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A Light in The Dark

By Dominique M. Addeo

In high school I was very fortunate to have a large friend group that always stuck together. Even as we grew older, with many attending different universities, we always reunited when we were home. As I matured, I realized that only a few were the same as when I first met them. Some friends I knew I could open up with, but one in particular would always be there. No matter what the circumstance, he was there for anything, no questions asked, without judgment. He was a genuinely good person and an extremely good friend. Those two characteristics are hard to come by in this life and can be easily taken for granted.

Billy Joel's famous hit song, "Only The Good Die Young," became vivid after I received tragic news that brisk spring morning in April. Death is inevitable and we hear that all the time. Unfortunately though, when it hits close to home, it showers us with a range of emotion that even the strongest person can't ignore.

Today marks exactly a year and a half since my friend passed away from an overdose. Here is what I've learned thus far...

In these passing months, I am proud to say that I am not in that dark place anymore. Does it mean that I still don't miss my friend? Of course not! There will always be a crater where he once stood for the love of my friends. Experiencing a death of a beloved friend or a loved one is one of the most painful tragedies in this human experience. The positive memories will stay close to your heart, while the negative memories remain congested in your brain, making the grieving process much more difficult to navigate.

Feeling alone with no direction can really spiral a person into feelings that aren't wanted and sometimes uncontrollable. I felt that I was responsible for all that had happened and it haunted me for many nights. I realized then that I could not let my fears take control and it was time to accept what had happened and to stop fighting.

Every night I would pray that I would find a positive reason to wake up each morning, hoping for a light on this dark road. After understanding and accepting that my friend had lost hope in his self, only then I realized he would not want me to mourn his passing. Life is too sacred and only you have the power to move forward, even when the hardest obstacles come your way.

Learning to understand that only I have the power to turn my sadness into gratification was a large lesson for the future and should be shared to others. You should never feel ashamed of your story, for that it will inspire others. There is a light somewhere in your dark tunnel, I promise. I hope reading this makes you determined to find it.

About Dominique: "I am a recent college graduate who moved from NY to CA determined to find who I truly am. After facing various of struggles throughout my 22 years of life, I want to be able to share my story with those who have experienced similar situations. I was in a very dark place a year ago, and fought very hard to get where I am today."
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