It has been three hundred and sixty-five days.
And it’s weird, because I lived twenty-six years without ever knowing you, but this one year that followed a mere two years of friendship, has felt like a lifetime.
I guess that’s what happens when someone impacts your life so profoundly.
Even now, barely fifty words into this letter and I can’t stop the tears from coming. My first mistake was writing this while sitting in a public place; you know how much I hate getting emotional in front of other people. Rookie mistake I guess, but it’s not like I’m hoping to be well-practiced in the art of grieving.
What do I even begin to tell you here? “I miss you?” Well yes, that’s an understatement. “It’s not fair that you’re gone?” Of course, I hate that your life was one trial after another before it was cut way too short. “This sucks?” Ha. Yes, there’s an actual bitter laugh attached to this one. One of the most painfully true and incredibly practical lessons you taught me that I will forever carry in my heart.
When I really think about it, if I break our relationship down to it’s most basic level, there’s only one thing I can say:
Our very first encounter was one based in gratitude and that became the foundation of our interactions. We didn’t even know each other’s hopes and dreams yet, but we knew that the smell of a new book and good food on campus were things that made us tick. Our mutual hope to bring more appreciation and perspective into the world bonded us more deeply than I think either of us had expected.
You had a level of perseverance I have yet to see matched. I hold dear the memory of when you called me out of the blue and told me about how much you cared for your family and were willing to sacrifice for them, regardless of the turmoils a houseful of siblings and parents can provide. You loved people almost to a fault, and I’ve never admired anyone more for it.
It’s because of you, the way you lived your faith without hesitation, that my own belief grew in bounds. You were steadfast and open about your relationship with Jesus; you were bold and courageous when you spoke out in a way that inspired my timid, people-pleasing ways. You showed me what real gratitude is, in the face of any trial; your heart was unwavering in your trust for God’s plans.
It’s because of you that I cringe when someone says, “I’m fine.” None of us are fine, and you made it ok to be open about what was real in your life. It’s because of you that I can now be a minuscule source of comfort to others who find themselves in a similar situation. “This sucks,” you told me, “Sometimes we just need to say it because it’s true.” You showed me the best way to face a bad situation is to just call it what it is and walk into it anyway. For someone with so much faith, your practicality was resolute.
If I let myself keep going, this letter would easily become a book. Maybe one day I’ll pen your wisdom for more of the world to see but for now, the best I can do is try and live it out in your honor.
No, today I’m not fine. Yes, this really sucks. But my heart hurts because you taught me to love just a fraction of how much you did, and as odd as it sounds, I am truly thankful to know this pain is for you.
Thank you, Tori, your friendship has meant more to me than a few hundred words will ever do justice.
I love you.