Monday, January 31, 2011
Mike was my good friend and Michelle (Mike's sister) was good friends with Lilly, so it was inevitable that our paths would cross. Although I can't remember the exact time we first met each other, I just remember us being very young, like maybe 10 or so. We were both the quiet type, but somehow we became close friends and hung out pretty often on the weekends. Eventually, she became the kind of childhood friend that you'd sit on the sofa with for hours, not really doing anything other than watching cartoons, eating those strawberry wrapped candies, and unconsciously enjoying the innocence of youth. I was put in the friend-zone quite early, but honestly I didn't mind (and only realized it later). The emotional connection that we shared was something different than anything I had ever experienced before.
Fast forward a few years to a rainy day in February when she called me to tell me that she was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis. I had no idea what CF was, but she told me all about it and all I could remember was zoning out after I heard the words "possibly fatal". Her voice was so relaxed about it, no tears, no anxiety, no anything. Part of me thought that she had no idea what was going on or that she couldn't understand the gravity of the situation. I attempted to comfort her, but she insisted that we didn't focus on that when we spent time together. Months passed and she underwent various treatments. The thought of being there for her and supporting her made me feel like I had a purpose. My purpose in life was to help her get over her disease.
In my junior year I started to skip classes to go to her school and see her. I would bring her boba from Tapioca Express and pretended to be her older brother. I would be lying if I said I didn't grow to love her. As she got worse, my trips were no longer to Tapioca Express, they were to the hospital. All of her other "friends" and our mutual friends mysteriously disappeared. I guess teens would rather think about homecoming dances as opposed to death and I can't really blame them. They weren't as invested as I was, she gave me purpose and it was too late for me because I had already fallen for her. One day I caught myself thinking, "Maybe if she gets over this we can go to college together. Then, maybe we can even get married and have a real life together." Lilly, simply put, held everything for me at the time. Pinned on her was my future, my desires, and my first sense of deep love for someone else.
On Monday, September 15th at 5:50 AM (my birthday), Lilly passed away. The whole day I sat quietly in all of my classes realizing that she was the only person I had ever truly loved (as much as a naive 17 year old can love something anyways). Sure, I had a "crush" on my friend Tam before, but this? This was love. Yet it was the one thing I had never told her. I proudly tell people that "I have no regrets" about the things in my life, but deep down I know that if I could change this one thing, I would. I try not to blame myself for not saying those words that every movie tells me a young girl would have wanted to hear, because at 17, love is such unknown idea. But I knew that I did. I should have said it. I knew it back then as much as I know it now: I loved her with all my heart.
I am 24 now and consider myself pretty well established. I have done all of the things that I promised to her when she was on her death bed. It's strange to think about her sometimes, because in my mind she is still just a girl. When I look back and see her picture in my mind, she isn't even a woman yet, so I find it hard for me to envision loving her as such a physical thing, but I suppose it is our memories together that I will always keep. I'll always treasure the time we spent together. Rest in peace Lilly, I love you.