When I was 18 years old, I thought I knew it all. I was ready to be an adult and go out into the world on my own. I had a creep of a boyfriend to help guide me to that plan. I should have listened to those around me who were wiser. Well, that's what our young adult years are for, I guess. Stupid mistakes and growing up way too fast.
I lived with Bill for close to a year, then I moved back to my parents house. By the time I had moved back in with my parents I didn't know how to do anything alone anymore. I was always with friends or just hanging out in my bedroom. I didn't go out to get a coffee by myself, I didn't stop at a fast food restaurant alone, I just always had to BE with someone. I think I had become afraid of the world for one reason or another.
One person I hung around with more than any other was Kevin. When we first met at Bill's apartment, we realized we had known each other in the past. In junior high school we had met. Both of us were a little on the reserved side; neither of us had a ton of friends. Kevin and I never became close back when we were 12 years old, but we sure did after Bill and I broke up. No, we didn't date. In fact, I was dating Kevin's older brother. Kevin was one friend I can honestly say I loved like crazy but had no romantic interest in.
Kevin and I would drive around listening to music, arguing about country vs. classic rock. We would sit at the park just to watch the birds and listen to the sounds around us. Kevin would play his guitar for me while we sat around his apartment on the floor because the guys didn't have any furniture yet. It was a peaceful existence. Hanging out with Kevin was like spending the day with my brother. We could sit for long periods of time not saying a word to each other but sharing the same space. I would be reading a book; Kevin writing his songs. The only other person I have ever felt so comfortable with is Daniel.
To make a very long story short, Kevin was killed when we were 19 years old by another friend of ours. The brother who I was dating and I walked in to their apartment to find the two boys dead, and it was a very traumatic experience. I won't go into details here, but life changed that day and it changed dramatically.
My dad allowed me to sit on the couch and mope for two weeks. One day he came in and told me I have to get up and GO somewhere, anywhere. He didn't care if I went to the park to sit on the swings or if I went for a walk around the block, but I had to get up and start living life. Too many lives had already been taken, mine couldn't be included in that number. I was furious that my dad "didn't understand." Thank goodness he understand all too well that I needed to be pushed to face my fears. I don't remember where I went, but it was the first time I had left my house by myself in a very long time.
Each day I got up and did a little bit more. Rather than falling farther into the emotional hole I was starting to dig for myself I became strong again. Not only did I start to process the death of my best friend, but I started to work through the relationship that had crushed me and left me thinking so poorly of myself. Eventually I was out running around doing all sorts of things on my own. If no one wanted to join me for an activity but it was something I wanted to do I was sure to go anyway.
I will never say that Kevin's death was a good thing, but it did help to change my life. I started to realize that I was worth more than I had been giving myself credit for. I got my first degree in criminal justice, partly because I had so many questions about all that had happened that night. For years if fear held me back it was Kevin's voice telling me to live the life he couldn't that would propel me forward. Until I learned to stand on my own two feet, even in his death Kevin supported me and showed me that I WAS a person worthy of being treated well and going after my dreams.