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Love, it is a word that is so often thrown around in this world without any meaning or feelings behind it. Why is that? Why is it that we find it so easy to just throw the word around without really realizing what it means? Now, I am not saying that when people say it they never mean it, because trust me, I am someone who definitely loves to tell those around me that I love them. But for me it is because I know that I do and that I would truly be lost without them!
Now for some people it may come across silly to say that at the age of 16 I began falling in love for the first time. In the past I have been told that at that age you don't know what love is and rather it is just a silly school girl crush and that's it. I know now though that it definitely was NOT a school girl crush because I had many of those throughout high school and none of them made me feel the things that I did with him (for the sake of privacy I am just going to continue to call him, him). I wish though that I could tell you that this story had a happy ending and that while we didn't end up together we still stayed friends and accepted that is all it would ever be. However, this love story for me had a terrible, terrifying and heart-wrenching ending, one that I never expected. Forgive me if this comes off as soup opera like drama but I swear that everything you are about to read actually happened. It began 9 years ago, was cut off tragically 5 years ago, and finally came to the bittersweet ending this year, so let's start at the beginning.
We met at summer camp when I was 15 and he was 16 and we hit it off right away. We both signed up for the Survival group and were the only two that didn't have a friend in the group already and so we decided we would be each other's friend and partner. The first day of Survival we were tasked with building a shelter out of only the materials provided to us and we found out that day that if we were ever stranded on an island or in the wilderness together we better hope there is an unoccupied cave for us to live in because our shelter was terrible and it barely stood up on its own. This was the best day for us though because this is the day we realized we didn't just have to pretend to be each other's friends because we actually began an amazing friendship that day. Throughout the rest of the week at camp, we continued to grow closer. We did everything together and often spent our free time at camp exploring the different paths and weird places you find at camp. Eventually, we realized that this time together was coming to an end and that we wouldn't be seeing each other all the time but we also decided that this was not the end to our friendship. On the last day of camp, we exchanged cell numbers and went our separate ways with a hug and a promise to keep in touch, and we did. For the next two years it was constant texting and Facebook messaging, late night phone calls and again camp for a week together for the next two summers.
These amazing and fun times at summer camp ended when I turned 18 not only because it was the last year I could've attended camp but also because he told me that he was moving in with his mom, who lived in the U.S. (where he was originally from). So this time we really did say goodbye but again promised that we wouldn't stop talking to each other. Again we kept this promise and for the next three years we continued to talk both via text and Facebook as well as on the phone for hours on end as well. It was through these conversations where we talked about all of the adventures we had, had at camp, and the millions of times we told the other how much we missed each other and all of our plans to see each other again in person one day that I realized that I was falling in love with this amazing human being and whether or not he love me in the same way didn't matter because I knew he did love me, if only as his best friend. It was a world of complete and utter bliss and I loved every day that went by.
However, this world came crashing one Saturday night when I was 21. I was hanging out with some of my friends playing Dungeons and Dragons like we did every Saturday and I got a phone call from his mom. At first I thought that it was him calling me from his mom's phone for some reason. I answered with a happy hello but this happiness ended quickly when his mom said the two words that would change my life forever: "he's dead." At first, I had no idea who she was talking about and then it hit me exactly who she was talking about. I fell to the ground and became a puddle of emotions on the floor and I had no idea what to do. It didn't make sense he was always so careful and everyone loved him so it had to have been an accident. This wasn't the case though he was killed by accident; rather he and his other roommate were murdered by their other roommate and friend, someone who he had known for a long time and some one who you are supposed to trust instead he used this trust to betray and ultimately kill his roommates.
It made no sense to me at all how someone could do this to him. All that went through my head was a million questions that I didn't know if I would ever have an answer to. The people around me tried to help me get through it all, they supported me the best that they could. But sometimes all the support in the world cannot shine a light into the darkness of ones own mind and heart. I look back now and I can see that in the weeks following this news I became a shell of my former self. I wanted nothing to do with anyone, I wouldn't talk to anyone about what I was going through, I went to University, went home, and laid on my bed and just stared at the ceiling with questions still running through my head. I became an angry person, especially at those who were trying to help. In my grief I found that it was easier to just push people away then to have them possibly leave me too. The worst result was that I became a person filled with hate, mostly hate towards God. I hated him because I didn't understand how someone who is supposed to love everyone could let something like this happen. I soon found out though that my faith is what I needed to get me through all of this.
