Simple Reminders

Once again, here I am, laying in bed while my brain is scrambling thoughts one hundred miles per minute. She has a tendency to switch from happy, sleepy thoughts to stressful, scary thoughts… but not until after I spend fifteen minutes trying to squeeze into a corner, without waking my big-headed dog. I finally find half of a pillow, rest my head, and (lucky for me) I am now stressed out and overwhelmed. As a college graduate living in a college town, my biggest worry is usually something like, “Should I have bought that dress earlier? Maybe I should go back. Well, no, honestly what shoes would I even wear with it.” Although, every once in awhile, a brief thought about the fears of moving back to Des Moines, transferring jobs, leaving friends, paying off student loans, and other boring, stress-free nonsense will pop into mind as well. I usually try to drop that stuff as quickly as possible and move on to the important things in life, i.e. Grey’s Anatomy season 12. Tonight, however, was different. I haven’t posted on this page for an embarrassing amount of time; but, for whatever reason, I just really felt like I needed to post tonight and forget all about Derek and Meredith’s long-distance relationship, when Karev is going to propose, and where in the world Dr. Yang is at now. I sluggishly grabbed my laptop, signed into WordPress, and I actually had one notification!! Ironically, my one single notification read, “Happy Anniversary! You registered 2 years ago today!”

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Reflection

One year. An entire year has gone by since the day I found out my best friend was gone forever. To this day, I could very easily describe the day I found out about Anna’s death just as easily as I did in my post months ago. It feels like just yesterday, and to think and entire year has gone by is sickening.

I have been dreading this day, “one year since the worst day of your life and the day your life changed forever.”I have been dreading it for weeks. As a mental defense mechanism, I attempted to block out the thoughts of how awful ‘one year’ will be, I won’t be able to get upset if I just don’t think about it! If I just store all of memories in a little hidden box, keep myself excessively busy, and pretend like nothing is happening- nothing will happen, right?

Wrong.

Avoiding my thoughts and feelings might have been the worst plan of attack possible. I will say, realizing it has been a year since Anna’s death might actually be even harder than the day I found out she died- at least I was still in shock then. There is no more shock. I can no longer get away with thinking, “No way, it’s not possible, she’ll be back.” The wishful thinking is gone and now it is just pure reality punching you in the face (& stomach) with brass knuckles that spell “APRIL 4TH.” That’s basically what it feels like for the two weeks leading up to this very day. In the midst of being sucker punched by the invisible hand of reality, the imaginary wall barricading all of the memories, thoughts, and feelings, from my mind finally poured over the edge and took me under like a tsunami. The tears came pouring, the loneliness set in, and reality hit me over and over like a semi-truck. This is about the same time I decided that ignoring my feelings was, in fact, a horrible idea. Since these emotions had been building up for weeks, my little ‘don’t think about this stuff’ box filled up quickly and burst open like a grenade. I was still away from my family, Anna’s family, and the people who knew her best. I was still in classes, scheduled for work, and had endless amounts of stress not related to Anna’s death. I was planning on letting this all build up, then allowing it to explode when I said so, fully prepared with puppies and 7 month old nephew for immediate cheering up. Instead, it was just me.

…and my cellphone. Which comes in handy when you have a meltdown at 11:30pm on a Tuesday! As most college students are, the majority of my friends were out enjoying $1 “waters” and making wonderful (horrible) decisions. However, one friend responded with, “I know, reflection can be difficult.” I deemed this understatement of the year, but it is a perfect summary of everything that was going through my head at the time. I was simply reflecting on the past. I was thinking about what I was doing at this time last year, how I was feeling, I was simply relieving the horrible emotions and horrible feelings all over again. I was reflecting on how different my life was that Friday compared to that Saturday. I was reflecting on life before I found out and what I wish I could redo. I actually had the thought of, “If I would have just gone to work that night then..” -Seriously? WHAT WOULD THAT HAVE EVEN CHANGED, JORDON, WHAT? My point is, reflection is not only difficult- it’s torture. It’s one of the hardest things in the world to not reflect on how much better life was with Anna, but it just lets the hurt linger and linger. The reality goes from a semi-truck hitting you over and over, to a plane flying through your house and ripping you away with it, repeatedly, if that were possible.

Reflection should be on how far I have come since losing Anna. Yes, life without her sucks and it’s hard and I miss her more and more every single day- but if I think about how far I have come in accepting her death and living my life again, I know she has been pushing me along the way. At this time last year, I locked myself in my bedroom for the next 3 months, ordering delivery food, throwing it back up shortly after, not showering- essentially withering away in the shell of my body terrified to go on with my life. I didn’t think I would ever get out of that stage, and I never in a million years thought I would see any part of my old self again. I can’t even explain the changes I have gone through in this one short year, and I know I didn’t do it alone.

Life after losing someone doesn’t get easier, ever. You never miss them any less, you never wish they were here any less, and your love for them doesn’t shrink. You miss them more and more every day, you need them now more than ever, and you love and appreciate who they were to a higher degree the longer you go without them. That will never change. One year without Anna doesn’t mean I feel any differently about her death than I did one year ago. I feel exactly the same and often worse every day of my life. But one year without Anna on earth, has shown me there is hope for a future. It is possible to have life ahead of this tragedy, and not all of it is the horrible stuff I was expecting. One year is just one baby step in my life without Anna. Trying to live my life without a backbone of a friend to hold me upright is hard, it’s lonely. I often find myself searching for that person in the wrong places and depending on the wrong people, but I’m learning. It takes time to learn how to hold yourself up, when the world continues to shove you down, it’s not easy, but it does get easier as the days go on. This year is just one out of many years without Anna to come, and one out of an eternity of years with Anna, that I get to spend in Heaven- and for that, I couldn’t be more excited.

Tugging, caving, sinking, ripping

Although i have clearly been kept very busy lately between the holidays and school, I never go a day, or even 3 minutes, without a little Anna banana reminder.

First, it was Thanksgiving break. All of the college kids go rushing home for Thanksgiving break mostly for a real home-cooked meal, but secondly to be reunited with the true, life long friends from high school. My instagram newsfeed was filled with pictures of classmates igniting old friendships and reliving old memories. My snapchat ‘newsfeed’ (for lack of a better word) was filled with my new friends, smiling and laughing with their old friends, in a way that only real friends can make you laugh. Then, there was me. Cleaning my Dad’s house on the second biggest party day of the year. I wanted to go out with old classmates, I did. I wanted to see all of my old friends, but I couldn’t. I could not bring myself to go do all of these things knowing that such a big piece was missing. One day I will be able to accept the missing piece in my life, but I still could not celebrate a true ‘Thanksgiving break’ without being able to rush over to Anna’s house as soon as my family stuff wrapped up.

