1. Denial

I reread the message from Zoey’s* sister every day, trying to unscramble the words. I feel as if some sick joke has been played on me. In fact, every day since it happened, I wake up and hope that I’ll get a message saying that none of this was real, and that all of my tears were for nothing. I have never wished for something to be so untrue before. I still can’t think the words she’s dead and actually believe them. I won’t let myself, because I might really lose it if I do. I just want to cling to the thought that this will all sort itself out and we will be back talking to each other in French next week and laughing about life.

2. Anger

Why is she dead? Almost everyone that I’ve formed a close connection with—even if I don’t know them personally—is gone. People keep telling me that I couldn’t have done anything, and I know that they’re right, but a part of me refuses to believe it. Talking doesn’t help much either. One friend of mine noticed that I wasn’t myself today and asked about it, and I spilled everything as we walked from math class to homeroom, but that was the only truly natural conversation that I have had so far that didn’t make me either (a) tear up or (b) hate myself even more. The two most infuriating things that people have told me are “she’s in a better place now” and “she was so young.”

3. Bargaining

What if I had talked to her more in these past couple of weeks? What if I’d elaborated on the fact that I thought—and continue to think—that she was an amazing friend and person, and that she helped me through so much? WHAT IF?

4. Depression

I wake up thinking about it and go to sleep thinking about it. There is no escape. Any happiness that I feel is temporary. I feel lost all the time. I want to talk to people, but if I do, I feel sick—physically. At least when I’m alone I can cry freely or do whatever I feel like doing (which is usually more crying). The only person I would be completely content talking to right now is Zoey.

Everything that I usually love feels stale: every song lyric that I hear, every sentence of a book that I read. In fact, I stopped reading a book halfway through because one of the characters fenced, which was Zoey’s sport.

5. Acceptance


I wish.

What do I wish? I feel like it’s time to move on, even though a small part of me wants to remain in the past. I want—no, need—to realize, for the sake of my own health, that there is no way that I could have stopped her. I can’t hold on to this for the rest of my life. I’ve been wearing my grief like a coat, too weighed down to go back to just being me, the person who likes to write and read and say stupid things to my friends.

I fear that “moving on” means forgetting Zoey. I fear that not moving on means forgetting everything else, especially myself. ♦

* This name has been changed.