It's been a long time hasn't it?
I'm a person who's consistently had a different best friend every year and half up until college. I probably had 7 best friends during middle school through high school but you're still the one that I have the most memories from.
We hated Justin Bieber and frequently made home videos on Photo Booth- most of the time wearing mustaches we drew on each other's faces with marker. We were both literal sticks. No curves- just bones. In middle school, we started writing a "play." We called it Friends and the episodes were a front and back page. It had all of the people in our group and whenever we decided we didn't like someone anymore- we'd send a giant claw into the episode to come and pluck them out. There are over 500 episodes between 15 notebooks and I've had them all for years now. I brought them to my freshman year at college- all organized and I'd read through them from time to time, laughing about how we used to talk: "rawr" "xD" "LULZ" I have absolutely no shame in that.
We went through Orchestra together in middle school with the teacher we both thought was SO creepy- and locked us in the Home Ec closet to practice with those very realistic fake babies. (No seriously, that happened) We were extremely hyperactive and closer than ever. From 8th grade going into freshman year of high school- our friend group got larger but we were still the stereotypical outcasts. We thought we were so edgy wearing bottom liner and skinny jeans that fell right off of our nonexistent butts. I went to some of your church meetings with you- as they could make you uneasy some times. You were there when I cried and I was there when you cried. I remember when you ran away from home and I sobbed, begging my mom to help drive around our town looking for you- picking out places where I thought you would go. I was mad when we figured out you were hiding out behind your house but I know you were scared and frustrated and angry and you just needed to leave- no matter where you went.
We fought, we hugged, we were the hyperactive ones in our friend group and involved in so much drama (you know the kind you got in at 14 years old) but we stuck to each other like glue. So that's why it didn't surprise me when we ended up picking up the same habits from our other friends who were in worse situations than us. We were all young, with no knowledge of how to cope with difficult emotions. We happened to be friends with a few people who handled those... not so well. We picked up awful coping methods, the most detrimental being self harm. It's no one's fault, not ours, not who we were friends with. Our outcomes were based on circumstance. We went through being introduced and dealing with self harm together. Until your family moved to Utah.
We lost contact. Your mother died due to a medical condition she never should have gotten. Your oldest brother deferred from your church. We talked every now and then, I remember a call close to when your mother had died- I was sitting on my front doorsteps and we were talking about you coming back to Culpeper for a bit and staying with my family. My mom was 100% for that and I missed you. You were having a hard time and who wouldn't have? Knowing where your sadness came from and all the unfair things that had been happening in your life made me want you to be here.
I've thought about what happened next. It's all due to circumstance. We were in relatively the same emotional states. We both continued with self harm. But I got help. I was able to get help because I was able to talk about my issues with my family and I was not bound to a religion that often, without trying to, hushed issues regarding mental health. You couldn't talk as easily. You could not get the amount of help you needed in the least bit.
Around a month ago, I received a text from sister asking about a post that had been on your Facebook wall. "RIP" had been the ending word. As more posts starting popping up, most from members of your church back in Virginia, I started messaging people. People I didn't know, people I had lost contact with from high school. Some said they didn't know, only that they had posted because of seeing the other posts. Then someone from your church responded. You killed yourself.
I went through every single emotion possible. I was never angry at you. I was angry at everyone but you. I was angry at life for making it almost impossible for you to get better. I tore through all of my diaries and notebooks I had brought from the dorms to my sophomore year house with me. I found your handwriting. I was furious that I hadn't kept contact but there was nothing to be changed. There was nothing anyone could do. I still think that it's a joke. There's no way someone who my TimeHop app keeps mentioning isn't here anymore. There is no way someone who half of my diaries talk about isn't somewhere on this earth anymore. I keep thinking about "what ifs" and if I'm allowed to be upset because we haven't been best friends for a few year now. Of course I'm allowed- we were each other's at one point in time.
I love that for a few years of your life, you were my best friend. I am so happy I get to say that. I love you because you made it okay for me to be as crazy as I wanted to be. You give me the funniest memories to look back on. Including a book filled with AWFUL fashion designs we both attempted to draw. One day, I'll road trip up to Utah to visit you. I'll bring you sugar since we were both so obsessed and maybe a picture of JBiebs with his boy band haircut just because. I love you Tori. Thanks for choosing to spend part of your life by my side.
(attached is a riveting note that I found in a 7th grade journal and a beautiful dress design by you, and a classic cropped out picture of us)