GA Voice


- Katie Burkholder

Only a couple weeks ago, I wrote an editorial about grief — namely, the grief of the Club Q shooting. I called 2022 a year of grief, and it has only become more potent. Recently, one of my very good friends and the first person I ever loved died.

Forgive me as I indulge in taking some time to remember my friend Michael.

We met freshman year of high school and dated for more than two years. He was my first love, and to this day, I know we shared a love that was simple and pure. We remained close friends after our breakup, even as I began dating one of his best friends soon after (I know, not something I’m proud of). Even though he had every right to be, he was never bitter or hateful toward me; on the contrary: he was effortless­ly kind and accepting. He respected me and my autonomy in a way that some adults I interact with still haven’t learned. He was wise beyond his years, so in touch with love that I to this day regard him as a role model — and did so even prior to his death.

We remained friends through high school and into college. I had some of the most fun of my life with him, embarking on adulthood and independen­ce and freedom for the first time.

I saw him for the last time several months ago. He came over to my apartment with our other friend Adalei, and as we reminisced on high school and the people we hated and the ways we’ve changed and stayed the same, I remember thinking about how one thing always remained true between us: we each thought so highly of the other. I take solace in the knowledge that the only thing that ever existed between us was love and adoration.

That night, I hugged him goodbye for the last time.

At the time of writing, the new year is approachin­g. The truth of the new year, of the passage of time in general, is that everything new is as much a death as it is a beginning. 2022 is gone, never to return again. The moment I am here now, writing this editorial, is fleeting. When it is gone, I will never be able to have it back. But that only means the birth of a new moment, a new year. While the life Michael lived on Earth has come to an end, the life he now takes in death has just begun. The love he inspired in my heart and the hearts of so many others will burn on, and I will live a life forever changed by both his life and his death.

While some endings are easy to move on from, even a relief — like that of the absolute monstrosit­y of a year that was 2022 — others aren’t. But there is only one way to move, and that’s forward. Even in death, there is persistenc­e. The moment dies, we die, but the memory lives on. The love doesn’t go anywhere.

I know it’s a cliché, but it really is a blessing to be alive — it’s a blessing to have the opportunit­y not only to continue our own lives, but also to lift up and hold close those who are no longer here. I know the new year is a time of goals and looking toward the future, but I remind you that the only thing you are guaranteed is this moment, right now. Use it to love others well, take care of yourself, and be present in gratitude. When it comes to health and wellness, there is nothing healthier than that.

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