The Tale of My Dear Friend

Once there was a girl. She lived in the middle of the desert and while she was shy and a tad odd she still managed to make a friend or two. She lived on a street that was under developed. There were large desert lots open for her to explore, collect bugs and stalk lizards.

Then one day, her favorite empty lot was sold and construction on a house began. She felt bitterness deep in her heart as she watched that house go up. It was taking the biggest lot, that had the best trees for hiding. It was also the lot where her and her best friend, who had recently moved away, had spent many hours exploring and recreating scenes from Are You Afraid of the Dark?  When the house was finished it sat empty for some time. The girl began to hope that a family with a gaggle of cute sons might move in so she could ogle them from afar.

Finally, when the girl was in eighth grade, a moving van pulled into the driveway and a family moved in. As mentioned before the girl was shy, however, she managed to convince one of her equally shy friends that if they went to the house together to greet the new neighbors it wouldn’t be so intimidating. And so the girl and her friend went to the new neighbors house and rang the doorbell.

It seemed the girl’s prayers were answered for an adorable seventh grade boy answered and smiled awkwardly.

That’s how I met one of my closest friends Joshua Tennis. Josh immediately invited us into his house, got us drinks and made us feel at home. When the time came to go home it felt like leaving a friends house, not someone who was essentially a perfect stranger. In fact I’m pretty sure that within an hour he had both of us sitting comfortably on his bed regaling us with stories from his previous schools, his family, basically anything we wanted to know about him.

Josh moved often and sometimes would disappear off my radar for months at a time, but he always reappeared, apologetic and eager to catch up. And even though I wouldn’t see him for months it felt like I was with my friend. He had a way of making one feel important, not just to him, but to others as well. He always managed to fill me with optimism, which was definitely a challenge most times.

Through the miracle of Facebook we had recently reconnected in a very real way. That may sound weird. There are some people on Facebook that I reconnect with in that we chat a bit, or comment on pictures or “Like” things the other has posted. But we haven’t reconnected in that we’ve started hanging out, talking on the phone and having real conversations. That sounds harsh, but it’s the brutal truth of Facebook.

When I reconnected with Josh he had recently moved back to the desert. So we started hanging out again. When I wasn’t in the desert he would call and we’d talk for hours. He would text me regularly and if for some reason he couldn’t he would find a way to let me know he was alright.

Last week Josh randomly popped into my mind and I realized it had been awhile since I’d heard from him, so I shot him a quick text. I didn’t get a reply, so I went on Facebook to do what any devoted friend would do, stalk him. I noticed before I even got to Josh’s page that lots and lots of pictures of him were popping up. One even had a description that read “RIP my friend.”

I panicked. I went to his page and found that my worst fears were confirmed. Josh had been killed in a car accident.

I miss my friend. I miss my friend a lot. And the very strange and perhaps even most painful thing about it is how far removed from it I am. I’ve dealt with a lot of death in my 31 years and they’ve all been deaths that are close to me. Ones that impact my day to day routines. But this one is tricky. No one here knew Josh, so while the folks here are sympathetic and kind, I feel I can’t do my grieving properly.  I’m sure no one would blame me if I broke down weeping (which I won’t do because crying in public…you’ll never see me do that) but I can’t. I feel weird and I hate it.

It felt different when I went to the desert for the service. As soon as we were in Palm Springs, I felt worse. I hated that I wasn’t going to get to see him, hang out with him, poke fun at his electronic cigarettes. I hated the reason for my visit. I didn’t want to go, but I knew I would regret it forever if I didn’t. I also knew I needed to say goodbye and if I didn’t go to the service, how could I ever let him go?

Leaving was terrible as well. The service didn’t make his absence real for me, what was real was the fact that I had visited the desert and not seen him. We didn’t get together for drinks. I didn’t drag him to a scary movie. He didn’t come pick me up with Teddy squirming in the backseat. We didn’t lay on his bed talking about love, relationships and memories from middle school. I didn’t make him roll his eyes with the orange juice story that never fails to make me laugh til I cry. Leaving made him being gone real for me and instead of feeling better I just felt worse.

