Throughout your life you will see many people come and go. Some people will simply come in and out leaving not even a trace that they ever existed. Others will leave impressions on us and we will never be the same again. Some friendships take time to build and grow while others just happen instantly. I love meeting a person that I have an instant connection with. I can tell right away that the person is genuine. There is no act being put on, they are just being who they are.
I met Nicole my freshmen year of college and upon meeting her my first thought was, “I have to be friends with this girl.” She had a wildly outgoing personality, a contagious laugh and a smile that was about a mile wide. I found traits in Nicole that I wished I had more in myself and I admired her a lot. Nicole was only in my life for a year and a half, but the connection we had made it feel as if I had known her forever. We joked often that we were “soul mate” friends. I have had other friendships like the one with Nicole, but during this time I felt like I was running through life with my twin. She got me and I got her and all the while we were having an awesome time together. We were living the college life.
Nicole and I did everything together. She lived on campus in a dorm while I lived in an apartment with a friend of mine down the block. Nicole often slept over our apartment. We did everything together. We partied together, went to the gym together, ate together and even worked together. We both were from Long Island so each time I would go home she would come with me since I had a car and she didn’t. Our car rides home would become some of my favorite moments together. It would be our time together that we were silly singing and dancing to the songs on the radio. We would also talk deeply about life. This is what I loved best. Everyone who knows me well would understand that I am a very deep thinker. I analyze things more than the average person. Not everyone likes this way of thinking and there are few people that I feel comfortable opening up this way to. With Nicole I could just be myself. It was nice.
On November 11, 2001 Nicole was killed in a drunk driving accident. It was the first night that we didn’t go out together. Nicole was at a party with a group of friends and ended up leaving to go to another party with a guy we both worked with. Not long into their drive he lost control of his car and crashed into a telephone pole. He had been drunk. A few hours later my soul mate friend passed away at the nearby hospital. Life would never be the same…….
The following days and months were filled with so much change. I attended Nicole’s wake and funeral. I dropped out of school and moved home. I tried to move on with my life while at the same time making sense of Nicole’s death.
During this time I began to really think about God. Was Nicole with God in heaven? Is there a heaven? Is there a God? What did God think about Nicole? What is life really all about? What is the meaning, what is the point? I had so many questions that I had never thought about up until now and the questions were overwhelming. Before this moment I was just a 19 year old college student who was living life to the fullest. I had a subconscious belief that I was immortal. I never thought about death as a possibility anytime soon. We died when we were older, right? But that’s not the case because my 19 year “young” friend just died and if she died then that means that I can die and so can anyone else I love.
Life suddenly seemed so fragile to me. I began obsessing over Nicole’s last day here living. I needed to know and understand what she was thinking about in the moments before her life ended. Was she scared? Did she know what was happening? Was she in pain? I couldn’t bear the thought of the answers to any of these questions. They made me sick, but they are questions that I would ask myself everyday for the next 6 1/2 years. For some reason I needed to think about this. My thoughts became so consumed with death. It was all I could think about. I would think about it as soon as I got up in the morning and I would still be thinking about it when I lay down each night to go to sleep. I also thought about God. I thought about God a lot. Who was this God and did he really exist because right now I need him to exist because my friend can’t just be gone. She has to be somewhere watching over me….. right?
I began to feel guilty about my own life. Why is Nicole gone and I am still here? Why do I deserve to be happy when Nicole is dead? I don’t deserve to live? I was not a good friend. If I was a good friend I would have protected her and she would still be alive. I began looking at my life in a way I never had before and what I saw was awful. I saw a lot of irresponsibility and mistakes. I blamed myself for Nicole’s death and I often wished it had been me instead of her.
One of the best fuels for anxiety is guilt and right now I had a lot of guilt.
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