Next, Anna’s 22nd birthday. December 11th. The same day I got my first tattoo. “Seize the day, Family over Everything.” Anna’s 18th birthday party. December 11th either meant we were going to have a great night, or we were skyping in the library and talking about how great it was going to be to see each other so soon and have a really great night.

December 27th, 2014: One of the last days I saw Anna before heading back to college. Anna was using, I had no idea. Now, it makes sense and little things add up in my head.

Some of my fondest memories were over Christmas break. Us girls getting together to exchange gifts, staying up late and cooking literally any food we could find, driving the jeep through extreme death warning blizzards just so Anna could go to Kum & Go, wearing pajamas all day and running around the house, ordering pizza and having a 20minute debate on how to approach the pizza man if he actually turned out to be a she- a mind boggling puzzle we have yet to solve. School breaks were always the time to go home and see your real friends, the friends that have kept you grounded through it all. That’s not how it is anymore. Going home for Thanksgiving break is no where near as happy and cheery as it is for a lot of other kids, December 11th will never just be ‘December 11th’ ever again, Christmas break will never have the same cheer, relief, and relaxation it used to.

I’m currently laying here writing this post as a way to fight the urge to FaceTime Anna. I know I can’t FaceTime Anna, but I laid in bed for much too long wishing I could FaceTime Anna. My heart was literally being tugged down into my stomach before writing this. It was just today that I put together all the pieces as to why I haven’t been my happy holiday self lately, and the sequence of events that are going to happen the next few weeks for me. I honestly hadn’t even thought about what was happening at this time last year until today. Partially because I didn’t have time to think about it, but also because my mind doesn’t want to remember what was happening at this time a year ago. The thoughts just kept rushing into my head. I would remember one vague memory from last December, then all of the sudden each and every second of the month is replaying in my head. I couldn’t call Anna on her 21st birthday last year because I was in the library. Not only could I not call her, I was 33 minutes late. I know this because it was supposed to be the greatest day of our lives. I was 33 minutes late sending her a text message, she was right on time whispering in my dreams on my 21st birthday. All of these memories coming back to me, slowly but steadily, seem to build up on my chest and get heavier and heavier until I have to stop remembering and start focusing on my breathing. It feels as though my heart is gone and the memories are falling on my chest, harder and harder until they are heavy enough to fall right though the place where my heart should be. My heart had been ripped out and now just the thought of Anna is falling through me and I can’t even grasp it. That’s how quickly memories can fade. Which is also a good part about this bog, I can’t tell you how many times I read my own blog posts just to remember. Remember Anna, remember how I felt, remember how she looked, remember the smallest little memories that pop into my head when I’m writing, but completely disappear immediately afterwards. I don’t want the memories to fall through me. Anna’s memories will be forever engraved in my heart, no matter how hard it is ripped from my chest, rung out, and squeezed to it’s last beat- Anna’s memories are still there. They can never go away. And wit these posts, I have a way to always go back and remember how Christmas break used to be, what Christmas break will be one day, and who I used to be with my best friend by my side.

Stories of Reality

This semester I’m taking a creative writing class. We are supposed to be writing ‘short stories’ that we will be turning in at the end of the semester. However, I don’t want to write short stories. I don’t want to make stuff up in order to have an affect on people. I want to tell people the harsh reality of life, the way things really are, and how easy all of your lives are compared to the man sitting next to you, and the woman next to him, so on and so forth.

Our assignment today was to read a short story titled Going to Meet the Man by James Baldwin. It is a good read, but requires that you have a very strong stomach and a mind open to acceptance. During our conversation about the story, my professor read off some of his favorite quotes. One of them being something about if your writing doesn’t offend someone, than there really is no point to your work, it is more important to have someone absolutely hate your writing, than for them to just put it on the shelf and never remember it. He also mentioned that some of the best works come from authors that talk about the one topic that no one wants to hear about, talk about, or even know about- just as Going to Meet the Man had done. When I was talking about my feelings on the story I had just mentioned how much I felt that the best part of the story was the fact that he was so openly speaking of such a harsh, hidden topic. As soon as the words came out of my mouth, this blog and the responses I have got from people jumped into my head.


 

I have had people thanking me for writing, appreciative for giving others a different outlook on addicts, and just thanking me for the information they otherwise wouldn’t have known. The information on my blog isn’t new information, I didn’t find these statistics or feelings or create any of this. Everything I am writing are things that have been felt by several other people, statistics that were found by someone else– I am simply putting the information out there since no one else has. If I hadn’t lost Anna, I wouldn’t have learned this statistics. I wouldn’t be able to share this information if my best friend didn’t die. Heroin use was nothing I ever wanted to talk about, know about, and a death by overdose was absolutely something I never wanted to experience in my life. It is not something I would ever wish for any other person to experience in their life, however, it is absolutely something I love writing about. I love writing about it, in hopes that none of you do have to experience it in your life. In hopes that you will all see that pain, hurt, and disaster that is created from this monster. If you can stop one person in your life, if you can give one person any sort of information on how to help their loved one- I have succeeded. Although my posts are kind of all over the place- sad here, happy here, REALLY sad there- all in all, I hope you all can find something to share with another person, one thing that will help one person.


 

I have had a couple people message me with their personal thoughts on my writing (which I love hearing!! hint, hint), but the messages I have received are amazing. One of the first messages I received, an old high school classmate shared her experience with alcohol and pain killer addiction. First of all,  I can only imagine the amount of strength it takes from someone suffering from an addiction to share that with someone who she was never super close with, so I was already impressed. She continued to share her story, and by the end I read, “So thank you for talking about it, and telling people what it’s like. My family won’t even talk to me anymore because of it.” I couldn’t believe it. She just told me some of her most intimate thoughts, and then thanked me?! To me, hearing her story and how she related to my posts was plenty enough. That is all I ever wanted from this, was to effect one person and to help them in their recovery, overcoming their addiction, anything. I just wanted one person to listen.

So you can imagine my reaction when I then received another message from another high school classmate. This time, she thanked me for being friends with Bryant. Thanked me for being friends with Bry, and thanked me for talking about how amazing he was and just telling his story. The next sentence I read, “I don’t know where I would be without that eye opener, so I probably owe him (and you) my life.” Wow. I had to read the message about four times before I could actually process what I was reading, and afterwards, I had no words. I could not believe it. “I probably owe Bryant my lifeMY LIFE.” Bryant is gone and he is still here. He saved this persons life. I can’t stop repeating it in my head. I can’t tell you the happiness, the sadness, the joy, and just the overall overwhelming feeling I got from reading that message. I could not have been more proud to be his friend in my life.