I miss my fucking friend. I just wonder how much more of this I can take before I turn to stone.

Oh, Sweet Friend

Oh, Sweet Friend

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20 responses to “The Tale of My Dear Friend

  1. Staci, I’m so sorry to hear about your friend. Love you girl<3

  2. I love the story of your friendship. While most of the deaths I’ve experienced are from family, I know the feeling of visiting a place where that person made it feel more like home, and visiting it after they are gone is so foreign.
    No words can really spread comfort, but please know you are loved!

  3. Oh, Staci … my heart aches as i read this … i’m so, so sorry…

  4. I think it’s too late. I don’t think we can take anymore, not for a long long time…

  5. Gretchen Werner

    ***Sobbing*** you said it perfectly! I feel that is the exact way he touched me and how I feel and I know many many others feel! The fact that he can make that many people feel that way is just amazing! Thank u for being able to put to words so beautifully what is real and heartbreaking…wow…<3

    • Thank you Gretchen. Like I said, it was hard to write, but I just had to. I hope you’re doing alright, maybe sometime we’ll be able to meet under better circumstances.

  6. I could tell that none of us here in Seattle could really do much in helping you grieve, but all the same, I personally want to say sorry for everything and especially sorry for your loss of a such a dear friend. You have endured more than most humans will ever experience in a lifetime in such a short and early amount of time in your life. I know nothing I can say really will help how you’re feeling now, but I just wanted to still say I am sad because you’re sad and my prayers and thoughts are with you and Josh’s family as well.

    Because he was friends with you then I know he was someone special. You both were blessed to have each other as friends and I know that good will and has come out of this situation. Hard to see what that may be, but it is there. As you said, he was an optimist, apparently so am I, and we here in Seattle, with you, can continue to point toward that optimism when warranted at least.

    I sure love you Staci. You are amazing and a dear friend to me, and many others, and as cliche as it is, it is true that only time will heal, and a heart of stone may threaten you for a time, but it will soften and you will see the legacy Josh left and the good he brought to your life and I think in the end, reflecting on that will beat out the stone.

    Love ya, your Megs

  7. Very well written. Your first paragraph, well I thought you wrote it about me. From the heart is always best. I too lost a dear friend recently. The post about him helped but I will always wonder what could have been and the world is certainly NOT a better place without them.

  8. He was a sweet and gentle soul that brought a lot of love and happiness to his friends and family. He was my sunshine, the light of my life is gone.
    He will live forever in our memories. Remember all the happy times you had together and live your life to the fullest while helping others. And remember to tell those you care for, how much they mean to you every day, because you might not get that chance later on. Love you. – Talia (Josh’s mom)

    • Talia,

      Thanks for reading and for the comment. Your son was truly an amazing person. I wish there was something I could say to make it better, but there’s just not. I guess the only thing we can do is focus on how wonderful he was. I’ll never forget him, he was too fantastic. So much love to you and your family.

  9. Hi Staci, thank you for sharing your feelings and the story of your friendship with Josh. It eased my pain to know that he was so loved by you. I truly wish I had connected with him before he left us – I hadn’t seen him in at least a year. I never thought that our crazy dance night at Toucans followed by 4am breakfast at Denny’s would be the last time I would ever see him. At least it was a memory that brings a smile to my face. The world has lost a kind, loving, intelligent, clever, funny, handsome person, and we have lost a beautiful friend. I’m thinking of you, Josh, if you can read this from Heaven. I hope you are having the time of your life up there!

    • It’s very true that many of my memories of Josh only bring smiles to my face. I think that is an amazing legacy to leave behind. Thanks for reading and for the comment.

  10. ❤ ❤ ❤

  11. Everyone try to remember that the legacy he was sent here to complete, he did and that’s why it was time for him to move on…

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