An Open Letter to My Ex Best Friend

Dear Ex Best Friend  Hannah,

It’s been a while since we’ve really talked. Sure we’ve exchanged a few words on Instagram, but that’s all. It’s not like how it used to be, and for reasons only a select few truly know and understand. But that’s ok. I like it better that way. I won’t go into detail about what happened between us since you already know. And although this is an open letter, it’s for you.

It wasn’t easy for me to lose my best friend. I felt like I lost my sister. The pain I felt was similar to grieving the death of someone. Perhaps I was grieving the death of a friendship… that would make sense. For weeks after our split (that makes it sound like we were dating), I sat in bed and tried to convince myself that it was only a small bump in the road. But it wasn’t. It was a head on collision.

Time seemed to go by slower once we stopped talking. I know we had distanced a little beforehand, but this was even harder. I remember nights where I was going through something awful and the only words I could get out were “I want Hannah.” But you’re not Beetlejuice so saying your name didn’t bring you nearer.

I’m reminded of our adventures whenever I scroll through my Snapchat memories or Timehop notifications. I remember when we went to the fair for only a few minutes until I got upset over a boy so you took me to McDonald’s. We made fun of the truck in front of us for having their tow mirrors out when they weren’t towing anything. “Gotta look like big tough country folk with our big tow mirrors.” I remember our field trip senior year to D.C. when we bought ice cream and hid away in your hotel room. To this day, the littlest things can trigger memories. Whenever I’m out shopping and see mermaid things, my mind goes straight to you.

Thank you for the nearly ten years of friendship. Each moment we spent together helped build me into the person I am now. I still hear you in my head telling me how dumb I am when I make stupid decisions and I know I’ll have your guidance with me even if I don’t have you.

No matter what happened to us, I will still always love you for being the best friend a girl could ever ask for. You supported me, kept me sane (sometimes, anyway), and gave me great advice. It’s been roughly ten months since we stopped talking, but it feels like a lifetime without you.

I hope you succeed in all that you go after, and achieve all your dreams you’ve had since you were young. I’m still silently rooting for you in the shadows.

 

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Paying Homage to 2017

2017 is coming to a close, and judging by the millions of Odyssey articles I’m seeing on my Facebook newsfeed, a lot of us can agree that we took some brutal hits this year. My 2017 was full of bumpy roads- trials and tribulations. But with only a few more days left, I’ve looked back and been utterly thankful for the year that changed me more than I expected it to. I realized that the Meg that is walking out of 2017 is not the same Meg that walked into it. And it’s one of the most beautiful, fearful, and magical things ever. So 2017, this is for you.

I came into 2017 with the intensions of making the year one of my best yet. Ah, “young and naïve” some might say. But don’t we all have that goal when the new year hits?

However, I was not as lucky as I had hoped I’d be. A few months into the new year, I lost a boy that I thought was my world. Looking back at it, I was relishing toxicity. I thank God now for removing me from the position I was in. Although it taught me a lot about myself, I know that I was not meant to remain stagnant in false hope.

Shortly after, I experienced the most stressful event of 2017.

Graduation.

Actually, let’s back up just a little.

Finals.

I was a senior in high school, and these finals determined whether or not I would graduate. A lot of my fellow classmates weren’t even slightly worried because they had accumulated a grade that would assure their graduation. I, however, did not. Since I spent most of my senior year obsessing over a boy who, as we addressed earlier, was not made for me in the slightest, I did not devote the proper amount of time to my grades. This was especially true about my Advanced Math class.

At the end of the semester, I realized that if I didn’t do extremely well on my final, I would not pass the class and thus not graduate. I studied for weeks and suffered from long sleepless nights. I started doubting myself in every aspect of my life, making myself feel worthless and uneducated. However, I came to class and somehow- BY THE GRACE OF GOD- passed my final with flying colors.

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Ok, so graduation. Just thinking about it gives me anxiety to this day.

Growing up, I looked at graduation as the beginning of my adult life. So naturally I was extremely excited for graduation day. The day was already special, but to top it off, my father gave me my diploma. I was overjoyed and proud of everything I had accomplished to have obtained my diploma.

But then, as I was walking out of the high school I spent four chaotic years in, I got a somber feeling. Everything that I grew up around was over. I spent so long sitting next to the same familiar faces and rotating through familiar daily routines. Now it was coming to an end, and the “beginning of my adult life” was officially commencing. Panic took over my thoughts.

“What if I can’t get a steady job?”

“Where am I even going to college?”

“What’s my major?”

“Will I end up living with my parents forever?”

But I eventually got myself on the right path, and I decided that I want to major in Education. Children are so pure and amazing and working with them makes me feel like I am positively impacting someone, which is all I ever want to do.

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Summer 2017 is what I like to refer to as the transitioning season. I made a lot of new friends who mean the absolute world to me, and I also lost friends. However, I regret nothing. I was able to mature, grow, and become someone completely new. I wouldn’t have it any other way. The friends that I will take on 2018 with are the best that I could ever ask for. They’ve become my brothers and sisters and I love them whole heartedly.