Both of these messages I received were things no one wants to talk openly about, most people don’t want to hear about, and the person on the other side absolutely does not (but needs to) speak about. They are very personal, very real, and very hard to tell another person. That’s what makes it so important. That’s why we need to share these things. That’s what makes each and every one of us so important- the stuff that we don’t want to tell people, is the stuff we need to tell people. I never would have thought of myself as ‘a writer.’ I remember in high school, my parents would always get so frustrated that I had a better grade in German than I did in English! “You speak english! How does that happen?!” It was because I hated to read and write! So I have no idea how this blog comes out, I just know that it is important for other to hear it. This is my reality. This is happening. This happened to me. Everyone needs to know, just as much as you need to share your story. You never know who will be effected.

Warning: Here come tears

I keep photos of my friends I have lost on my bedroom wall. Some people think it’s morbid, but for me- it’s so I know I will never forget. Never forget their smiles, their laughs, their faces, I can trace every inch of them and know that I have life here left to live for my friends who do not.

The past can hurt. But the way I see it, you can either run from it or learn from it. -Lion King

I recently added this quote to my wall, right next to the faces of my friends that have passed away. I do believe there is a lot of truth in the quote. I do believe that you can let the past hurt you forever or you can learn to cope and grieve and better yourself.

I was laying here, looking at the quote, staring at Anna’s pretty smile, and in my head I kept repeating, “Anna’s dead. Anna’s dead. Anna’s dead. She’s dead. No more Anna. She’s not coming. Anna’s dead.” I can’t put these words together and have it make logical sense. Anna’s dead. It doesn’t even sound right. It’s been six months. Anna has been dead for six months. No, she can not be dead. Nothing inside me can fully accept the fact that she’s gone. I keep looking at her pretty smiling face, hearing her laugh, listening to her childish jokes, and the squeak in her voice when she would call me babe- none of it implies that she could ever be dead. What my head isn’t telling me, is that all of those things are only in my head, they aren’t in front of me anymore. They are no longer things I can share with the world. I can’t call Anna and hear those things, they’re only in my head. They will stay in my head forever.

I keep trying to picture her laying in the casket, and the casket driving away with my best friend’s body inside, but it still will not click. My head still can not accept it. She can’t have left me here. A young, beautiful girl like Anna can not be dead. She isn’t. She is my best friend and I can’t not have her.

I look at Anna, Bryant, Brandon- it can’t be real. They are all such young, attractive people. There is no way they are gone. To this day it is still hard for me to believe Bry is really gone. I had watched the video of his car in flames thirty times, and it still is not real. I listened to the most heart breaking speeches of my life dedicated to Bryant, and he still can’t be gone. I stared at Brandon in his casket, and it still doesn’t seem real.

When someone close to you passes away, it almost makes you crazy. You can’t even fathom life without them, and in your head it is very hard to live a life without them. There is not a second of the day that goes by when I don’t think of Anna. Every stupid thing I do, I can hear myself saying, “Anna would say this.. Anna would do that… I should call Anna and tell her.”

Some people say this feeling goes away. That one day, you stop thinking those things and you finally accept it, but I really don’t know if I could. I don’t know if I can accept life without Anna’s laugh. I hear that she is dead, and it’s just not real to me. Emotionally, I don’t think she could ever be gone. There are days it hurts, it rips me apart to know I can’t call her or hug her or listen to her. But other days, it’s almost like a warmth, the happiness that I still have her inside me, that I can still hear her voice. I play it over and over in my head, so I never forget it. I never want to forget it. I will never forget her. She will never be gone. She will never be dead. As long as I have her inside me.

The Past

The past quickly becomes irrelevant in times like these. It’s weird to think that last year, at this same time, I would have never been having the same thoughts I am now.

Recently, Anna’s long time boyfriend requested to be my friend on facebook. They have their own history, and there was a point in time when I had my own opinions of their relationship that Anna was not happy about. He is now also an addict in recovery. Many of the later months of their relationship involved addiction, and I have had a bad taste in mouth towards the relationship for a long time.

When your best friend overdoses on heroin, you immediately find someone to blame. It was obviously not my Anna that chose to use this drug in the first place. It was someone else who pressured her into using, and they are the sole reason why she is gone. Anna’s boyfriend, we’ll call him.. Mitch– was my outlet for the blame. Since Anna’s death, in my head, it was all Mitch’s fault. He’s the one who made her use (I didn’t know this to be true, but I wanted it to be true), and he is the reason she is dead. When I received the facebook friend request from Mitch, my heart dropped. I had so much I wanted to scream at him, yell at him, punish him for, and now he wants to be my friend.

It took me a good three days before I finally accepted the request. There was a time in the first couple years of Mitch and Anna’s relationship that we were all really good friends. Anna, Mitch, and I would all hangout, I would go over to his house, hang out with his family, and we just all had a really close connection. Part of me remembered that Mitch, and eventually my anger suppressed, and I accepted the request.

As I sat there, slowly creeping and pondering the memories we all had together- it hit me.

I don’t even know the story. I don’t know who used what when, who told who it was a good idea, who instigated what, where the drugs came from. Mitch dated Anna for nearly 6 years. He loved her, and she loved him. How am I going to sit here and blame all of this on him when he is suffering just as bad as I am, when I don’t even know the truth?? I finally broke down, and sent him a message on facebook. To sum it up, I basically just poured my heart out into the message. I told him how much I hated him, how much I didn’t actually hate him, but wanted to hate him, how bad I felt for hating him, how broken I was because of our situation, how badly I wanted him to be clean, and I made a point to remind him how much he meant to Anna. He was Anna’s world, the love of her life. She told me multiple times she would absolutely spend the rest of her life with him. Mitch is not a bad person– they had been through a lot together, and both made bad choices. Mitch lost his Dad three years ago, and from there Mitch and Anna’s life together seemed to tumble down a rocky road.

I honestly didn’t know how to talk to Mitch anymore. I didn’t know what to say, and after I sent the message it almost felt like I was cheating on Anna by talking to Mitch without her. It was very strange, but when I got the first phone call from him- I immediately burst into tears. It was so good to hear from him again, and it really felt like the old Mitch was back. We talked for a half hour, and he filled me in on some of the story. The one thing that stuck out the very most was hearing him say, “There is not a second of the day that goes by that I don’t wish I was dead and Anna was still here. She was so much of a better person than me, and she didn’t deserve this. I did.”

I broke into tears, and my heart shattered at the very same moment. Honestly, I have felt the same way. I have wished I could take Anna’s place and she could have mine. That can’t happen. I could hear Mitch’s voice breaking as he continued to elaborate on his feelings of brokenness, loneliness, and pain since losing Anna.

At the moment, I realized nothing from the past mattered. Anna is gone and she isn’t coming back. She would be so angry with me if she knew I was just shutting the door on him, not caring if he got clean or made something of himself. She would be so mad at me for not pushing him to do what she wanted from him the entire time. She wanted me to approve of him the whole time, and the last few years I couldn’t. Now, all of that is gone. It happened, and who am I to put the blame on him and not care if another family goes through this again because I’m bitter about my friend’s life that is no longer here? I had tears streaming down my face, but I was trying to smile as I’m listening to Mitch tell me about how well his recovery is going. He was telling me how thankful he is for being in the program he is in now, and that it literally saved his life. If he wasn’t in this program, he honestly did not believe he would still be alive. He told me out of respect for Anna (and himself) he refuses to ever touch another pill again, no heroin, nothing. He can finally think clearly now that he’s sober, and all he wants is to make things right with her. Staying clean and making something of himself is his way of doing that.

