Doing something a little different since yesterday was a special day. This is a personal post I’ve been thinking about writing for a year and only had the courage to post today.
On September 23rd, 2016, I lost one of my good friends to cancer, something that came as a complete surprise to all of us in his circle and everyone who knew him. It was a quick battle. We lost him thirteen days after finding out about his state. Thirteen. And I never got to say goodbye.
The months that followed were painful. I couldn’t pick up a book without wanting to throw it at a wall. I cried often and at completely random times and couldn’t sleep a wink. I was filled with grief and didn’t know what to do with it. So many regrets. So many what-ifs.
Stephen was an intelligent and hardworking person who everyone knew was bound to go places. He was one of my first friends in college and one of the few who decided to stay. At first, I was intimidated by this larger than life person who seemed a little too intense when it came to coursework compared to my easy-going “style”, if you could even call it that. But then I really got to know him.
I found out we both loved to write, were both bibliophiles, and pretty much had the same interests. He had a big belly laugh and a playful and mischievous streak that would never fail to make me laugh. Plus, he was one of the most thoughtful people I knew. The last gift he gave me was a book for when I was leaving the Philippines for a few months.
As a then-twenty-two-year-old, I couldn’t comprehend the fact I lost a friend to cancer at twenty-two. I’ll be honest and say I still can’t fully comprehend it now. Someone so young and promising and kind, gone in a heartbeat.
It took me a while to stop crying. A while longer to finally read a book again and actually enjoy it. I then realized I was still breathing. My heart was still beating. I was alive for who knows when, and I wanted to make the most of it.
My grief led me to look at my life and where I was and made me see that I was stuck in a limbo, doing nothing I really loved. So, I traveled and started writing again. I started reading and blogging again. Then I talked to my parents about what I really want to do with my life.
I can’t say I’m a completely different person from a year ago, but now I’m making an active effort to being happy. And for now, that’s enough.
Stephen, thank you for everything you’ve done for me, and thank you for continuing to be my inspiration in living my life to the fullest. There’s not a day I don’t miss you.
Hug your loved ones. Tell them you love them. Within reason, don’t bail on your friends when they invite you to hang out. Travel the world. Reach for your dreams. Live your life. In the year since losing Stephen, I finally understood that life is too short to hold back.