A Fishbowl Called Franklin

Growing up as a student in the Franklin area was like growing up as a fish in a small bowl. I was never really exposed to too many problems of the world. Nothing beyond some divorcing parents or a seventh grade relationship ending was in my mind. When one of my best friends committed suicide though, my whole perception of the perfect world we lived in was completely altered.

Sixteenth birthdays are one of the most awaited days in a teenager’s life. So when my best friend xxx called me on his birthday that afternoon, I couldn’t wait to wish him a happy birthday. After I had answered the phone and gotten about halfway through the birthday song, I was interrupted by his heavy breathing and muffled words. I couldn’t understand a word that he was saying except that it had to do with one of our friends, yyy. My mind raced as I thought of all the possibilities; I was desperately hoping that my thoughts that xxx and yyy were just having fun would trump the words that I was now hearing from Michael’s mother. After I realized what her words truly meant, I threw my phone across the car and started sobbing. The words, “yyy killed himself” were on repeat in my head for the next few hours.

Although suicide is one of the leading causes of death in teenagers, it had never even crossed my mind before Shep. Dealing with the loss of such a good friend changed me in a way that I never knew was possible. It opened my eyes to seeing the reality of real problems in the world. It challenged my views of the perfect world we lived in and made me realize how much pain someone can be in without anyone ever knowing. One of the most important things that the loss of Shep taught me though was to appreciate my incredible friends and family with every ounce of energy that I have. My friends and I thought that we would never be able to look at pictures of Shep without bursting into tears again. We figured the pain would never subside and the memories, though happy, would be clouded by the sadness that we could never get them back. What I have learned is that you must use the friends and family you have as your stronghold in times of trouble. When I was crying in the bathroom floor at school, my friends were there to literally pick me up off of the ground. We became each other’s rocks. The death of Shep forced me to understand the deeper meaning of friendship taught me how to cope with some of life’s biggest issues.

Saying that the suicide of my best friend bettered my life would be stretching it. It was one of the worst times of my life, and to this day I still struggle with the loss. The lessons that I have learned however will stay with me as I continue to grow as a person. From my perception of reality changing, to my understanding of how helpful strong relationships with close friends can be, my perspective on life will never be the same.

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