When Someone Dies Before They Get The Chance To Apologize (And It Still Hurts)


Here we are again. We all know the drill. You have a big blow up with your best friend, someone whom you never thought had the capability of betraying you and your friendship but shit happens, so what are you going to do, right? You spend a lot of time to yourself. It’s like “Netflix and chill-by-yourself-rethinking-all-your-previous-life-choices-and-how-the-hell-did-you-end-up-here.” The junk food wrappers are scattered all over the floor, and you have one too many empty wine bottles beside your bed. You step on a cork or two as you stumble to the bathroom between Grey’s Anatomy episodes. (Dear Netflix, fifteen seconds is really not long enough for a bathroom break. Sincerely, binge-watchers everywhere) You stare at your phone anxiously awaiting the *ding* and to see the words pop up on your lock screen, “We need to talk about this.” I really need to talk about this.

When someone hurts you, you deserve the recognition of how they affected you. It’s like once your feelings are validated with a response to how they made you feel, then that’s one step closer to ending this chapter and moving on. Maybe if they feel a slight bit of remorse, then maybe you’re not so naïve for believing them in the first place. Maybe if someone acknowledges your pain, then you won’t have to suffer through this healing process in silence. Until someone sees you, then it’s like you’re standing in the middle of a crowd with a plastic bag wrapped tightly around your face. Everyone around you is going about their day, and you’re struggling to breathe. No one can hear you. The bag never loosens.

The days turn into weeks, and you’re still stuck in this rut awaiting an acknowledgment but it’s far less apparent to those closest to you. We’re adults here so you’ve advanced from the binge-watching and smothering yourself with sugar, alcohol and calories. You’re trying to get back to your norm and be as social as you could possibly be with this unseen plastic bag restricting your oxygen intake, a constant internal reminder of the shame and regret that you now carry. You still feel the deep cuts inside your soul, still longing for that message, desperately needing to get this burden off your chest so your lungs can fully expand again. Then, when you least expect it, your phone dings. On your lock screen, you see the words, “Marshall was in an accident.”

He was well-loved, and you shared all the same mutual friends. You never tried to make a big deal about things because it was only you that was betrayed. You carry this weight all on your own. He was your best friend, confidant, and more times than not, your strength. The life of the party, he was the center of your friends’ circle. How can you continue to be bitter towards someone that is no longer living? How can you properly mourn the death of your best friend when you were infuriated by his silence and lack of remorse just yesterday? What am I supposed to feel? No one ever tells you the proper etiquette for making amends with someone that has suddenly perished.

You go to be by everyone’s side without any doubt or question. You try to be the backbone that holds your friends together as the grieving process begins. You’re all there for each other because everyone is aching, and all you have is each other. You sit around and talk in circles about “the good old days” over some beers and countless packs of cigarettes. You talk about all the memories that you’ve made with Marshall, how he has positively impacted your lives and brought so many friendships together and all the laughs that you’ve had together. These are memories that you have always and will always cherish, the best times of your life are the ones that you’ve shared with him. It is the first time in while that you’ve felt okay thinking about him. It’s a lot easier to remember the good and try to pretend like the bad times never existed. That’s what you’re supposed to do when someone dies, right? You go to the wake and pay your respects to the family- the family that you claim as your own because you practically lived together at one point. You attend the funeral and cry just as much, if not more, than everyone else there. A staple in your life is now ripped from the seams, and you never got to straighten things out with him before he was stolen from this earth by an unlicensed driver driving on the wrong side of a winding backroad. This was a tragedy in every sense of the word.

When the smoke from the initial shock starts to clear, you realize that the words that you were eager to one day receive will never be coming. There is nothing more infuriating than realizing that your pain and suffering was never and will never be acknowledged, and now you must act like you were never affected because who stays mad at a dead person? Well, I’m here to tell you that just because you will never hear the words, “I’m sorry,” does not mean that your pain was invalid. No one is ever allowed to make you believe that your feelings were not true, were exaggerated or didn’t mean anything. No one has the right to determine whether or not you hurt. You are the only true witness to your experiences, and no one can take that away from you. When you can wrap your brain around the fact that only you have the ultimate say-so about what goes on in your heart and in your mind, then you’ve already taken three steps forward.

Sometimes it’s hard to be best friends with someone that you know has a broken soul. Part of what brings you together is their brokenness because you see that they are more than what they appear to be- the guard that they put up, the show they put on for everyone else to see. They are worth more than things that they’ve been through and the things that they continue to put up with. They are lost but you are determined to be there for them in order to help them find their way. You learn to stay by their side through these trials and console one another and rely on each other for strength and acceptance because that’s what friends do. You love them for everything they are and everything they’re not but when someone is incapable of loving themselves, then they are incapable of loving anyone else- whether they’re your best friend or not. They make sporadic, compulsive decisions that will greatly affect those around them but those consequences never cross their minds because they aren’t the ones left in the aftermath forced to deal with them. Their actions have directly impacted you but they’re unapologetic because they got what they needed at the time.

Just because you made the decision to love someone that didn’t love you back in the way that you expected, whether it is in a friendship or relationship alike, that does not mean that you are not worth the apology that you so rightfully deserved. It takes a fiercely strong person to put yourself aside and try to be everything that you feel that someone else needs. You are not wrong for trying to be the best friend that you can be just because that friend didn’t have the same respect for you back. You’ve heard them say it: “Not everyone has the same heart as you do.” Do not let one bad experience with someone hinder you from putting yourself out there again. Never stop being a good friend because one person took your friendship for granted.

Whether the apology you’re waiting for is from someone that has passed away or someone that you pass on the street every now and then, always lay your head down onto your pillow at night knowing that you did everything that you were supposed to do. You loved with all of your heart. You stood beside someone that you believed in. You fought for someone that you felt was worth fighting for. You did the right thing by continuously trying to bring joy into someone else’s life. Their hurtful behaviors, dishonor and lack of respect are not a reflection of your character, what kind of friend you are/were to them or have any bearing on your self-worth. Keep that head held high, brother or sister. Own your pain. Feel it as long as you need to. Just know without a doubt that when you do, it is true.