As hard as it was to get the courage to finally talk to Mitch, I am so thankful I did. I will always think of him as Anna’s boyfriend, but I can hear and feel Anna thanking me from above for being there for him. He has no one who really knew Anna in his corner, and he thanked me for speaking to him. I know Anna is smiling as she says, “Aw, babe. Dude, thank you so much. This why I love you!!”

How can it be?

I know a lot of my writing is just me expressing feelings- hatred, sorrow, love, and grieving- toward Anna and the entire situation. However, today a whole new light was shed over me.

I was at work until 3am Friday night, knowing I was to be at my second job again at 7am. I have made these shifts work frequently in my past, and was mentally prepared to do it again. I got home around 3:15am Friday night and I could not sleep for the life of me. I laid in bed, not thinking about anything, not worrying about anything- simply content, but not tired enough to somber my body. As I lay there, hugging Anna’s robe, rolling over every half hour to check the time- I could not pin point the reason for my insomnia. I rolled over again at 6:54am, and shut off my alarm that was set for 6:55. I continued to lay in bed, nothing major crossing my mind other than the fact that I knew I was going to be exhausted during my eight hour shift. I needed to get myself together. Finally, I rolled out of bed, got ready, and with some help from McDonald’s breakfast menu and a very, very large iced coffee I was ready to take on my shift.

I was nearing the end of the shift, thirty minutes to go, when I received a phone call from my Dad’s fiancé. It wasn’t unusual for her to call me, but something didn’t feel right. I called her back on my work phone, fifteen minutes left in my shift, and I hear, “Jordon, I need you to stay calm okay?” The most terrifying words a daughter can hear. I did my best, but the fear of my father being in pain and sickness got the best of me. The tears started flowing, and refused to stop. My father was in the hospital with severe abdominal pains, and my fifteen year old brother was the hero that drove him there. There was something blocking his small intestine, and he was filled with tubes to help correct it. I was able to speak to him, and he sounded just like my Daddy, which helped to ease my nerves. He was tired, I told him I loved him, and he went back to sleep.

An hour passed, and my grandma called me to tell me he was going into surgery. Of course, this sent me into panic mode. What if he’s allergic to the sedatives? (He’s had surgery before, unnecessary Jordon) What if this, what if.. STOP! This continued in my head for the next hour and a half until I got the call that surgery was over. During that time, I had made three trips from my old house to my new apartment moving my things. My dad was supposed to be there to help, and this was the first time I felt like he wasn’t there because he physically could not be there, not because he was too busy. My dad was always there for me, no matter what. I felt empty and alone. It was my daddy, my big, strong, tough Dad- in surgery. Out cold, being cut open. The tears were on and off until I finally got a call from my grandma that my dad was doing well, surgery went great, and he was sleeping. It had been the best case scenario and they didn’t have to remove his intestine, just open a pinched piece of scar tissue.

I was relieved, happy about having my new apartment, and excited to spend time with my friends without fear tugging on my soul. One thing led to another, and there I was sitting in the middle of downtown when the fear came back and the realization that my dad had just overcome emergency surgery three months after I lost my best friend. I had a bit of a break down, and finally took it upon myself to go home. I felt weak, empty, and hungry! I stopped by the walking taco stand to grab a bite to eat, without knowing what was coming next.

As I was soberly, patiently waiting my turn- A groom and his obvious group of groomsmen following behind him like ducklings, causally made their way in front of me. They clearly needed to soak up the alcohol in their system, so I didn’t say anything, but just let them by. The woman working the stand said something to the men, who apologized and asked me how my night was going. I looked at them, tears beginning to fill my eyes, I replied, “It’s horrible actually. But I’ll be okay. Congratulations on your wedding! Where’s the wife?” My weak attempt at a subject change did not fly with Mr. Groom. The groom looked at me, apologized, gave the woman money for my meal and asked me what had happened. Everything immediately poured out of me, the fact the I had lost my best friend, the surgery.. The words came out before I knew what I was saying. The groom looked at me and said, “You know what? I’m 32 years old, I just got married. I had buried way more than you at your age. By the time I was 21 I had buried five friends to suicide. I can tell you right now- it sucks. You’re going to lose people you love so dearly and it’s miserable. You keep thinking, ‘Why do I keep meeting these people when they all just die?’ I can tell you right now, it’s because you are a better person from it. You are a better friend to those around you, you can show more compassion to those you love, and you will never forget a single memory. You will become stronger from it, it sucks right now but just wait.”

How can it be that I met this man (who was possibly blacked out drunk), at a walking taco stand for goodness sake, downtown Iowa City, an hour after his wedding– still willing to take the time to stand there and tell me exactly what I needed to hear? A complete stranger! How does that happen? It doesn’t happen. Unless someone made it happen, for a reason. Just like everything else we have thrown at us. There is happiness in every dark storm, we just have to hold on tight until we figure out where it is and how to grasp it.

Funny, isn’t it?

Last night as I was chatting with an old friend of mine, I was telling her Anna’s whole story and my struggles that came along with it. When I was finished, she said to me, “It just makes me so mad. Like, my uncle is 38- he’s been using heroin his whole life, he will go to prison for a year, get out and be clean for a few months before he’s using again, and he really doesn’t even want to get clean. Why did it have to be Anna, so young and wanting so badly to get clean, instead of someone like my uncle who doesn’t even care to stop using and care about getting clean at all. He barely has anything going for him anymore, why did it have to be her?”

 

And for the first time, I actually believed what I was saying when I replied, “You know, I used to wonder the same thing- but now, I’ve finally come to the conclusion that it was Anna for a reason. If someone like your uncle had passed- not as many people would be affected by it, people would almost expect it to happen at this point. If it was him, it would just confirm the alledged stereotype of drug addicts. Before all this, if you asked me what a heroin addicted looked like I would say- an old man, lots of wrinkles, long hair, sitting next to a dumpster on Skid Rowe shooting up- that’s just the image that came to my head. I would have always kept that vision of a heroin addict, and I would continue not to give a crap about those people. I, and many others, needed a punch in the stomach before we realized that addicts are people, they are deserving, and they need my help. Which is why it was Anna, who knew and loved everyone she met- so that it would affect so many people, and people would start realizing what is happening. It was an eye opening experience for hundreds of people, and those hundreds of people wouldn’t be able to help another hundred people if it wasn’t Anna that passed away.”

