The first funeral I attended changed my perspective on life

Updated: Jan 19, 2019

First published on Medium May 14, 2018

I buried one of my childhood best friends a little over a year ago. That’s what people say, don’t they — I buried X, I lost X. It’s not as loud as ‘death’. I was 19 at the time and just about to graduate high school. I was excited, as were all of my friends, whether they were from school or not. The first time a childhood friend of mine graduated high school I had this long moment of reflection. That was going to be me next year. I was actually about to enter the world of adulthood, where I’d have to try and navigate by myself. And the directions I had were the bare minimum. Anxiety and excitement merged together and I realised how quickly time had passed.

Nothing makes you realise the fatuous nature of human existence like the death of a 17 year old. She died just a few weeks before her birthday. She was talking on the phone with a friend. She had been battling anorexia and bulimia for years. They had almost taken her life a few years before. But she’d always come back. She’d always managed to “dodge the bullet”. And I’d always seen her as a constant in my life. That is a very dangerous thing — getting comfortable.

My brother once told me that he doesn’t want to be comfortable. He always has to find a new goal that he can aim for. No matter how uncomfortable you are, I don’t think death ever comes when expected. You are always gonna want one more day. You are always gonna expect one more day.

My childhood friends have always been like family to me. I was one of the oldest and I always tried to be an example for the younger ones. I always tried to motivate them and push them forward, make them believe in themselves. The younger ones were like my little brothers and sisters. She was like my baby sister. Even if we hadn’t talked in months. For a while she was embarrassed to smoke in front of me. And it was odd when she’d see me drink a beer. She’d always tell me that I was her older sister. She’d tell me how smart I am, how beautiful I am, how I had always been a role model for her. And she was just one year younger than me. Yet, she was still a kid at heart. She never really wanted to grow up.

Ever since her funeral, I’ve made sure to make the people around me feel loved and appreciated. I’ve become a better person. I’ve tried to take that child-like purity she had when it comes to human interaction. Her love for people. Her passion for charity. Her love to give.

It took me a very long time to put in words the pain I felt. Since grief and pain are universal, I thought I would share mine. In the compact version of a poem called ‘Ohana’:

First published on Medium May 14, 2018

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© Gery Galabova.