of excuses are accepted with a smiley face and a ‘no worries’ text. Where instead of spending time with people, we would rather stay home and troll the internet.
Funerals remind us just how fragile life is. They remind us just how unfair life is. That ultimately, few things matter. No-one will remember what car you drove (even if they do, it won’t be their fondest memory). They will remember you and how you made them feel. Even your mistakes will pale in comparison to all the good you did. They will remember the joy and happiness you brought into their lives.
Funerals remind us that we are failures. That we will never live up to our standards. That we will never be good enough or smart enough, or kind enough or anything enough. But it’s okay, we were never meant to be. We were meant to live as flawed humans, who have little control over what happens. We were meant to live with pain and fear and sadness and then disappear. But as long as we try our best, appreciate our friends and families and everyday that we live, then it will be okay.
Rest in peace Julie.
NB: Sometimes we can never fully understand the struggles that other people go through. Sometimes we can’t understand that there is a difference between soul crushing depression and a funk because something bad happened. Sometimes ‘get over it’ is the worst thing we can say when we are trying to help someone. We just don’t understand, and we can’t. My friends out there with issues they may suspect could be serious, get help. We can’t save you because we don’t understand.