Real heroes do not wear capes– they walk around every day, facing fear, pain, and living to tell tales that most of us will hopefully never face in our lifetime.
One year ago today I lost one of my best friends.
Death is a cruel mistress and takes too many from us too soon, but Kyle was different from almost anyone else I have ever met or encountered. In the year since his death, I have learned so much – about myself, his impact on the world, including that of his family and friends. I have learned about true strength – demonstrated by his mother and girlfriend, and the many others that he touched in his lifetime.
Grieving is a natural part of life, but we all grieve differently from one another – it’s part of our humanity. The type of person we are, what we learn from the process, and who we turn to in our time of need, is all part of what allows us to heal.
Over the last 365 days, I have:
- Randomly cried when I came across a photo or read something someone posted on social media
- Smiled at a random memory that made me so happy my heart hurts
- Sent messages to his family just to remind them how much I love and miss them and him
- Realized just how precious life is, and how lucky I am to have best friends such as Kyle
My last bullet is what the big take away is here – life is truly precious, and I’m truly lucky.
They tell us that it’s better to have love and lost, than to have never loved at all. When we’re heartbroken, we never understand, but once we have healed, we understand the real message. Standing back a year later, the pain is still there, but what I learned from Kyle is how to live life. His outlook and mentality was unparalleled to anyone I had ever met. So I’ll share with you, what he taught me over the course of our friendship, and what the last year has given me the chance to realize — it is our responsibility to keep our loved ones messages and mentality in our lives, and to keep their legacy going.
Words are precious; hold on to them, share them, and cherish them. Use them with others, and work to spread positivity whenever possible. We never know when they will be taken from us, so make sure you tell people how much you appreciate them, enjoy them, and what you need. How we share our message is just as important as how we ask something of someone else. Make sure you think before you speak, and always consider what someone else is going through – listen to the words someone is using to determine what to do next.
They speak louder than words, and we know words are important – so let’s ensure that our actions also speak positively about us. Show kindness when possible, do things for others, and always be passionate about something – a cause, a football team, music — find what is important to you and support it.
Sometimes the most difficult thing to do is forgive someone – but with life being short, you have to learn how to do it. Learn to communicate, talk issues through, ask questions, and come to resolutions… together. Life is all about mutual decisions and figuring out what we all need for and from one another. You would hate knowing that something happened, and you could have easily fixed the situation – but stubbornness got in the way.
Savor life’s big and little moments. Cherish them and collect them. There are reasons to celebrate numerous things, and we should not deny ourselves these moments. A major win at work, getting through to a youth, or perfecting a sequence for the drumline are all reasons to celebrate – take the time to celebrate what is most important in life – you, loved ones, friends, and memories.
Take tons of pictures! Document your life. One day, you are going to want to look back and see what you did. If it’s not you, it’s going to be your family and friends. People want proof of everything you did together – the happiness, the laugher, the events – document all of it. These photos are your living memory book – leave the moments for everyone to share.
This is the most important one I learned – Kyle cherished life. Every second, minute, hour. Nothing was going to hold him back – he was determined to get the most out of people, and life itself. It’s what made him one of the most incredible human beings I have ever met. He woke up each morning planning to get the most out of every day. If you wake up with the mentality that the sun is shining, the birds are chirping, and the day is yours, well you have nothing to do but carpe diem. And carpe diem he did.
Life is so incredibly precious, and when faced with loss, the pain and grief can be devastating. Having a supportive unit – friends, family, a counselor to help you through it, is necessary. I have been very lucky – I only cried twice while typing this, but that’s because I know that I’m continuing to live my life the way Kyle would have wanted it. I’m living in his memory and legacy. I’m living the way he taught me to, and I’m celebrating life the way he would.