How are you supposed to react to a call at 7 am from your best friend’s dad telling you she’s no longer fighting and has finally passed away? How is it possible to go to school the very next day with a smile on your face? How can you continue doing everything you did with her, without her? How do you remain steadfast, driven, and content? 

After losing Laura, my best friend of seven years; the beginning of my sophomore year, I was devastated. I was almost every synonym you could find for the words unhappy and heartbroken. So many words to define how I felt that there were almost no words. I didn’t know how to react or respond to feelings or remarks from any single person or even myself. All of the advice and quotes that were heaving my way felt so cliché and unreal. I have always been very stubborn and prefer to listen to myself and go about hardships the way I want rather than the way people advise me to. Considering it was the biggest loss I ever had to go through, I didn’t quite know how to do it. I had thoughts that many people could probably assume I had, but I also saw her bright blue eyes looking at me, telling me not to do it. 

I could write a novel of our friendship and the person she was. I could write about my long, tiring days tearing up every hour and sleepless nights with water pouring out of my eyes. I could tell a story of how I lost track of the beauty in life in some moments and everything God has to offer that Laura would have loved to experience. But I would rather spend this time talking about how I went to school with a smile on my face, how I continued doing everything I did with her, without her, and how I will always remain steadfast, driven and content. 

I realized as soon as I spoke the morning after her death in front of my entire school that I was not alone. Girls and boys that I have never spoken to putting their arms around me and letting me lean on them. My community gave me so much faith and strength that I never knew I had. I felt like Laura never left me, images of her floated in my head throughout every day and that was the reason I smiled. Anywhere I went I kept a smile on my face and I did not let this tragedy break me like it could have. It is okay to have bad days when you really miss your loved ones, but they will always be with you. As long as you keep them in your heart, right there, they will be the closest to you. I told myself that Laura was just resting for a little while and that she could live the rest of her life in my heart, happily. I used to think that putting on a smile that wasn’t always real made me weak or talking about my sadness meant I wasn’t fearless, but I soon discovered that was the strength in me. That was the way I could allow myself to move on. I couldn’t be stuck in a moment that was over, I would not allow myself to drown in negativity, and I did not put myself through the process of alleviating pain through drugs, and other substances. I had to let myself live and love, even if she wasn’t here. Because I know she would be so happy to see how far I have come. 

It is possible. You can get through something that at one point felt impossible. You can continue to live your life without them physically there. The pain may last and come in like waves, but you can breathe through it. Although sometimes you may not know exactly what to do or say, I promise it will make you stronger as long as you continue to trust God and trust yourself. 

It has been almost two years and because of my sweet Laura I feel that every day I have a purpose to smile. I hope that every single person smiles through life and takes in all of the moments. Takes in the moments when they’re happy, sad, excited or nervous. Take it all in. There is only one of these lives on this earth for you, one that Laura got to live until she was only 15. Do not hide your feelings or hide yourself. Make sure you live a life full of positivity and making yourself better. Always take a little longer to look for the good even when it is easier to find the bad. Don’t always choose the path in front of you, create your own path. I love myself today. I am confident and I am strong. I would never be the girl I am without what I went through with Laura’s death. Of course, I wish we were still at football games together cheering our hearts and lungs out, but I know she is with me, watching the games from up above with a smile on her face screaming GO BANANAS GO GO BANANAS! 

Remain steadfast. Stay devoted. Create yourself. Love yourself. Stay strong. There is a light at the end of every long, dark tunnel. xx

- I love you Laura. Thank you for loving me when I don't love myself and protecting me. Please continue to watch over me and guide me in the right direction. Thank you for being my best friend and guardian angel all in one.

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