 

Everyone has that feeling after losing someone. The thought of, “Why couldn’t it have been me? Take me don’t take them.” I can’t tell you how many countless times I have yelled at God for taking Anna away when she had so much going for her, and so much life inside of her- that why couldn’t he have taken me? I looked up to Anna in such a way that I saw her life to be more important than mine even. THAT’s how important and special she was. She was not just an ordinary girl- which is why so many people were so devastated to hear the news. It took me days, months, just to get over the shock of her death. To this day I can still stay that I have yet to fully accept her death, but I can say that I have a small idea of why it was her death. I would not be as motivated for my future goals, my future career, and the rest of my life if I hadn’t lost her. I would have never given addiction the time of day or even a small glimpse of a thought. I would have continued on my original career path, with a little motivation but not much, and not really knowing what the meaning of my life was. Now I know, I know I’m meant to be doing this. I meant to do DEA or drug rehab work, and there is nothing that could have motivated me more than losing my best friend.

I know so many other people have gained so much more insight since she has passed as well. People are learning about addiction, learning about heroin, and watching so many young people being judged because of their wrong choice, and eventually losing their lives due to the wrong choice. Anna was a child when she passed. She was twenty-one years old. Statistically she had lived just over one-fourth of her life before it abruptly ended. She was still dependent on her parents, who raised her her entire life, she was still in the process of making bad choices and learning from them- just like all twenty-one year old children do. How many children does the world need to lose before you step up to help save them? Not every twenty-one year old child is lucky enough to have parents that love and care for them as much as Anna did- and those children can potentially lose their lives a lot sooner, or stay here a lot longer being completely miserable, living in hell, with no bright light at the end of the tunnel- no way for them to get help because they have no one left to care for them. Without help from our society, more and more children are going to lose their lives to addiction because there is no one there to stand behind them and  give them a chance to get the help they are longing for. Twenty-one year olds who’s family has given up on them, refuses to care for them any longer don’t have $30,000 to get rid of the monster that is eating away at them. They shouldn’t have to have $30,000 in order to be themselves again. All in all- more and more children are going to keep losing their lives, until more and more parents have to suffer through the worst experience they could even imagine- or we can put an end to it all now, and stand up against it before it gets to that point. We can’t do it alone, and the more people who know that this is happening- the more people that will help. Stop hiding it under a rug and being ashamed of who your family members are or were- speak out and help save someone else’s family member. Stop being selfish and thinking your reputation is more important than another person’s life.

Ignorance

Every day I am more and more amazed by our society and their complete lack of respect for themselves, and especially for others around them. Ignorance and disrespect is nothing new to our society, and it has been happening for many years. With all of the changes we have implemented, trying desperately to make ourselves into a whole, equal society- how come we never seem to find respect for each other?

During the time of slavery and discrimination, people obviously had no respect for each other. What’s worse, they had no logical reasoning behind their actions. Simply ‘because he/she is black,’ was a fair enough reason to spit on somebody as they walked by. How? What makes their inside any different than your inside? Nothing. MLK Jr. made that point, and proved to the world that we are all exactly the same. When my mother was younger, (after MLK Jr. had changed the idea of discrimination) as a mixed baby being raised by two white parents, others would continue to say disrespectful comments to her parents. In the seventies, my grandparents were walking through the grocery store with my mother in the cart. Another person had the nerve to ask, “What are you doing with a nigger in your cart?” They were speaking of a four-year-old baby. Can you imagine? How can you disrespect such an innocent soul, at such a young age.

We all wish to think that disrespect in these ways cease to exist in today’s society. Homosexual couples are now allow to be married, our president is black, so clearly the world has changed! People hardly even see color any more, and if they do- it’s typically to compliment someone on their beautiful skin tone.

If only that were true. If it isn’t one type of discrimination it’s another. If someone is rude to us at the store we automatically assume that are a huge b**** and they deserve whatever horrible karma comes their way- but what if they just lost their job? Lost their house? Is trying to leave an abusive relationship? You have no idea what is happening in their life. You have no reason to shun them for one rude action. What if you respond to their action by saying, “I hope you have a better day.” And that person bursts into tears because you are the first person in their life to care for them.

The discrimination that now hurts me the most in today’s society is the way people view addicts and recovering addicts. Many of you know that Des Moines has suffered multiple heroin overdose deaths since Anna died, and most recently was a young man from Roosevelt High School. The story was on the local news, and Anna/Anna’s Warriors was mentioned in the story. The stiry is absolutely horrendous and so wrong it makes me sick- but that is for another post. The part that really got to me was the online comments being made about the story on the KCCI website.

I quote, “Look at the bright side: with every overdose death there’s one less addict.”

How can you, as another person living in the dark world we live in, honestly think that way? What makes your live more valuable than the one who accidentally died? What are YOU doing with YOUR life that gives you the right to find the death of another person has a ‘bright side?’ It is mind boggling to me that people actually think this way of another human. Especially when they are saying it about my best friend. We are all people. People are people. We are not defined by the choices we have made, and no one should be judged by the mistakes they have made. Half of the people living on the streets, half of the people using drugs, they all have a bigger heart and more love than most of you reading this- because they are living in the worst hell they could ever imagine. Many of them are in this hell because they are masking such intense emotions. They would never wish that upon anyone else, and because of that- their love for others is amazing. They know they have made wrong choices, they are not proud of their drug use, but they are proud of each and every one of you who have never used drugs and most of them would give anything to be sure that you never do use drugs. So please- think about what you’re saying, think about how you’re comparing and judging people, think outside the box about who they could have been before and after using drugs or becoming an addict. The one who died of cocaine overdose because he was in med-school up studying all night on cocaine- could have cured cancer. Yes they made a wrong choice, but that doesn’t mean their life is not worth living.

Think about it. Think about who you are and how you look at those around you.

And never judge someone by their actions again.

Warrior

Now that I have reached 1,500 views, I guess I should probably mention why the title of this page is called “warrior,” considering most of my messages are about death and heroin addiction. To some, that doesn’t sound like much of a warrior. Here is why.

According to dictionary.com:

warrior: (war-ee-er, wawr-yer, wor-ee-er, wor-yer) 1. a person engaged or experienced in warfare; soldier. 2. a person who shows or has shown great vigor, courage, or aggressiveness, as in politics or athletics.

According to the World English Dictionary:

unknown soldier or warrior: (in various countries) an unidentified soldier who has died in battle and for whom a tomb is established as a memorial to other unidentified dead of the nation’s armed forces.

Merriam Webster dictionary:

warrior: a man engaged or experienced in warfare; broadly :  a person engaged in some struggle or conflict <poverty warriors

And lastly, the online Urban Dictionary:

warrior: A person who beyond all obstacles still manages to be successful. A warrior will often be troubled in life, but will persevere in the end.
Socially, a Warrior will often be down to earth, functioning entirely off of what they perceive as logic. While this can lead to arrogance and stubbornness, a Warrior has a soft center, and can be befriended with ease by anyone knowing how to reach it.
Often intelligent, strong, determined, and skillful. A Warrior, despite whatever problems they may have, is perfect. In their own way, each Warrior is perfect.

