It’s that time of year again. The fourteenth year in a row where I don’t know how to grieve properly. My best friend died on March 4, 2000 when we were in the 8th grade. He was struck by a car and died on impact. My eyes are already filled with tears and I’m on my fifth sentence of this entry. I don’t always think about him besides this time of year, but his death was what started my downward spiral into depression and fourteen years later things haven’t changed. I will always remember my 6th grade math teacher making us get up and march around the school on “March Forth” (4th). That stupid pun and of course it falls on the day my friend died, so I never forget either.
I remember every finite detail about that day. I was in Sunday school and one of my friends whose father was a local firefighter was asked to share the information with our class, since my church was in my town and most of the kids went to my local middle school. I remember the feeling of numbness in my head, and I started shaking. My friends on either side of me grabbed my arms to steady me before I fell off the chair. I don’t know how I lasted through the hour without falling apart, but I did. As soon as class was over I went running out of the room to find my mom, who had found out in church and we both fell to shattered pieces. The 5 minute ride home felt like eternity and as soon as we told my dad, he packed up his shit, grabbed my brother, and took him fishing. That is how my family deals with their problems, and that is why I still do not know how to grieve over this loss. I remember calling my other best friend and having a conversation about the sirens that she had heard (the accident happened near her house).
I went to school the next day and was surrounded by love. Love and boxes of tissues. The school provided grievance counselors and I remember the anger I felt at how all the popular kids took advantage of getting out of class. They tortured my best friend daily. They were bullies towards him day in and day out. They did not deserve the time I needed in these groups. I can remember each person that sat in the group with me. My dad took me to the place where he died and I tied a yellow ribbon around the closest telephone pole and laid flowers at the base of it. His funeral was private so the school put together a memorial service that his temple hosted. I was the last one to speak. The day before he died he thanked me for being his friend. I wrote a letter to his parents, but they never wrote back. He was an only child and they were Croatian immigrants and I believe they moved back to Croatia after the accident.
My parents never seemed to grasp the fact that I failed to grieve. As I became increasingly depressed and rebellious through high school, they never once thought about the underlying causes of my behavior. Every behavior has a root cause, and for me, it was the death of my friend. I got a tattoo a few years ago with one hand holding another from above, with the date March 4, 2000 at the bottom and a banner that says “Hold On” at the top. I got it in memory and in honor of him. I just wish I knew how to say goodbye, since I never got the chance.