For day 19 of my Body Positivity Challenge I am thanking someone I once knew without a trace of my heart kept from him, it was more than anything I had imagined. He saw me more than anyone ever had. Someone who made me feel extraordinary. My wish is that wherever you are in this vast universe, you know the impact you had on me was irreplaceable. Your heart unparalleled magic swept me off my feet and I know that this world was undeserving of your beautiful soul.
This one is for you Jack.
It's funny how a simple photo can hold such value. A tiny glimpse of a single moment in time you memorized, each detail coming alive as it replays in your head. These photos are the only part of Jack I have left. Each one irreplaceable, each one with a different story.
He was a light, the kind of person that comes quietly out of the blue and somehow manages to lift your spirits and touch your soul instantaneously. He was raw and not afraid to discuss difficult truths and with empathetic minds. The perfectly imperfect person, that's what Jack was. As I sit here now I feel myself regret certain choices I made with him, thinking there was something I could have done differently to change the outcome of his life. A small part of me will always believe I can pick up my phone and call him, even after all this time.
If you have lost a friend or loved one from addiction I am sure thoughts like these have crept into your mind, and kept you awake as you craved the possibility of speaking to them, about everything, or nothing at all.
The day I found out Jack overdosed, I was both angry with him and angry with myself. I couldn't understand why I never reached out. For five months I hadn't spoken to him, and all the reasons I told myself till then seemed insignificant and foolish. I remember trying to call him two weeks prior after an overwhelming intuition flooded my mind, only to find his phone disconnected.
I could have tried harder. Those words repeated in my head. I could have found a way to reach out, but I didn't.
I was also angry at him, for not seeing what I saw, for never fully grasping the creative, intellectual soul that he had. His strength was inspiring and as hard as he fell, he had always managed to find goodness in the harshest situations. If only he had given himself a speck of the love he gave to everyone else.
But how can I blame him?
The kindness he gave to others was exactly what cost him his life. I know even now he wouldn't change what happened, and it breaks my heart. In the time we were together he told me how hard it was to stop drinking and doing drugs when his entire group was surrounded by it. It wasn't until after his death I realize the importance of this.
We were driving one night with my two best friends. Jack suddenly pulled over and threw up. I took over driving and asked him if he was okay, again and again. As I looked at him I felt my heart drop, he looked messed up, and unable to recognize the emptiness written on his face. It was the first time I saw him like that, how could I not have known how bad this was? Later he told me how strange it was to have people worry about him, he said if it had been his friends in that situation, they would have laughed it off and continued to drink. It made me feel sick. I couldn't imagine how that felt, being trapped with no existence of an escape.
How I wish I would have held you, and loved you, Jack. How I wish I could have stood by your side and accepted all of you, for who you were and who you would have been. You deserved this most of all, a gentle hand filled with patience, and a glimpse of light to a life you felt you never had the chance to find.
I was selfish. I let Jack go because I was afraid of going down a bad path, and by pushing him away I pushed away from the temptation of drinking and getting into drugs. It was weak, and I should have seen how much he needed someone. I let my own needs cloud my judgment, and for that, I will always be sorry.
Most importantly I want to thank you, Jack, for being the man who encouraged me to chase my dreams, and for seeing me for who I was. Thank you for creating a safe space when I felt anxious. Thank you for being a man whose actions radiated with care. You never let me down, and after your passing, I knew I couldn't let your impact go in vain. You saw such beauty in me, such worth, and I won't forget that. You could grasp all of my attention and inspire me to speak freely about the toughest of subjects. I remember us brushing our teeth as you smiled at me and told me the little things are everything. In a way, this moment taught me to cherish the present and to admire each second for what it is, especially the ones filled with love.
The disappointing part is knowing that selfless, loving people get trampled by addiction all the time. It is hard to have a heart like Jacks' in a world where people are can be so heartless. It shouldn't be this exhausting. It shouldn't be this lonely. You shouldn't have to question if you're doing it wrong by being selfless rather than selfish.
Jack, I can't change your story, but I can make it have a purpose.
Let this be a wake-up call, a breathing reminder to be stronger than we were. A beginning of a world where we are honest with each other and ourselves about our struggles, and to let our pride down long enough to ask for help. As for the people who see somebody hurting, don't be afraid. Do not create walls for selfish reasons, and do not tell yourself somebody else will help. Jack deserved better, as do countless others.
Thank you for putting a smile on my face years ago. Thank you for being a man I will always be grateful to have known. I hope you are out there proud knowing that the beautiful young woman you effortlessly embraced has come to see the worth she has. The worth that you showed me each time you looked into my eyes. You were strong for me in a way I never felt I deserved, and I only wish that one day when I find myself in the vast endless universe, you'll come to tell me of the adventures you've had. Just like before, if you'll have me, we can leap the wondrous secrets of the universe together.
Till then, I promise to continue trying to be a light and a pillar of hope to others that they are not alone, and that my company is here to be a friend to anyone who might need to be seen.