Sophomore year of college, I had the pleasure of living with one of the sweetest, brightest people I have ever met. Christine was a force to be reckoned with. A phenomenal singer with a bubbling personality and a lust for life.
Christine and I were basically the Odd Couple. I would encourage her to go to class, eat vegetables and study for exams. She would encourage me to party more, stay out later and enjoy life. Neither of us took the other’s advice.
Christine ended up dropping out of school, later that year, due to medical issues. Around that time, we ended up having a falling out – a situation too lengthy to recant here.
And then a few years ago, Christine died of a heroin overdose. I didn’t know she was using heroin. I didn’t know she was struggling. I hadn’t seen her in a long time, so I wasn’t sure what she had been up to. But for whatever reason, I felt nothing but guilt when I found out. Somehow, I was responsible. This voice in the back of my head would say “If you were a better friend, she wouldn’t be dead”.
Life milestones would come and go. A promotion here. An apartment there. A new beau. A trip to a new city. And the guilt would set in. I’m getting to enjoy things she never got to. “You could have saved her. You failed”.
It took years for me to finally realize that her death wasn’t my fault.
Thankfully, that survivor’s guilt that has been weighing on my neck like a millstone, has started to fall away. Instead of guilt, I have decided to live a life of love. Spreading joy, positivity, baked goods and happiness whenever and wherever I can. While I hope and pray that my friends know they can come to me anytime, day or night, 24/7 if they need help, I know now that is also their right not to.
The one thing Christine taught me while she was alive was to live in the moment and not dwell on the past. While this is certainly a struggle for me, I view every day as an opportunity to live a good life, in her memory.
For you, Christine,