The Boy I Never Knew

I’ve been in a thoughtful mood lately about a lot of things.

As I start my Master’s Degree (finally!), I worry that since it’s Distance Learning, I may not do as well.

I now have one less year of my twenties to go, what have I achieved? How do I feel about it?

Is my current career doing it for me or is it time for a switch? What really is making me so restless about life in general?

What even is life?

This pensive mode began on my birthday two weeks ago. I turned 27 this year and that leaves me with only two more years of being a twenty-something. I feel that big 3-0 looming ever closer and as I look around at my life, I wonder what I’ve done with it.

In an ideal world, I would have finished my Doctorate Degree at 24, married at 25 and at 26, be having my first child and a successful therapy career.

Instead, I finished my Bachelor’s Degree shortly before 23, bumbled around in a couple of internships for a couple of years, finally began dating (for the first time ever) at 24 (and broke up in the same year – not that we’re bitter), and now at 27, I’m starting my Master’s Degree and I’m still fabulously single.

Life has a way of beating back foolish, childish dreams and only those who discover the secret can really beat back at life. Honestly, all you need is hard work and a little bit of luck and there you go.

So when I began my new year of life, I found myself, not upset that I was older or worried particularly about things. Instead, I was grateful. Some people never made it to 27. Some people wanted to see that day and never would. I was (and am) one of the lucky ones.

The thought process only magnified last Saturday when my sister told me some sad news; one of her friends, a boy I never knew, had passed away.

Over the last few days since, I have seen pictures of the same guy from two other social media feeds of friends of mine. It would seem that he made quite an impact on a number of people.

My sister can’t express enough about what a great guy he was and how much he helped her. He was, she says, a genuinely good person, one who would go far out of his way to help others out.

I myself lost a friend a few months ago and very suddenly so I can relate although this particular passing was a little more devastating. I will spare you the details, but will say that I found myself on Sunday morning, sitting in the car in the church parking lot crying my eyes out over this guy who I had only just learned existed a few hours prior.

I am still dissecting this one and I’m putting it down to my being a proper watering pot, but it also got me to thinking.

This boy I never knew had friends, a job, hopes and dreams, wishes, a family, plans for the next day, goals, maybe a routine, something he’d been meaning to try out, some series he might be partway through watching, a movie he was waiting to see, something he wanted to tell a friend… Just like my friend did, and now never will.

Somehow it’s the mundane things that ultimately end up breaking my heart. I didn’t know him and I only learned his name yesterday and yet, I mourned him as I would a close friend. This is a weird place for me since I feel like grief is misplaced and although very genuine, feel as though it may be seen as fake because it is so inexplicable.

But here we are, and here I am, saddened about a boy I never knew.

When I go, as I eventually will, what will I have left unfinished, undone, unsaid? How important will that unspoken “I love you”, that project I keep putting off, that thing I want to do but never got round to be in the end? Why would I wait for these un- things to be important in the end and not now when I am alive and can bring them to life?

The desiderata says to enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. I find some small comfort in this.

In making plans, we bring ourselves to new destinations, reach new heights, discover new paths and lessons… We look forward instead of back even as we take steps now. And when achievements come, we celebrate them and make new plans and targets.

That’s how we get through. And when it’s time to go, it isn’t particularly sad to leave things pending – we were only passing through anyway. Life isn’t permanent and those little things, my single status, my school level, my unfinished book, those things I look forward to that I won’t get to do or see or feel or hear just won’t matter any more.

And after all is said and done, we all go that way. So death is not to be feared. It is inevitable. And we, the living, need to make the most of it while we are here.

So here I am, doing what I feel I need to and spreading love and encouragement, one post at a time.

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