When I was making my plan for the blog in 2011 and started making notes for my Friend Friday feature, I immediately knew one of my best friends Jae would be on that list.
What I didn’t know was how different writing about him today would be in comparison to what I would have written the day I made that list.
I met Jae two years ago at a photography meetup in San Antonio. He wasn’t a photographer, he was a Med student who was tagging along with a friend. We immediately formed a connection and stayed friends after that night.
Jae soon left to do charity work in Haiti and much of our initial interaction was via the internet. We spent hours debating politics, discussing religion and dreams and never argued over who was right. He was the single most noncombative person I’ve ever met.
He knew my favorite candy, knew the perfect thing to say when I needed advice or support or a slap in the face.
Jae was that friend who was easy to like and love and respect. He had that smile that made you smile upon seeing it. He gave his life to charity. He always believed his life was so blessed that he should return the blessings to others.
He was smart and intuitive. He made sure I believed in myself when it seemed no one else did. He loved his friends so deeply and we all loved him like a brother.
He offered me a hand, a shoulder, an ear and his heart and to that I will love him forever.
We shared everything about our lives and I held no secrets from him. Jae, however, held one important secret from me…
He did and for many years suffer from severe depression. I knew him from two years and was completely shocked that I could miss something so important in such an important friends life. I could not understand how I missed it.
But Jae was amazing in that he only thought of others. He never complained about having to sit through my rants and tear filled stories at 2 am. He was the only person who was as nocturnal as I.
If you can have friend soul mates… he is mine.
Three months ago, Jae took his own life. The struggles he dealt with alone got to be too much.
I can’t explain the pain, anger and guilt that comes with this type of experience. I have gone back and forth many times trying to decide if I would share his passing.
After talks with his sister and from my own conviction, I felt it important that I be honest and share my thoughts on everything I have felt.
I have struggled with his passing for months and tried so hard to find a reason for it all. I haven’t found it. But I’ve resolved, I’m not supposed to. I have to focus on the amazing friendship I had with one of the most inspiring people to enter my life.
I have to remember:
His ability to teach not criticize
long talks about our families
Star wars marathons
reading books at the park
Driving to the coast
him trying with no success to get me to LOVE hot dogs (with relish)
his intense work ethic
His ability to meet strangers and make them his friend
me trying to get him to get a Facebook page
And never forget that he taught me:
How important is can be for someone to accept you just as you are.
How important those little moments can be when they are the last.
Life is much more fulfilling when you are helping others.
Friends can save your life.
We are all the same.
I miss him dearly but I will thank God that I had a special time with him.
Although he is no longer a part of my world, he will never leave my heart.