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I remember them very clearly, their sound as they flew out of my mouth, and the shape of my tongue that uttered them. “You should have killed yourself when you had the chance.” I remember his expression, as he comprehended the simple, yet brutal, words I spit in his face. He stood there for a moment, and I could see a shadow of hurt pass over his face, before turning expressionless again. ‘Oh really?” he replied. “Is that how you really feel?” I had tears in my eyes as I stood across from him; I had never wished death upon someone before and it scared me to think that I was capable of being so cruel to another person, let alone one of my best friends. I couldn’t reply to him for a moment; I tried to conjure an apology that would have any sort of meaning to him, or any reply at all. He stood looking at me, his face like marble, cold and hard, with no clues as to what he was really feeling in his thoughts or in his heart. I, on the other hand, wore my emotions clearly on my face, not even trying to hide the pain that I felt. My hand shook as I stood, and when I couldn’t think of a reply, I turned away from him, tears falling down my face.

I couldn’t understand how we had gotten to this point. Sure, I had known him for a couple years through church, but I didn’t know him deep down. I had only really gotten to know him over the summer, when we went to camp down in North Carolina together. He was one of the most complex people I have ever gotten the chance to know. His many secrets and lies swirled around in my head like smoke, mixing and confusing me with their meanings. He revealed to me, on the way back from summer camp, of his dark and hurtful past.

He used to be a cutter, he said.

As his past was revealed to me, I had more and more respect for him. He had picked himself up from all the pain and depression and had persevered to get to the point we were at then. He had come all the way from having a knife to his throat, suicidal, to coming to youth group at church. He had stopped cutting and had found another outlet for his anger and sadness: guitar. But also, as more and more of his past was put out in the open, the more I realized that his perspective on life was a critical one. Each conversation we had somehow ended up at the same point: how he could not let go of his painful past. I tried to help him, understanding that one doesn’t quite get over two years of cutting in one night. But I tried to be there as a friend, offering what I had to help him.

Even though I didn’t want to admit it, each conversation made me just a little more mad at him. I couldn’t understand how a person could hold onto their darkest memories, when they had so much ahead of them. He showed an interest in moving on, but repeatedly he fell back to what was comfortable to him: the past.

One day I just couldn’t take it. I got tired of repeating my weak ‘I’m sorrys’ after every complaint he had about his life. I turned to him and exploded. “Why can’t you just let it go?! I’m tired of being weighed down by your problems. You come to me complaining about your life to me. You think I don’t have problems of my own? You have no idea what my life is like because you’ve just been talking about yourself. I don’t even think you know me.” He stared at me blinking slowly. “Well that’s a nice selfless thing to say,” he replied in a sarcastic tone. I was furious. He dared to call me selfless when I had been listening to his problems and helping him for the past three months? I could feel my cheeks getting red and my face getting hot. “You should’ve killed yourself when you had the chance.”

I didn’t talk to him for a couple weeks. I was scared of the confrontation that I knew was inevitable. I saw him at church on Sundays, but when we passed in the hallway, we avoided eye contact and the tension was so thick, it could’ve been cut with a knife. I felt guilty every time his name came up in conversation, or every time something reminded me of him. A tennis ball. A guitar. A certain song on the radio.

Finally, I couldn’t take it anymore. I walked up to him slowly after youth group one Sunday night. I was nervous since I didn’t know how he would react to me apologizing. I opened my mouth to say something, and then closed it again, trying to find the right words. He just looked at me, his face stone cold as usual. I was getting flushed, embarrassed that I had nothing to say to him after all the time that had passed. As I stood there, he just nodded at me. The shield on his face came down for just a moment, so I could see the forgiveness etched across his face. I breathed out a sigh of relief, and smiled at him. He smiled back, a tiny twitch of the side of his mouth, but I knew what it meant. It meant that I was in the clear, that all was forgiven. And that I, and he with a little help, could move on.





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