When I was 18 years old, my former best friend passed away. I wonder what kind of person you would have become, Stefan. A memorial.
It’s been over ten years that I’ve gotten your brother’s call.
Until then, I had never thought about what happens when a person dies. I never even considered that the ones closest to them are also the ones who have to organize everything, making sure there’s a funeral and people are present for the memorial.
You came into my class in the fourth grade of primary school, after you were in recovery following your first brain hemorrhage. At first, we weren’t getting along that well. I remember that I only saw our differences. You were a countryside person, I always aspired to be in the city, you were very religious and I wasn’t.
Once, we stayed in the same room for a class trip.
I know that the two of us weren’t all that happy about that at first. But eventually, I remember this trip being very bonding. I realized that you were a kind and good person. I could never grasp how despite everything that had happened, you were still able to feel so much compassion and kindness. I always admired that.
I know that our differences in what we believed in were always hot topics between us and I remember challenging your views on religion, morals and the world regularly. But you never were annoyed with me and always up for discussions, even when I wasn’t as calm and rational as you were. Eventually, our differences kept our friendship lively.
You showed me your way of living.
And even though I sometimes felt uncomfortable seeing how diametrically different your life was from mine, you also made me realize how diverse people are. I was getting aware of having lived in my own bubble for a long time and you showed me there was a lot more out there in the world. Because of you I also started to love nature and spending time outside.
The two of us lived only ten minutes from each other and our homes were connected by a forest. In a time way before social media and before any of us had phones we made plans to meet in the middle of the forest at a certain time and we always made that work. It was so easy keeping plans with you even when it was hard to make them.
I can’t even count the number of adventures we had.
Some in our fantasy, some in real life. The forts we build in the forest, the koi fish we caught from your neighbor’s pond (which went on to live a long life in my parents’ pond), the stories we told about the witchs’ house in the woods (which sadly doesn’t exist anymore), the time we jumped of a seven-meter bridge into a lake;… all of this happened such a long time ago but I will never forget about any of it.
I have the memory of our time together right on my skin. The wolf tattoo on my right arm (which is going to be extended to a full forest scenery) is dedicated to our childhood and our time together, to nature and the forest that connected us.
When you changed schools we saw less and less of each other.
In the end, our differences probably made us drift apart. These things don’t really matter when you’re a child but the older you get the more you focus on what sets people apart. We didn’t see each other constantly anymore, maybe once a month or once every other month, maybe even less. But I remember that I often thought that I should reach out to you more often. I wish I would have.
When I heard that you had died from another hemorrhage, I was shocked and couldn’t believe it. You were just gone. And I would never see you again. I couldn’t make sense of the world anymore. How is you dying a year after your mum fair in any sense of the word? Someone once tried making sense of the situation by saying that God takes the children who believe in him the most sooner than others. Bullshit, I say. You have been such a good and upright person and you should have gotten the chance to live your full life. I know that if you had grown older you would’ve become the kind of person who would never hurt anybody intentionally. You would’ve inspired others to be better people.
Thank you for having done that for me.
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