Losing a Loved One
Haneesha Paruchuri, ’19
College of Arts and Sciences
I woke up early one summer morning with a sense of unrest. Only a few hours previously, we had celebrated my friend’s twentieth birthday; yet, for some inexplicable reason, I felt lonely with a sense of longing for home. Having only been home for three weeks this summer, I dismissed my emotions for homesickness and got ready.
On the walk to Stevenson, I called her, my best friend from Chicago, but I was left with the sound of her voice on the answering machine. It wasn’t until a couple hours later that I would find that that would be the last time I would hear her voice. On the night of June 30th, my best friend had committed suicide. It was the 21st of July, three weeks after the incident.
My entire being went numb while my brain searched for a logical explanation. “I had literally talked to her three weeks ago.” Last phone call: June 29th. “She must have run away from home.” The police had located her body. “There must be a mistake.”
I was stunned – how could this happen? I felt angry – how did they let me live three weeks in oblivion? I felt guilty – how was I unable to prevent this from happening?
I was exhausted – how can I mentally process all this when it just didn’t feel real? But most of all, I felt desperate – how can I turn back the clock?
I spent the last three weeks of summer break with my thoughts. I felt torn between knowing she was gone but feeling like it was all a mistake. In my mind, she is living happily on a farm in Lithuania – her happy place. But maybe I’m just naïve.
My parents were constantly worried about me, giving me passes, every time I did something crazy. My friends always had a sense of pity in their voices, wanting to help, but not knowing how. I was constantly assuring them that I was doing okay. They couldn’t understand that like everything, I wanted to handle this myself.
This is when I admit that I am naïve. I don’t understand how I thought that I could do this without help. Every time I thought I was doing okay, the smallest things would remind me of her, engulfing me back into despair. It became so hard to focus on myself. I slowly became someone I couldn’t recognize.
But finally, time had caught up to me, and I don’t know if it was the stress of the semester or the pressure from holding it in for so long, but I began talking about it with my friends. The more people I told, the easier it got to express myself and my feelings more openly. And yes, the same worry and pity that I tried so hard to avoid were back, but somehow they didn’t bother me as much anymore. I began to embrace these feelings, better understanding the support rather than the judgement behind them.
Being vulnerable is never easy, especially for me, someone who’s always been so independent my entire life. But sometimes it can lead to beautiful things. My vulnerability has helped me understand myself better, build stronger relationships, and overall, experience life from a new, happier perspective.