What I Wish I Would Have Done

Filed under Catherine's Thoughts on Aug 07 12 by

A year ago, one of my best friends died of an accidental drug overdose. I’ve wanted to share her story many times over the last year, but I’ve been afraid. I’ve been afraid because I know that nothing I say can do her any justice. I’m afraid because I know there are people who will dismiss her story simply because they read the phrase “drug overdose” or because they think they knew Brandi. I’m afraid to write this, because I am afraid of people shrugging this off as just another story on the internet. I’m terrified that my attempt to honor the life of my friend could give someone the opportunity to devalue her life.

Brandi lived through more heartache than I could imagine. She experienced some of life’s worst offerings, the kind that make you want to denounce the existence of a just and loving God—experiences that make your heart break over the sin-filled broken world we call home. And the majority of those times, I would discover her marching forward with a joyful smile on her face, filled with hope as she set off in pursuit of the better things tomorrow had to offer.

But like each of us, Brandi had her own demons that haunted her—memories from past abuse, lies and manipulation that she’d been fed until she believed them, fear of being alone, and the responsibility of having to act as the grown up way before her time. These topics were most often kept under lock and key until late at night, when the pain of holding it together would occasionally allow her to open up.

I’m afraid because I want to be careful that no one misses my point. We all have skeletons in our closets. We’ve all been hurt, let down and disappointed. Some of us have been physically, emotionally and sexually abused. Some of us have struggled with abandonment. Some of us were raised in homes where our parents abused drugs and alcohol. Some of us weren’t so much raised as left to fend for ourselves. We all have a story that has brought us to our current page. We cannot judge each other’s stories, especially when they include situations we are unfamiliar with. We also cannot keep our stories to ourselves. Not only do people need to hear our story in order to truly know us better, but they also need to hear it because it may be similar to theirs. Our story may offer hope to those around us. We also cannot keep these stories to ourselves—hiding them gives them the ability to grow a voice of their own that breeds judgment and condemnation.

Brandi tried so hard for years to be strong, to be happy, and to just keep going. But what she needed was to feel safe and be told that it’s ok to feel let down and disappointed. She needed to know that it was ok to be scared and hurt. That it was ok to say, “I made a mistake”. She needed someone to show her that it’s ok to be vulnerable, it’s ok to ask for help, and it’s ok to seek out a fresh start.

We have to learn to genuinely love without judgment. We have to realize that we can’t do life alone, we can’t succeed without help, and we need others.

I’m not sure what I could have done differently, but I wish I had spent more time just talking to my friend. I wish I had called her every week instead of every couple months. I wish I had spoken up more and made sure that she knew how valued she was. I should have spent more time telling her what I saw in her, who she was, and that she was loved. I really just wish I had made it a priority to show her how much I loved her instead of hoping that she already knew. In the end, loving people is the most important thing we can do, because it is what helps them to recognize the greatness that lies within them.

What I Wish I Would Have Done

Photo by Monica Manklang

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Catherine Smith
Catherine graduated from Western Carolina University with a degree in Education and has experiencing teaching both elementary and high school students. Catherine is passionate about helping women connect with their true purpose and discover their value. As the Community Relations Director, Catherine manages our outreach projects, events, and relationships with other organizations that support women.