My Advice This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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     My advice: always have a good friend next to you. Everybody needs to have fun and to laugh. Those belly laughs with friends are incomparable. Always have a friend whom you love, and trust, and enjoy being with. I am lucky because I had the most amazing friendship.

Freshman year, I met Rachel. We were drawn to each other because we had both moved to Akron from Pittsburgh and both wanted to go home. The first thing I noticed about her was that she was waving a Pittsburgh Steelers towel in the air like a lunatic. When I asked her name, she smiled. I will never forget that huge, radiant, beautiful smile.

Her parents hardly ever let her go out or talk on the phone, but at school we were always together and she constantly made me laugh. When we talked I always felt completely comfortable; no matter what I said, she never judged me.

I knew I could trust Rachel with anything. I cannot think of anyone who was not drawn to her. She had this way about her that made everyone feel like they were special. I called Rachel “Chi Chi” and she called me “Muñeca,” it was our little thing.

Not only was Rachel beautiful on the inside, she was equally beautiful on the outside, although she wouldn’t agree. She never took the time to recognize her own beauty because she was always complimenting everyone else. Rachel was truly an incredible person.

Sophomore year, I was dating a guy named Troy, and she was dating his best friend, Jeff. We were both excited about the winter formal. Her mom bought her a simple black dress, and Rachel was happy. That is what I loved most about her - she never needed extravagance. Rachel made that dress extravagant. The night before the dance we went to school to decorate. I remember everyone was tired and irritated, but then there was Rachel, upbeat and happy with a huge smile as always.

The dance was February 2. My mom and I surprised her by treating to have her hair done and she looked amazing, and happy, as though she were dancing on cloud nine. She took everyone’s breath away. We had so much fun laughing and dancing, and taking pictures. Sadly, those were the last pictures anyone has of Rachel.

February 12 was the worst day of my life. That was the day I lost my Chi Chi. Everyone knew Rachel had been ill, but nobody knew to what extent. We all thought she had a bad case of the flu. The night before she passed away I called to see if she were feeling better and she said she was, and would try to come to school the next day.

The next day I walked into school with a stuffed animal for her, excited because I thought she would be there, but I was wrong. I was really wrong. I was standing at my locker with Troy and another friend, waiting for her to walk through the doors, when a guy walked up to Troy and said, “Did you hear that Jeff’s girlfriend died in her sleep last night?”

Jeff’s girlfriend was Rachel. I told myself this kid must be playing some sick joke, and that she would walk through those doors any moment, but that feeling in the pit of my stomach told me different. I ran up to the principal, and all he said was, “Just go to class, everything will be all right.” At that moment I knew, I knew Rachel had passed away.

I went to our guidance counselor and I didn’t even have to ask because the moment she looked at me, her eyes filled with tears. I can’t even begin to describe that wretched feeling. All I kept thinking was, She told me she was feeling better. She’s supposed to be here, why isn’t she? I went back to my locker. Nobody knew what had happened, they were all laughing and talking like normal. They looked at me, wondering why I had tears streaming down my face.

Then the announcement came over the loudspeaker, and I collapsed. It was as though those words made it real - she was really gone. I couldn’t control myself. I was like a child having a tantrum, kicking and screaming, yelling and crying. Troy didn’t even try to stop me, he just picked me up, carried me to his car and drove me home. I woke up my mom and cried in her arms for hours.

Then the tears just stopped, as if my eyes had just run out of them. Inside I was crying a river, but I couldn’t cry anymore. That day everyone kept calling, they wanted to talk, see how I felt. I hated that, I wanted to say, “How do you think I feel? My best friend just passed away.” I sat in my room in the dark, the window open and the fan on in the freezing weather, staring at the wall for hours. I remember being so cold, but not caring. I thought maybe if I got cold enough, I wouldn’t feel anymore. I was mistaken; I still felt that wretched feeling, it was growing worse and worse. I didn’t want to eat, drink or talk.

Then came her funeral, and I did not want to go. The last thing I ever wanted to see was my vibrant, hyper, loud Rachel lying in her coffin. I did go, and don’t regret it, but that image of her lying there will haunt me forever. I had to say my good-byes and put some kind of closure on this.

I will never forget Rachel, or any of her amazing qualities. And I will never forget what she brought to my life. I will forever count her as one of the greatest people in my life. My advice to everyone is to find a Rachel. People like her are rare, but they are out there. She helped me get through high school, even after death, because I use her advice every day. Everyone needs a real and honest friend. I truly hope that everyone has the chance to know someone like my Chi Chi at least once, because it’s people like her who help you get through life.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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LOVEYOU said...
Jul. 5, 2010 at 10:18 pm
I burst into tears reading this. You are an amazing writer, and I appreciate you are sharing this story with the world.
 
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