We millennials were promised a lot of things growing up. You will get a good job. You will live a long life. You will be successful. You will be happy.
I don’t blame our parents for telling us these things, because they grew up differently than we did and I think they honestly believed what they were telling us to be true. I would venture a guess and say that most of us grew up anticipating achieving all our goals and living our lives to the fullest. Go us!
It’s quite an uncomfortable and unsettling feeling when this is not, in fact, what happens.
Millennials have learned the hard way that life is (sometimes, not always) what you make it. We have learned that (sometimes, not always) life is tougher than we were led to believe.
October has always been a month of bad luck for me. To those with birthdays in October or to those who actually (gasp) enjoy October – I apologize. But every bad thing, every seriously bad thing that has ever happened to me has occurred in October. (Okay, with ONE exception. Maybe we will talk about that later.)
This October Curse is a real thing that the sister also recognizes as truth. Last year, we decided to use a positive attitude and change October! We definitely could make this October better!
But it wasn’t better. It became one of the worst. And one of the hardest.
October 5. October 5 of last year my very first best friend left me here on this earth. Every day since then has been a battle to pretend it’s not true and make myself believe that it’s true. I still pick up my phone to text him. I still have sudden thoughts of worry that he is okay and not miserable, and then remember he’s gone. I still get excited and think about seeing him in our hometown and then remember I won’t.
I know that grief has very set stages. I’ve found that to be mostly true. But I am amazed at how anyone ever moves past the denial phase of grief. How does anyone just swallow down the truth and be okay saying to themselves – well, they are gone and I won’t speak to them again or fight with them again or laugh with them again.
I guess, if I’m being honest, it happens slowly. You start referring to the people you have lost in past tense. You start every story about them saying… remember when… and even if it’s a funny memory you still feel sad. But then, you remember: you can laugh and feel happy even though they are gone. You tell yourself – this is what they would want me to do, they would be proud, they would understand, they would support me in this.
My first best friend and I used to talk the most when the winter came. We both never really dealt well with the cold and the dark of the long nights. We used to talk about the inexplicable feeling we had of dying young (maybe he always knew) and tell each other we were fine and that would never happen. We would argue about pushing the boundaries of life and what music was better (techno, really?) and fight over our relationships and tell each other what to do. He’d tell me he was going to find a love like his parents and I would tell him I was going to write a book and we would tell each other, yes, yes, you can do that, and you will. Of course you will because we are young and even though life is short you have time.
But he left me here on October 5 and I guess I had to accept that you don’t always have the time you think you do. Life is short, people say, but you don’t really grasp that concept when your grandfather passes away or your dog gets put to sleep because he’s old. Life is short. It’s not something I think humans want to internalize as a fact because, the truth is, life shorter than we even realize.
We grew up thinking we had all the time in the world and that the world would be good to us.
If I could talk to the first best friend right now, and have a real conversation with him, I would tell him I can’t believe he left me here when he promised he wouldn’t. Our kids will never get married like we planned. Because life was too short. I’d tell him that his funeral was unlike anything I’ve ever seen. That the brother asked everyone to stand up and applaud my best friend’s life and they did, they did, because he lived outside the box and he was annoying and always wearing headphones but he loved everyone. He loved everyone so much that his heart filled up too early and he left us too early. I’d tell him I’m writing again because one of us is going to do it, dammit, one of us is going to make it.
I’d tell him that I have so much support he wouldn’t believe it. And I’d tell him that getting to acceptance in the stages of grief has been so hard, harder than I ever thought. Harder than anyone ever told me. But that you do it, because life is short. And that I will keep living hard and loving hard and dancing hard because he taught me to.