All of these definitions come together to create a new definition of a warrior, my definition of a warrior.

Warrior: a man or woman, who chooses to fight a battle, even if they know it can not always be won. A warrior is not perfect, but does not squander their time on personal issues. A warrior learns from their imperfections, and shares their lessons with the world. No matter how big or how small the challenge, a warrior fights with the same determination and strength in order to succeed. A warrior never gives up. A person who fights vigorously for themselves and for the people around them. A warrior is selfless, willing to make large sacrifices. A true warrior takes charge and shows initiative to help others win their battle, doing whatever it takes in order to succeed. A warrior is someone who carries on their legacy, their fight, their strength, and their determination to win the battle, even after they are gone.

That is my understanding of a warrior, and my understanding of who my best friend was and still is. Anna made the choice to use heroin, but she also made the choice to change. She went to rehab, she fought the horrible disease in her brain. She prevailed, and she went through the worst hell anyone can imagine to do so. Anna was not perfect, she did relapse (along with the other 90% of opioid addicts in the first year after treatment), but Anna went back to rehab. She went back to detox and put herself through an intolerable misery again. She continued to fight, she never stopped fighting. She had journal after journal after journal of her struggles, changes she made, and her thoughts throughout her trying times. She was determined to get clean, determined to make a change for herself and for her family. She never wished to hurt anyone, and she knew that her actions were killing those around her, and she was willing to put herself in copious amounts of pain in order to see happiness in those people.

In the end, Anna did pass away. BUT Anna did not lose the battle. She is still fighting. Anna sacrificed her life in order for the rest of us to see what heroin can do and is doing to so many amazing people. God took Anna, one of the greatest warriors there was, in order for those of us who are still here to become warriors as well, and to succeed in Anna’s fight against addiction. Anna didn’t give up when she relapsed the second time, she was making a point to prove the true power of addiction. She shared with us the lesson she was forced to learn the hard way. Anna saved all of us the trouble of being put through such a hell, by simply showing you her hell. I would have never had a clue about heroin addiction, lack of care in rehab facilities, extreme expenses to get help, or the power opioids have over the brain to create such a strong addiction- without first losing Anna. Anna is one of, if not the, best person I have ever known, and for this I know she left me here, with her family, because she knew we would never stop fighting for her. She knew we could be the ones to step up and make a change in so many of the one-minded, stubborn people in our world that refuse to see the bad that is surrounding them. That is why Anna’s family created “Anna’s Warriors,” because that is exactly what we are, what Anna is, and what we are doing. We are fighting for Anna, Anna’s battle, and we sacrificed the most amazing person we knew without wallowing in our grief- but instead using it as motivation to save the rest of you, your family members, your friends, from experiencing anything like what we have been forced to go through. Along the way, we will continue to pick up more warriors until we have a fully stacked, impregnable army to fight Anna’s fight of addiction and raising awareness of drug use. It is not a race, together all we have to do is save one soul at a time, and we will succeed: together.

The Recovering Addict

After getting to spend the last couple weekends home, it’s amazing how much I have learned.. about everything! We were so lucky that Anna’s best friends from Nevada were able to come visit and stay with Carla, and I was able to spend a lot of my time over there catching up with the girls.

We had our share of ups and downs during the trip, but I soon learned it was all part of Anna’s plan. Nancy and Kathryn have been such a help in explaining to me how the mind of an addict and addict in recovery works. They have allowed me to ask nosey questions in order to pick their brains as an attempt to understand. They explained the details of addiction in a ‘dumbed’ down version, so that my (very innocent to addiction) self could better understand what they meant. Everything, good and bad, that happens now seems to always relate back to something Anna said before or some scheme she’s up to in heaven. I, personally, over the last couple weeks have learned a very hands on approach to what addictive behaviors look like. How the behaviors and mind of an addict are truly warped from this world and so far out of their control. After explaining all of the occurrences to Carla, she said to me, “Can you imagine Anna being that way?” That’s when I knew that Anna was trying to show me what it was like for her and how hard she struggled without any control over what she was doing, so that I can share that with you and help you to also understand what goes on.

Not every addict is exactly the same- some steal, some don’t. some manipulate with tears, some manipulate with pity, some feed off the people that love them most, some feed off of the helpful people who don’t know them at all, some are incredibly mean, some overly nice in order to receive care and affection, some push their families and friends away, some keep them close and use them as a crutch. Now matter the form in which the behaviors are being done, they are still doing them one way or another.

For me to really see it hands on was quite the experience! I fell into the trap as quickly as I’m sure most parents and close friends would. When I saw the way people that had previously dealt with addicts could spot these behaviors, their reactions to the behaviors, and observations the could make almost instantly- I was amazed! Even just saying something a different way, would change the behavior of the addict. If I were to say, “Don’t worry, I can lend you $5 for toothpaste and a soda.” The response would be, “Well, I actually need $10 because I really want to stop and get McDonald’s too.” But when someone can spot the behaviors of an addict, their response is, “Let’s go get you what you need, and nothing more. No you’re not going in alone I’m going with you.” and suddenly, that was the end of it. No more manipulation to suck more out of someone. When an addict says, “I’m going to a meeting now.” You can’t just hand them the keys and off they go. The correct behavior is for you to drop them off, walk them in, and pick them up afterwards. (Or have your sneaky friends with connections check up on who is attending the meeting that day.) Many parents have no idea how to respond to the behaviors of an addict. Even when their child is clean for days, weeks, months- the behaviors still tend to come out on occasion. As a friend, I would have no idea how to deal with the behaviors. That is a scary thought to know that we are allowing them to continue these behaviors without making a change, simply because we don’t know how to respond. We don’t want our child/friend to think that we don’t love them, don’t trust them even though they did make such a big life change, or that we don’t want to help them now that they’ve been sober. So what do we do?? When it seems like they are suffering so badly, do we just let them suffer? No, you get them proper help and care. Take them to a professional who knows what they are doing.  Unfortunately, many financial means do not allow for everyone to get immediate, professional care. There are resources to help for free! Check out this link for a list of centers around you.

