What I Did After My Best Friend’s Death

Friendship is a beautiful thing: it helps us grow and makes our day much brighter. As for me, I’m terribly lucky to have a best friend who had always been there for me through my ups and downs unconditionally. Therefore, I brace myself to write this journal to commemorate his death 3 months ago despite some fear of sharing about my private life openly.

We started to know each other 3.5 years ago. When we first met, we didn’t directly hit it off. I found him annoying and bossy, I even avoided him at times. However, as time passed by, I started to realize how kind he is and enjoy his company. Yet, all of a sudden, he was diagnosed with a rare bone cancer when he was only 22 years old. I fell into a deep shock, not sure what to do or say to him, afraid of saying the wrong thing, afraid of accidentally hurt him. After all, I’m just a teenager who barely understands human psychology.

However, I decided not to think too much and just talked to him the way I used to talk to him. We continued to WhatsApp each other everyday and update each other on our daily lives. He went through several rounds of chemotherapy boldly. He said he can’t wait to be back to school.

By the grace of God, after numerous rounds of chemotherapy, around 1.5 years ago, the doctor declared him to be cancer-free. I’m very happy and he finally came back to our university to study. During this period, I was taking an internship.

However, this didn’t last for long. One day when I just went back from work, out of the blue, he asked whether I’m available for a call. I was surprised, since he never called me before. The call turned out to be one of the saddest calls I’ve ever received. After 7 weeks of studying, in Sept 2018, he found out that cancer came back and it had even spread into his lungs. He told me that he was never going to recover. That all the efforts left can only prolong his life, not cure. We spent the night crying on the phone.

I cried for several days and started to listen repeatedly to the song “Tears in Heaven” during my then internship. He decided not to give up and try everything that’s possible. His fighting spirit never wandered. Not long after that, he found out that his lungs collapsed and spent almost a month in the hospital. During this period, he started to encounter God personally and believe in Him. His condition was so bad that the doctor said that should the machine was removed from his body, he would die straight away. However, he finally got better and discharged from the hospital miraculously.

After that, he started to read the bible and entrust himself to God. Sometimes his condition got worse but he would always get better in the end, except the last one, where cancer ended up killing him. Along the way, he always told me how God has saved him so many times and performed miracles on him.

I’ve been questioned many times by so many people why would I still befriended him, since it looked like I would end up sad watching him dying before my own eyes. However, I don’t think that’s really the case here. Every time I talked to him, I always felt like learning something new. He strengthened my faith in God and helped me go through some of the difficult phases of my life. Thus, I never felt like watching him dying, instead, I was watching him living his life as a testimony of God’s glory! Besides, life is full of surprises, no one can predict life and death precisely.

However, there were definitely days where I felt isolated about losing him for the reasons below.

Society doesn’t put high value on friendship

Society tends to rank family and romantic relationship above friendship. Talking about your grandparents or uncle carry more weight, from the title alone, compared to talking about your best friend. This can be difficult when a friend dies and those around us don’t offer us support the way they do when we lose a family member. For me, one of the challenges was to explain to people why I choose to go to his funeral which was held in his hometown far away while I was on a vacation.

Your friend’s family may not know of your friendship

This was more of a worry instead of a reality to me. When I arrived at the funeral, I was not sure what I should be doing or saying in there since I was not sure if his family knew that we were close. Will they wonder who is this girl? However, to my surprise, they welcomed me well and I was able to connect with his mom and share his memories.

You may think that your friend is irreplaceable

It’s true. I believe that he is a unique individual and I would never have a friend exactly like him. But this doesn’t mean that I won’t have another meaningful friendship in life.

Sometimes I worry that I would forget him. Sometimes I feel that if I let someone in, I will forget him. In days like this, I remind myself that no one is going to replace him. My new friendships will be unique in their own way, but there can’t never be a replacement for him. I actually learnt about this from the book titled ‘Plan B’ where Sheryl Sandberg tell how she cope after losing her beloved husband. It is a really good book with a lot of practical tips.

So what do I do?

Three months have passed by since the day he died. Some days were easy for me, I got very occupied and had no time to think of him. Yet, other days were hard. I found myself crying at night as I miss listening to his advice and ramblings which never fail to calm me down. I reread old messages, watched films he recommends, and wrote down my thoughts.

I found music and the bible to be very comforting in times like this. Honestly, I’m not sure when things would return to ‘normal’ to me, but maybe this is the new ‘normal’. After all, life is a journey we should savor along the way and I believe that this will make me stronger.

Previously published on Medium.com.

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Photo credit: By Simon Birt on Unsplash

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