Today I have words.
First, you will not always hurt as painfully as you do today. Eventually your stomach will unclench and your chest will expand fully and your head will stop pounding. Eventually you will think of Alex and Calvin and you will feel sunny inside. Be patient with yourself in the meantime. Do what people tell you – eat, drink water, exercise, sleep, be with the people you love.
Feeling less physical pain doesn’t mean you will ever miss them less. You will never stop missing them. You will see their shadows at every place you used to go together, at every gathering of friends, at your reunions and weddings. It will seem impossible that they aren’t there, because it is. Don’t be afraid of those shadows: welcome them. Say out loud that you miss them, five, 10, 20 years from now. Others will be grateful you have voiced what they are all thinking.
Second, do not turn blame inward or outward. You think you know many of the factors that went into the accident. Some you might know, others you will never know. Spending any amount of time trying to go back and find the moment you could have changed things is worthless. Not one thing you did or could have done would have altered the events of that night. It happened, it’s over. If you blame yourselves or each other, you will fall apart. You need each other. Fall together.
Third, Alex and Calvin are not a lesson or a warning. Their lives were about so much more than that. Their deaths do not define them. The 18 plus years they lived define them. The families who loved them, their friends, the things they said and did, the futures they lost – all of that makes up the young men they were. Do not reduce them to a cautionary tale or a statistic, the way the media has. Don’t diminish the brilliant sparks of light Alex and Calvin were by simplifying them. They were complex human beings; keep them that way.
Try not to be frustrated or maybe even enraged when you see others professing grief you feel is less justified than your own. People are shown on the news crying or quoted in the media or show up sobbing at a vigil or funeral and you see them and think, “They didn’t know him like I did. She should just stop.” Alex and Calvin touched hundreds of people’s lives. It is a testament to them that so many people mourn them so much. Grief sets off older losses as well. Someone might be remembering a brother who died in similar circumstances 20 years ago. Or a grandfather who died last month. Or maybe they are empathetically suffering the pain of others. If it really upsets you, just look away, but try as hard as you can not to judge.
Finally, know that those two beautiful young men were made of stardust, held together by electricity and gravity, just as each of us are. Stardust, like all matter, can never be destroyed. They will be with you, for the rest of your lives. All you must do to summon them is to think of them.