Addiction is truly, truly not something that one can control on their own. Most of the time, the addict doesn’t even realize what they’re doing until someone snaps them out of it. They don’t catch onto their behaviors because everyone is feeding into them and not telling them they are wrong. We don’t want to cause any pain to our loved one, or send them into a place where they are contemplating relapse, so instead we just go along with the behaviors and allow them to treat us poorly. That is not the right thing to do. People who have friends that are addicts or family members that are addicts should have a class or resource for online lessons that will teach them how to cope and behavior with recovering addicts in the home (another one of my personal issues with addiction facilities and treatment centers). Right now, we are sending the addict home from rehab, family thinking they are perfectly healed and can go about business as usual, but that is not the case. The need boundaries. In rehab, they have a set time to wake up, a set time for lunch, group meetings at certain times- a very strict schedule. In order for the recovery process to continue working so well, these things need to continue to be implemented when they leave the center. Giving them a free schedule with plenty of free time allows the addict to pick up old behaviors and friends almost immediately. The recovering addict also cannot be stuck in a little box while trying to figure out how to live life while being clean. It can lead to depression, causing another psychological issue that needs to be treated, and again leading to a relapse.

Living with an addict very closely resembles living with a handicap that can function alone, but needs to be monitored for the half of the day. It is not an easy task. I applaud any family that is willing to take their child back in and give them the help and stability they need because it is not easy for them to do. I can imagine it would be very frustrating having to babysit your thirty-year-old son the same way you did when he was thirteen- but it has to be done for a least the first few months post inpatient rehab. They need to get back on their feet, meet new people that aren’t triggers, and create a schedule for themselves that includes commitments they simply cannot miss (i.e. a close knit AA group that counts on their arrival, exercising with their sponsor who picks them up from home, a concrete work schedule, volunteering in places they enjoy and want to be, etc.) Anything to keep them busy and on track, without suffocating them completely from normal life. I can imagine it would be hard as the addict to do come home and have to do all of these things that they are not accustomed to, and I’m sure they often fight back- causing more stress and tension between family members, but it is so necessary. It’s not as easy as it seems, and people don’t understand the stress and difficulty behind it for the friends and family involved. Families and friends need to be educated on these things; only educating the addict and putting them right back into their trigger city is not going to keep them clean forever- some people, yes, but many young people need more motivation and supervision than only relying on themselves.

You don’t know

With as much research, books, and articles I have read, I still don’t understand the drug. I don’t understand addiction, because I have not been faced with the disease. Smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol are a completely different addiction than a drug addiction. A drug addiction is completely different from a heroin addiction. From speaking with other addicts, listening to Carla tell me how badly Anna hated her addiction, I have come to understand one thing- heroin is not just a mental addiction. It is a physical addiction. Someone trying to quit smoking after smoking for 15 years is typically going to be very irritable, annoyed, uncomfortable, and distracted. Someone who is addicted to heroin and hasn’t had their hit for the day- can’t get out of bed, can’t eat, can’t function. Even if they wanted to move, if they were hungry, if they wanted to go lay on the couch instead of bed- they physically can not do anything without the drug. It’s not a little voice in their brain or a little itch on their leg that they can just block out and keep living normally. The receptors in their brain have been re-formed and their neurotransmitters have created new pathways that will not allow their body to preform without first having the drug. They no longer have the same pathways as you and me. They have a whole new way of thinking, after just one hit.

Part of rehabilitation process is attempting to once again, create more new pathways, so that the body no longer has to function with drug. It is always a constant battle for someone with a previous heroin addiction. For the rest of their lives, they will be labeled as ‘an addict in recovery.’ Heroin addiction is so strong that every single day is a constant fight against the neurotransmitters in their brain. How many of you are strong enough to over come the thoughts about your financial stress, problems at work, the things you forgot on your to-do list that keep you up for hours when you’re trying to fall asleep? Imagine those thoughts, times ten, every second of the day. That is what an addict in recovery is going through. Eventually, these thoughts become less and less, until something triggers the old pathway in their brain to light up. There they are again, trying to fight back against their brain. Can you imagine? Can you imagine what they are going through? I don’t care if they chose to shoot up in the beginning- they did not chose to be living a constant battle, every day, against the most powerful thing on this earth: their own brain. Honestly, (before learning more about it) I would think that if I were to do it one time- I would be able to fight the urge to do it again. I’m strong enough to fight back. Yeah, well, that is how I think before my normal brain pathways are completely reconfigured. The brain I have now is not the brain I would have after using heroin.

Stop looking at addicts like it’s their own fault they got there. Stop judging them by what you think you know. You don’t know. You know nothing. Many addicts in recovery are one hundred times stronger than you will ever be. Stop treating them as worthless people. They were just like you- until a monster took over everything they have ever known. Yes, it was their choice to use, but the consequences were not their fault. That is the world we live in that offered them the drug in the first place, us doing nothing to get these drugs off the streets, the rest of us treating them scum, doing nothing to help them, and watching them suffer a battle that none of us could ever fight ourselves.

Brian, Anna’s uncle, shared with me  what a previous addicted shared with him:

What do you do when you really have to pee? You hold it.

What do you do when you’ve held it for 3 hours and you can’t hold it anymore? You pee yourself.

That’s what a heroin addiction is. It becomes an involuntary bodily function. They hold back from using as long as possible, but there comes a point when they can’t hold it anymore. The addiction takes over their brain and it is no longer their choice, they can’t fight it any longer.


I truly believe that is why God gave me Anna. I was a very judgmental person to drugs and addicts before Anna’s death. Anna never told me about her addiction because she knew I would freak out and start running in circles like a chicken with it’s head cut off without a clue on what I was supposed to do. I would have probably laughed and prayed that she was joking.. and then poop myself because of the fact that my best friend is driving me around in her jeep high on heroin. I don’t associate with heroin- how could this happen to me? Anna’s two best friends are criminology majors in college- how is she addicted to heroin, doesn’t she know better? I was just like everyone else who has never known what an addict goes through. I believe part of the reason God gave me Anna, the most beautiful person I have ever known, was to show me the truth- and so I can share that truth with the rest of the world, to give a bigger inspiration to follow my criminology track and fight back against the jerks selling this crap. People can be so ignorant and heartless. Until you walk a mile in their shoes, shut your mouth- shame on you. You don’t know. You don’t want to know.

Image

Throughout my life I will have times of strong faith in God, times of weak faith, and times of complete doubts, so I am absolutely not one to be preaching. However, this time is different. Some of you will understand when I ask- have you ever gotten that feeling after someone passes that their whole life was planned out for an exact reason? Like the time they told you to “live a little,” and put your convertible top down in 36 degree weather- was actually a sign that life would eventually be taken too short? That the only way any of the things that can be happening around you is because God is continuing to put them there, at exactly the right time, exactly when you need it, without anyone else even knowing? 

Thinking back on Anna’s life.. It’s crazy how many things have happened since she passed that prove to me she is with God in Heaven, but that her time here was done for a reason and God had a plan the entire time, and we never even noticed it.

