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365 Questions: What life lesson did you learn the hard way?

That some things are not best left unsaid. I’m sorry to say, this will be another depressing post.

When I was in my second year of university, a childhood friend died. He was a year older than me, and in the past few years had been frequently ill (often becoming hospitalised as a result). I suppose that when you’re young, you don’t think about people your age dying. It’s an abstract idea; you may well have experienced more elderly relatives dying, but that seems so far away. Despite his repeated hospitalisations, it had never even crossed my mind that he might die.

We hadn’t really spoken much since I’d gone to University. I suppose we’d drifted apart a bit, but not necessarily parting ways on the best of terms. I’d heard that he was in hospital again, and decided that I would make the effort to catch up with him when I next had a break from university. I’d previously visited him in the hospital, and so assumed it would be more of the same.

We were not friends on social media, and I looked him up on Facebook to try and see how he was doing. I stared at his profile for what felt like way too long. I considered adding him as a friend, dropping him a message, but I didn’t know what to say. I had so much to say, and yet so little came to me. I suppose what I should have just said was “hi”. I decided that I would reach out via text when I was local, or go see him at one of his usual haunts. A few days later I received an email informing me that he had passed away.

This would be the first major loss in my life. I had attended funerals before, but they had been for people I was friendly with, but not overly close to. Distant relatives, friends of friends. The finality of the funeral really hit me. This person was gone. Things which had been left unsaid, things which would have been easy to say. Stupid jokes devised between the two of us, meaningless to the surrounding world. All rendered moot. He was gone.

I now try not leave things unsaid. I have the uncomfortable conversations, I have the wonderful conversations. Life is fleeting, you don’t want to spend it regretting your cowardice.

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