On this day a year ago (I’m ignoring time zones) my best friend died in a car accident, so it has been hard to avoid looking back on the last year and thinking about him this week. When you lose someone, people say all kinds of things in an attempt to be helpful. The sentiment is appreciated, but a lot of things people spout are absolute bollocks, especially “It gets easier.” I don’t think there’s ever anything easy about losing your other half, you just go from hyperventilating, to not wanting to leave the house for a week, to feeling guilty when you realise its the first time you haven’t had a cry in three days, to eventually getting back to your normal routine. Or in my case, just completely changing it!
Scotty was quite possibly the most wonderful friend anyone could ever have. From regularly sorting out all the issues in my life, to hilarious adventures around Australia and NZ, to having epic nights out, to being both ridiculously silly and incredibly switched on and mature at (almost) all the right moments. I’m certainly not the only one who feels completely blessed to have known him.
While initially, it was easy to sink in to that whole life-is-unfair mentaility (although to be honest, memories of the few months after he passed away are kind of hazy), I have tried very hard to instead take on his attitude to life. He knew what he wanted out of life, and by gosh did he do whatever it took to get there. At the time, he was working full time in a job that would usually be given to a graduate, whilst commuting an hour and a half to University to finish his degree, volunteering on student radio and a bunch of other extra projects including the Christchurch Earthquake and Oamaru Flood emergency responses, travelling, and yet he still always seemed to have all the time in the world to help out his family and friends. He wanted to be the next Anderson Cooper, and we all know he would have. Everyone that worked with him knew he was going places.
He’d put in a tonne of hours volunteering for University, and his efforts had been recognised by many. Because of that, we managed to get a tree in the commerce building dedicated to him. His mother and I spent god knows how many hours trying to come up with something great to go on his plaque and we knew it had to be something that summed up his attitude, and the kinds of things he always said to us. Being the communications whiz he was, it was always him helping us with this sort of thing, so it was a bit of test when we had to do it on our own! In the end we came up with “Be the best you can be. No excuses!” – We could imagine exactly the scenario he would have whipped a comment like that out in – all the times he made us stop procrastinating, worrying, being nervous or slack and just grow a pair and get the job done.
While it continues to be a challenge without him (especially every time I have a difficult decision to make), in the past year I have tried really hard to do as he would want, to find what motivates me and go for it. Initially, I enjoyed travelling around Australia as it felt like I was the one who had gone away and everything was normal back home, but I quickly turned it in to an opprtunity to work hard (four jobs hard) to save money so I could travel Europe, see all the places I dreamed of and finish my degree.
Sometimes I feel really awful for having a great time without him, though. Last weekend on my flight back from Tromso, Norway, where I had gone to see the Northern Lights, I thought about how much fun I had had running around in the snow, climbing trees, collecting photos of places that looked like Santa’s house, seeing the magical lights sparkling across the sky, and general shenanigans and silliness. That kind of hilarity and adventure was right up his alley, and absheolutely would have been right there with me trying to swim in the Arctic Ocean had he had the opportunity. All of a sudden I just about had a cry on the plane, but luckily I had plenty of eye makeup on to prevent that from happening! It is no good thinking things like “I wish I’d just made him stay over instead of driving home that night” or feeling guilty for having a good time without him, I know that’s the last thing he would want. So instead I try my hardest to think back to the last time I saw him. I told him I was planning on going on exchange and he said I wasn’t allowed to go anywhere that didn’t have space for him to come stay, and we talked about all the fun places we were going to go.
At this point I could say something sappy about it is like he is travelling with me and memories living on and other such cliched crap. Instead, I’ll end with a quote from another good friend of ours, posted on his facebook wall today that quite nicely sums up how he continues to motivate us all and touch our lives:
“You were one of a kind, we will never be able to replace you, the most we can hope for is to emulate you.”