After sorting through 81 entries on Anna’s obituary guestbook I finally found the one I was looking for:

“I am a total stranger to Anna and her family, and have no knowledge of the circumstances of her death. Her obituary in the Des Moines Register just happened to catch my eye. What an eloquent, beautiful, and moving statement about who was apparently a very special young woman. The fourth and fifth paragraphs of the obituary, which I am taking at face value, describe a person who only comes into our lives once or twice, if we are lucky. Cherish your memories. -Gary Norby”

Even still reading that comment brings tears to my eyes. Mr. Norby is so very right. You really do only meet one or two people in the world with life like Anna. What if this was really the plan all along? What if this is what was supposed to happen, so that Anna’s story can change the world and the way people treat addicts? What if THIS girl starts an epidemic? What if God planned this entire time for Anna’s death and the start of the non-profit, “Anna’s Warriors,” to change drug rehabilitation completely? What if, ten years from now, our world is completely different, because God sent us this little earth bound Angel. I mean, that is why I’m here, writing this, because God sends Anna to me (in various ways- yelling at me in my head, dropping lighters everywhere, speaking to me in my dreams about who’s 3 weeks pregnant and they still don’t know yet…) to tell me whatever she wants, and this time- she told me to write this blog, to share her story and my story of losing a beautiful best friend to a heroin overdose. Although she also told me this blog was going to explode, and everyone would hear my story (she went as far as showing me a picture in a dream of ME on the today show, sharing her story) and that this would somehow turn into a world wide publicized thing– I’m not going to hold my breath on that one. If ONE person hears Anna’s story, makes a difference, or changes the way they look at people- I can rest happily.

Way back when..

The first time I met Miss Anna was in fourth grade. I was new to school, and I still remember Abi, Sarah, Anna, Stephanie as the ‘popular girls’ in the class. I knew no one, but they were all very welcoming on my first day of school. I have always seen myself as easy to get along with, but in fourth grade at a new school, it is very intimidating to talk to anyone. Anna always had the cool new shoes, the best outfits, and was the most fun to be around. Her and Sarah were allowed to walk home every day BY THEMSELVES, while I had to wait in line for the bus. The walkers got out of class five minutes earlier than the bus riders, which was a big deal in fourth grade. Being a ‘walker’ alone made you ten times cooler than the rest of us. One day Sarah invited me to walk home with her– I was on the rise, popularity level skyrocketed in my eight-year-old brain. Since Anna’s house was on the way, Anna walked with us too. I’m pretty sure at that point I was still too scared to say anything other than ‘hi,’ but it didn’t matter because I was a “walker” now- the coolest kid in school. The year continued on, and Sarah invited me to her sleepover birthday party in June, so by now I basically ran the school. I was leaving for camp the next morning, but my parents allowed me to go and my grandfather picked up me at seven am sharp. There were so many girls there that were so cool I didn’t even know what to do with myself. I didn’t have a sleeping bag, so I slept in Sarah’s round chair and she gave me a blanket. Although it was one of the more uncomfortable nights of my life, I will never forget how great it felt to be included.

As fifth grade came around, I was still friends with the same popular girls, and I was still rather socially awkward. One day I got up enough courage to invite Anna to MY house. I don’t remember much about what we did, but I do remember my Mom being very angry with Anna. My Mom worked for my Dad doing his accounting stuff for his business, and she often had papers spread out everywhere. Anna and I were being nine-year-olds and doing whatever we could find possible to annoy my Mother. Anna was fidgeting with my moms papers, and my Mom politely asked her to please not touch the papers. My Mom looked back down at her work, and the next thing she hears is riiiip. Anna had picked up a paper and tore the corner just to see how my Mom reacted. I, personally, thought it was the coolest thing ever because I could never disappoint my Mother like that, so in my mind Anna had just got even cooler than cool. However, Mom didn’t agree and decided it was time for Anna to go home IMMEDIATELY. One of the things I had admired about Anna all eleven years of our friendship was the fact that she could care less what people thought of her. She would do what she wanted to do, and if someone didn’t like it- screw them.

On the drive home, Anna was supposed to be giving my Mom directions to her house. (This was way back before GPS, kids.) Anna didn’t always know where she was or what was going on around her, she was very easily distracted. I’m laughing while typing that sentence because of the fact that it is so true, and completely hilarious to watch Anna try to focus on anything for more than four seconds. We get to the main road by Anna’s house and my Mom is still very angry about her torn paper (cry baby). My Mom asks Anna if she is supposed to turn soon, and Anna replies, “Wait, where are… oh yeah you were supposed to turn back there. My house is back there on the corner.” REALLY? This sent my Mom into freak out, hyperventilating angry mode, and she whipped the car around. Needless to say, my Mother was more than happy to have miss Anna banana out of the car. Anna had no clue my Mom was even upset, and IM’d be about how much fun she had after she had arrived home in one piece.

This is the Anna I knew in the very beginning. The Anna I always knew. The Anna I loved more than myself. I looked up to her in so many ways because of her carefree personality and her love for life. I can not think of a dull moment with Anna around. Just laying in bed with her she would crack some wise joke, and we would be laughing too hard to fall asleep. There is no one that didn’t get along with Anna because she knew life was too short to hold grudges. She would call me yelling at me for telling Rachel about the time Anna wet the bed, claim that she was never telling me anything ever again, and three hours later she’s calling me to come make dinner with her because she was bored. I have never met anyone in my life that could love as much as Anna loved, or bring as much happiness to room as Anna did. From fourth grade and for the rest of my life I will always admire Anna’s spunky attitude, and continue to wish I had just a tad bit of Anna in me somewhere.

Also, my Mother says: that she isn’t as mean as I made her sound, and that she grew to love Anna very much. She got over the torn paper, and eventually came to also admire the way Anna could find fun in every situation and every piece of life. -Mom

DONT BE RUDE.

Now, I don’t expect any “sympathy” or want anyone to pity me. That’s not why I did this. However, often times we walk around looking at other people, and in our heads we can play out their entire life story. We see a beautifully tan, thin, attractive girl walking around campus with Michael Korrs shoes, watch, and purse, sun glasses on, and her hair freshly hi-lited– in our heads she has a perfect family in her Chicago suburb home, mommy and daddy are sending her money every week, she doesn’t have to work for anything and she has never been told “no” in her life. Well, I’m telling you no. Would you believe me if I told you her Mom was in jail two weeks ago? That she hardly sees her Dad? She doesn’t have a bedroom at her Mom’s house? Her MOM has stolen over one thousand dollars from HER in the past month? She has dealt with more police showing up at her house than friends? She bought those Michael Korrs luxuries herself. Her job allows her to have free hair services. She works almost 40 hours a week, while earning a degree in biochemistry.

Didn’t see that coming did you?

THAT’S why I wrote this blog. I’m sick of people looking at me like I have a perfect life, and when I am crying, sober, in a bar- they look at me like I should be embarrassed of my horrific behavior. Little do they know, I just found out a friend had drown.

Get your heads out of your @$$es and TALK to people. Ask if they are okay. Hear their stories. You might learn something.