If you have a computer, TV or any friends then you probably know about last night’s Glee episode. It was painful to watch. Losing a friend, or any loved one, is really hard… let alone grieving in front of a national audience. I cried from beginning to end… not necessarily because of the story line but because I know all too well what losing a friend is like. While overdone in parts (I mean, it’s Glee…) the writers did an excellent job of capturing what grieving is really like.
Within the first few minutes, Kurt said the line that everyone who ever lost someone can relate to… “I’m going to spend the rest of my life missing him”. I remember the first time I realized that death is permanent. It sounds silly… like you should obviously know that you’ll never see the person again. However, when you’re so close to someone, you never think of the possibility that they won’t be there anymore – even after they die. When my dad passed away, I had this moment about a month after the services when I realized that I may live for 70 more years but will never see or hear from him again. It is this grounding and permanent feeling… and I think that single line captured the emotion so well – “I’m going to spend the rest of my life missing him.”
Another very real moment was when Santana stormed out of the room because she just couldn’t be there anymore. She said that she thought coming back would help but everything just reminds her of Finn. A few years ago, we lost a coworker and friend to cancer. It was horrible – anyone who worked at a camp understands that it’s a family. Our friend Danny was diagnosed with lung cancer and within months he was gone. It didn’t make sense… he was in his early twenties & didn’t smoke – if anyone could beat the odds, wouldn’t it be him? It was one of the most devastating things we’ve been through.
I was still in Chicago when it happened & I wanted nothing but to get home and go to camp. Two weeks after the services, I finally returned to work and thought it would make me feel better. For a couple days it did but then I had my breakdown. I heard a stupid song or something and lost it. I kept on expecting to see him pop up around camp and every inch of that place was attached to a memory. It was really hard to go to work every morning after that. Everyone was grieving, including the kids. Danny was the one who bonded us – he was the leader. We never imagined camp, or life for that matter, without him.
When Santana was talking about how Finn was a better person than she was, it struck a chord. That’s what we were all thinking when we lost Danny. It was this thought of… well, if one of us has to go – why are you choosing the role model? The one who genuinely loves his job and never complains? The one we all look up to? Eventually you make it to a place where you realize that you’re able to carry on their legacy. You’re able to take on the traits that made him the best. We all kept thinking – if he’s gone, who is going to be the one to do this, or the one to do that? Eventually you realize that you’re going to have to step in and be that person.
When Finn’s family was packing his things and Kurt’s dad went on his rant about ‘why didn’t I give him more hugs,’ anyone who lost a loved one could relate. There are so many regrets. A few months after we lost Danny, a close friend of mine, Amanda, was killed by a drunk driver while she was on her bike. Two nights before her accident, she texted me to see if I wanted to hang out. I was tired and cranky, which meant I just disregarded her text message… I did that a lot to her. I saw her all the time so I never felt the need to try hard in our friendship. For months after her death, I was so hung up on that text message. Why didn’t I hang out with her that night? Why didn’t I at least give her the decency of a text back?
There are all these little regrets we feel with loss. It’s stupid because they are mostly centered around ‘normal’ behavior that is only escalated because of death. Why didn’t I treat my dad with more respect? Because I was a thirteen year old girl – that’s how they act. Why didn’t I answer Amanda’s text message? Because I was tired, cranky and assumed I would see her in a few days anyways. You have to remove the guilt and realize that it doesn’t mean you’re a bad person. There’s nothing you can do to fix it but forgive yourself.
The last scene that was incredibly relatable was when Sue was telling Santana that Finn had so much potential and it’s all pointless now. My friend Amanda was an incredibly talented filmmaker. She was a hustler… always finding a project to work on or creating one herself. There was no doubt in our mind that she would make it. The entire film department knew who she was – she really made her mark. She had this philosophy that you never had to be a starving artist if you believed in yourself enough… if you took every opportunity that came your way. She spent all these years and put in all this hard work to get ahead by the time she graduated from DePaul. Then she was killed and I felt like, well… what’s the point? What’s the point of working hard towards a goal if you don’t know what tomorrow brings? All that hard work, ass kissing, money and time spent… and she’s gone.
Now, as someone working hard to achieve her own dream, I understand that it’s not pointless. When Amanda realized she wanted to make films, she never looked back. From that point forward, she spent every waking hour doing what she loved. Those were the happiest days of her life. It doesn’t matter that her life was cut short… she did far more than most people did. She went for it – I mean, really went for it. She was happy every second that she worked towards her goal and that’s what matters. She inspired her classmates, friends and family to fearlessly chase their dreams. It wasn’t pointless.
Losing a friend at a young age is hard. You had all these plans and expectations for the future that just vanish. You feel guilty for living longer than they did… every second of your grieving process you wonder why it happened to them instead of you. However, I feel like I’m a better friend because of it. Losing Danny and Amanda made me realize the importance of being a good friend in the time I have. I realized that I’m not invincible because of my age or good health – you never know what tomorrow brings. So make the most of every single day. Steve Jobs once said, “I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: ‘If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?’ And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.”
Live your life so that there’s something to look forward to by the end of the day – you never know what tomorrow brings. Be fearless.