I was also hired onto a team of amazing people in September. Boys and Girls Club hired me as a part time Youth Development Professional, which is one of the best things I have going on right now. I work in a middle school alongside three AMAZING coworkers who have more or less turned into family. They have been my rock, and always support me. I couldn’t be more thankful for the opportunities I’ve been given through Boys and Girls Club. I get experience with the age group I want to teach, and I’ve gotten to work in so many different schools. The children I work with give me so much inspiration and even directly motivate me to do great things.

I chose to attend community college for the first two years because it would be completely paid for. It was the smartest option for me financially, and it also allowed me to keep in touch with friends and family easily. Fall semester was full of headaches. Well, technically only one class was, but it was such a huge headache that it carried over to my other classes. But I loved every bit of my first semester. It was challenging at times, but it kept me excited to learn new things. After four years of high school where most things felt like review and repetition, college introduced me to hardcore learning. I read my textbooks all the time, took notes any chance I got, and studied my ass off (except for in the headache class. Fuck that class).

By being home, I was able to support my younger sister in marching band in the fall. Even when I was a cheerleader, I was able to sit in the stands at halftime to watch her perform. But it felt different this year. It was awesome getting to watch games in the stands instead of cheering on the sidelines. It was a whole other world to me, which was sometimes upsetting. I missed cheering with my girls. But I still came to every game I could to cheer on my Alma Mater, as well as my best friend. Yeah, so let me introduce some of you to him.

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This is Zach, my boyfriend.

He moved to my school in January as a junior, and I absolutely hated him. He seemed to push buttons that I didn’t even know I had. But I eventually grew to love him. He was super funny, even though most of the time I laughed at him rather than with him. We became best friends within a few months, along with some of our Speech classmates. We later deemed ourselves the “Speech Squad.”

After graduation, we drifted apart for a bit. I still supported him as a friend, but we just didn’t communicate as much as we used to. But as football season approached and I remembered he was playing Varsity, I decided to cheer him on alongside some of my best friends. We jokingly made Z-A-C-H shirts that we would occasionally wear to games to be those people. He seemed to enjoy it so we kept it up.

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Towards the end of the season, Zach and I had completely reconnected and somehow admitted that we were attracted to each other. It was something I had kept a secret for months. But after admitting it, we both felt like we had stepped in the right direction. Although this decision came with some pretty brutal consequences amongst our friend group, we began dating. Now we are two months in, and I couldn’t be happier. He is definitely my favorite part of 2017, and the number one reason I refuse to spit on the year and all it did for me. I am absolutely in love with him.

Now, to conclude this homage, I would like to address those who despised their year. Whether you had the best or worst year yet, it changed you. It shaped who you are now. And that is something that we all must take into account.

2017, thank you for all you did for me this year.

2018, you’ve got some competition.

Thanatopsis

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So many people grow up thinking that they’re invincible, including myself. This was proven wrong two months ago when I lost my best friend to suicide. This event taught me that I was not as strong as I had once believed. However, I believe that strength comes in different forms. When the death of a loved one forces you to face the days without them for the rest of your life, that is strength.

I cannot pretend that I knew what strength was before I met Josh. He taught me all I needed to know. I consider that his going away present. When I was going through the hardest patches of my life, he was by my side every step of the way. He held my hand through the bullying, negativity, and overwhelming downfall. I could never thank him enough for that, although he knows I tried. He would send me messages on Twitter about how great of a person I was and how beautiful he thought I was. Little things like that helped me keep my head up. To this day, I read those old messages and sometimes I even write him. I always think that maybe there’s wi-fi up in heaven and he can read my messages.

“You are never alone.” Josh Byers

After losing my best friend, I was instantly introduced to the love and support of the community. I received phone calls, cards, and donations for the family. All of which were beyond comforting to me. When I saw the community come together to mourn the loss of a great soul, I realized that I am never alone. Nobody is. Everybody holds each other’s hands in times of trouble, and gives hope to those without it. I’d like to take this moment to thank everybody who contributed to the family and friends of Josh with monetary donations and/or well wishes.

“It only takes one shattering event of sufficient magnitude to change one’s core beliefs about life.”

Losing Josh was one of the hardest things that I ever had to go through. My emotions were sent into a whirlwind and I couldn’t think straight. What happened to invincibility? I had to remind myself that all good things come to an end, although for the longest time I didn’t want to accept that this was the end. I stayed up late at night and wondered what I could have done differently. Just as you’d expect, blaming myself and others came with no positive results. As time went on, I began accepting what had happened, and I looked at everything differently. I decided that we are, in fact, here for a reason. In some cases we may be unaware of our reason, as Josh was. However, there is a reason for each individual life on Earth. I also learned that every day is a gift. We never know when it all may come to an end, so we should be grateful for all that we have. I, for one, am grateful for the amazing friend that I found in Josh.

“A person never truly gets ‘over’ a suicide loss. You get through it. Day by day. Sometimes it’s moment by moment.” Holly Kohler


In Loving Memory of

Joshua Russell Byers

October 8, 1998 – May 19, 2016

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