That day I felt my heart shatter into a million pieces and I can honestly say that I don't think I ever fully healed it. There are people that know exactly what I am talking about they know the pain of losing someone that you love. I had lost great grandparents and grandparents before and these losses were sad and broke my heart, losing him though hurt in a completely different way. He was my kindred spirit, the person I loved with all of my heart and mind, the person who I turned to when everyone else left. Losing him felt like I lost a piece of myself like there was a piece of me that I am never going to get back. Still to this day there is a place in my heart where my love for him sits and even when I do find someone one day, I will tell them about him so they realize why I won't use the word love unless I know that I mean it 100%. The pain that came from this heartache lasted for many years and often I still feel it today.
For the next few months I could hardly sleep at night because of the nightmares that plagued me while I slept if I did eventually fall asleep it was because I cried myself there. The most common and scariest nightmares that I had and sometimes still have (especially if I am stressed or depressed) started to occur after watching the movie Hunger Games: Mockingjay Pt. 1, and I still cannot watch this movie to this day. The nightmare starts out simple enough, I am walking down a single white hallway with a few windows here and there that lead to the outside. The farther that I walk down the hallway the weirder the nightmare starts to get the light go out and the hallway is lit up by the emergency lights that are not solid light but rather flickering lights. When I finally reach the end of the hallway I am met by a wall with a single Plexiglas window. The lights inside of the room light up and I can see him with his roommate sitting on the couch watching TV and there is a single door in the corner of the room. I smile and call his name, however, he does not hear me and instead continues to watch TV and laugh with his roommate. The next moment is when the dream ends and the nightmare begins as the door in the corner opens up and his other roommate walks in with the murder weapon in hand. The next two minutes of the nightmare are the worst as I have to stand and watch the entire murder take place. I try and look or run away but I am frozen in place and I cannot move the entire time. I am helpless and watching the event take place and the tears are running down my face and the last thing that I see before I am finally able to wake up is him (my friend) looking at me and mouthing "I'm sorry." The worst part about the nightmare is that it feels so real and I am just a helpless bystander. I always think that it would just be easier if I woke up before the nightmare starts because then I wouldn't have to constantly revisit it. However, no matter how many times I try and wake up, I never can until the very end.
I never understood why in my mind would I see him apologizing at the end of the nightmare rather than saying something like "help me." I think now that it isn't so much my mind seeing him apologizing to me but rather me apologizing to him for not being there to help him or maybe it is my mind believing that he would be apologizing for not being able to do all of the things we had promised and planned. In reality of it all, I don't care that we didn't get to do all of these things, rather I would give anything to see him one last time and tell him just how much I love and care about him.
It has gotten easier through the years to forget the dark and terrible things that happened to him and rather to remember the amazing person that he was and all of the amazing times that we had together. It was so hard for so long to forgive the person who took him from me and I hated him and wanted him to have the worst penalty imaginable hoping that it would make it all feel better and take the heartache away. My heart, on the other hand, had a different idea. When the final decision was finally made this year after years of re-trials instead of being satisfied with the verdict that he received and leaving it at that, my heart told me that they only way I would ever truly be able to move on is if I forgave him for what he did. I didn't know if I would actually be able to do it but after talking to my friend's mom, she revealed to me that she had forgiven him a long time ago. She told me that she realized holding onto anger and hate only eats away at you inside until there is nothing left and that she didn't want to live like that. She just hoped that whatever the outcome of the case was that justice would be served and that he would realize the damage that he has done. After hearing this, I knew that she was right especially when I look back at the way I had been and the way I acted in the last few years. I haven't completely forgiven him yet, but slowly I am learning to.
I guess what I am trying to say throughout this whole story is that losing someone you are in love with is possibly one of the hardest things you ever go through. It causes you heartache, pain, anger, hatred, and unbearable sadness and helplessness and while these are hard emotions to overcome they are not impossible. Now I look at my life and I see all of the little things that I see him and his influence in. I can hear his laughter in the laughter of my other male friends and I see his smile in their smiles. As cheesy and ridiculous it sounds when I am outside there are little things that remind me of him and our adventures at camp. Whether it be the way the wind blows the trees or I see a certain flower I can remember the adventures we had. He was an amazing human being who I was privileged and blessed to have had in my life. I know that I wouldn't be who I am today without him or his love and friendship. I gained a life experience that while I don't wish it on anyone has helped me to not take life for granted and to find pleasure in the littlest and simplest and most beautiful things. So for those hurting out there because of the loss of a loved one remember that things will eventually get better and to focus on the memories of them not the loss.