Being of a younger generation I tend to check Facebook a lot more than I should. I check it the afternoon and once in the evening ( sometimes more than once.) If you’re on Facebook enough you get memories popping up whether you want them to or not. An interesting one popped up on my feed this morning.
It was just a picture, well, two pictures. They were drawn by my friend Avery. It said this post was from four years ago. Damn has it been that long already? It seems like just yesterday I was looking forward to seeing what new hair color/hair style you were wearing at breakfast back in high school.
I should clarify a bit. My friend Avery died. According to Facebook it’s been four years since I went to her wake. Four years since I got that invitation from my other friend Bethany about it. Four years since I saw it and the first thing my mind said was no, I want to be wrong. I don’t want this to be what I think, no I’m pretty sure I know what this is. But I wasn’t wrong, it was exactly what I was afraid of.
You might be wondering why I would think someone I know (especially someone, who was younger than me) would be dead. Avery and I weren’t really that close in high school. Heck I don’t think I ever even gave her my phone number. If anything we were acquaintances at best. I kind of wish I had plucked up the courage and said, “Hey, I think you’re a cool person, let’s hang out together sometime.” Now I’ll never get that chance.
Back then I was wary of getting too close to people. I’ve been burned before and it’s worse when it’s a friendship. Sure I can get over these little rejections but I think my being on the spectrum has complicated these things, (hell when doesn’t it?) That’s not to say you should feel sorry for me. I can deal with rejection just fine (mostly.)
Back to my earlier point. Why did I think she would die? Towards the end of my high school years and probably the middle of hers, she started hanging out with people who used drugs. I still don’t know what kind. All I do know is that she showed up to school one morning and she was showing her track marks to one of our other friends.
Lucky for her she kicked the habit, so I didn’t think oh my god Avery’s dead I bet it was drugs, but the thought crossed my mind. I was in shock of course, but it wasn’t until I went to her wake that I began to wonder what was going on. Wakes, funerals, celebrations of life call them whatever you want they can be depressing. They also be sad but hopeful, a way to reconnect with old friends and make some new ones. Now I’m not one to pry but being curious (and probably morbidly so) I wanted to know what happened. How did she die?
I think that’s part of why I still think about her. I’ll never know how she died, I can speculate that she killed herself. I can pretend I know what the heck I’m talking about and say maybe she didn’t mean to. Maybe it was an accident. Like I said I won’t ever know. Sure I could ask one of our friends but it seems in poor taste. Besides, it’s been four years so I shouldn’t care right?
To be honest I don’t care so much anymore about how she died, just that she did. Another friend for me to say yeah, I’m glad I knew her and look at the pictures she did. Even though we barely knew each other she touched me in some way that I won’t forget. I remember that day, that weekend so clearly, at least the emotions. I was so sad that whole weekend, even a bit depressed. Then again one of my friends had just died so it made sense.
I have depression both genetic and situational so at the time I just figured it’s because I’ve been in a sad situation so of course I’m depressed. Still the lingering feeling nagged at me. We were never that close to begin with so why did her death affect me so much? I think I have an answer now, albeit a subjective one.
Avery was one of those people who knew a lot of other people. She had a way of making you feel wanted/accepted regardless of your background, age, or what school you went to. Even if I hadn’t noticed in high school I noticed it at her wake.
I didn’t know most of the people there but I did spot my friend Bethany’s mom and a few people I hadn’t talked to since we all graduated. It was nice to reconnect even if it was for something so sad. I got to see my friend Emily, and I got to reconnect with my old friend Rachel who I hadn’t seen since high school but we kept in touch through Facebook.
I was surprised to learn Rachel is on the spectrum too, she has Asperger’s too and we bonded over that a bit. We talked about what we had done since high school. Mostly she talked about how different she was now vs. back then. She cusses now, not a lot but she would have never done that back then. She works two jobs just to get by and she dyes her wild colors (including various shades of purple.) The thing I noticed most is that she seems happy now, it’s not that she wasn’t back then but because her parents were so strict she always seemed a bit stifled.
This brings me to my last point. I kind of wish it hadn’t taken the death of someone like Avery to make me see it; but at least I get it now. I wish I could back in time and connect with her through Facebook. I wish I could go back further than that and ask her if we could hang out sometime. Since I can’t do either of those things I’ll just settle for not living with too many regrets. If I want to talk to someone but I’m too scared/shy/worried what they’ll think about me I’ll try my best not to worry about any of that and just say hi.
I’ve gotten better at doing that since then. I’ve even made a new friend by doing just that. His name is Larry, and even though we don’t see each other much we’re always happy to when we do. Hopefully you don’t have to have a friend die on you to figure out what I have. I hope you can do it by reading this or thinking about something similar in your own life. Either way I hope I can help someone who feels like I did.
I hope reading this makes someone else say maybe I’ll finally talk to that boy (or girl) I like (I take no responsibility if it blows up in your face, but at least you tried right?) Or maybe you’ll talk to that new kid in your class that seems pretty cool but seems way too cool for you. They may surprise you, but you’ll never know if you don’t ask. Maybe you’ll finally chase down that dream you’ve always had. The internet can be a great place for aspiring artists regardless of what kind of art you create. What I’m trying to say is don’t be afraid to try something, anything (as long as it’s not illegal) if it makes you happy and don’t let any fears, worries or other people stop you.