Content warning: loss of life, violence
My best friend died from pancreatic cancer the weekend of Friday, October 12. A close friend’s dad was shot over the summer of 2018. Not a quarter mile from one of my Thursday classes, two people not older than me were gunned down in the streets. For an institution as natural and old as life itself, death steals. From the undeserving, it robs and it takes and it takes. And, at 19 years of age, I’ve only just begun to feel it.
Genuinely the best person I know and my closest friend throughout primary school, Layton Pezold passed away on Friday, October 12 from cancer treatment complications. He was the warmest person I ever knew, and now he just is not here anymore. The friend, who pulled me into PlayStation 2 games and took great efforts to get me acquainted with all three of his dogs, does not get a chance to live his life anymore. The happiest, most deserving friend I ever had spent his last moments in a hospital bed. I had known about his battle for a while now, but for some reason, I had never reached out. I have struggled with keeping connections with people from my old schools, and I guess somebody literally being about to die was not enough for me. What hurts the most is everything that could have been - that should have been - that cannot happen anymore.
My best friend is dead, and everything is worse now.
In a small rural suburb some 45 minutes outside of St. Louis, my close friend’s father was shot and killed by a random, angry, intoxicated neighbor. I am from this rural part of the state; things like this aren’t supposed to happen in farming communities. Without a hint of irony, stuff like this is supposed to be for big city folk, not here. Being a close friend, and being only 45 minutes away, I went to her father’s funeral to support my friend on that muggy late-July evening.
It was hard.
If bittersweet, I had to watch as my dear friend smiled over the open casket of her late father, shot dead, before pulling the lid closed for the last time. Of course you can bereave with and comfort the mourning, but in that moment, it is only helplessness. He is dead, your friend is in pain, and there is absolutely nothing you can do about it. I had to watch somebody say goodbye, forever, to the face of their father before his time. That will never be easy. And, as much as it would make me momentarily happy to forget the memory of my friend standing over her father’s casket, it would be betraying to his memory to just shut it out.
Death is hard. I do not expect it not to ever be. But coming to terms with it has been one of the hardest parts of growing up these last few months. Everybody leaves, and there is nothing to do but express our solidarity and move on. And I guess we have to be okay with that.