Happy Halloween from Thailand! Although fall is one of my favorite seasons with all of the fun festive activities and (usually) cooler weather, fall also brings back some of the hardest memories and ones that are the closest to my heart. Yesterday was the seven-year anniversary of my best friend Corey’s death. I was only 15 and in 11th grade when it happened and it turned my whole world upside down. My group of friends, classmates and community went through more grief than anyone should ever have to face. Thankfully, we came out stronger in the end and I know that because of Corey’s life and legacy I am more compassionate, understanding, selfless, and I especially have learned to “Cherish Every Day”. If I am having a bad day or being pessimistic I have a tattoo to remind me with that simple poignant phrase and Corey’s initials.
Since most of my friends and family are on the east coast of the States, I began to experience October 30th before anyone else. Seven years may seem like a long time, but just seeing that date on the calendar turns my stomach into knots. I try to remember her beautiful smile, laugh, goofy personality, and our countless inside jokes but the date brings me back to that dreadful day in 2006 and I relive each step of it. Now, it feels more like a bad dream than anything else. The day has a hazy quality to it and most of the experiences feel as if they were in slow motion. I also feel like my memories of the day are not from my perspective but rather from an outsider looking in on myself. I remind myself to be positive and know whole-heartedly that her spirit is always with me, but I think it is important to remember the pain.
Pain is unfortunately one of life’s greatest teachers and without it we cannot appreciate the good in life and we cannot change. The pain I felt after loosing my dear friend has guided me and given me purpose in life. Her belief in me while she was here on earth has not diminished. I feel her spirit pushing me to help others, to listen, to talk and give advice, and to be open to what life has to offer me. I received a voicemail from her the night before she died and one line rings in my ears, “You have so much potential, don’t waste it”. Sometimes it is a quiet whisper, and sometimes it is an angry shout. For most, this isn’t groundbreaking advice and may be words you’ve heard before, but to me…they are a final message of encouragement and obligation to someone who I love very much.
My day at school yesterday was quite normal. After school Jackie and I went shopping and exploring in our town. We ventured to our local shopping mall where nearly everything is written or spoken in Thai. As we walked past one store I did a double take (why I don’t know) and saw a small sign over a display of shoes, the only English letters or words in sight “CMC”, Corey’s initials. I smiled and lingered for a second just to make sure I wasn’t seeing things. I felt at ease the rest of the day knowing that Corey will follow me wherever I choose to explore. Seven years ago my three best friends and I chose to read this E.E. Cummings poem at Corey’s funeral, and have it engraved on special necklaces that we all have. The words gave us so much comfort then and for me, even more so now. Corey lives on in the hearts of all that she met and even many who never knew her but were touched by her story. If you know Corey, I hope you find comfort in these words and purpose in her honor. If you don’t I hope you are reminded of the power of kindness, the vulnerability of human beings, the reality of mental illness and the everlasting quality of the human spirit. All that we touch and see in this world, and especially the people we meet, should be cherished, nurtured and celebrated. I intend to do just that.
i carry your heart with me BY E.E. CUMMINGS
i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart) i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing, my darling)
i fear no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet) i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world, my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you
here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart