The First Year Without You

November 1, 2015

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You died a year ago today. I could feel my life splitting into two parts. Before and After. I hoped I might get back some of the things I left in Before, but I am not sure how it works. I saw your Dad this morning. He said, this last year has been a bit of a blur, mostly focused on surviving. He’s right. It has.

People say you know you’re getting old when your friends start dying. That means I got old last year. It was the year of death; I lost childhood friends, family friends, treasured mentors and worst of all, you. I’d been having a whale of a time being young, being happy, inching towards success when suddenly cancer, suicide, accidents, funerals, eulogies, graves and cremation threw themselves into my path unexpectedly. I think a lot of me is still mourning. My dreams are filled with all the people I’ve lost, even the ones still alive, the ones that got away. Sam told me, Will told me, my Dad told me: you need to get over this and move on.

But I can’t get past it. I don’t have the right coping mechanisms and I’m scared of going forward without you jumping through the same hoops with me, as you always have done. And besides, you’re everywhere; you’re in my lyrics, in my playlists, in my wardrobe, in my Favourite Contacts, in my stories and anecdotes, in my inbox, in my cat ears, in the colours of the leaves, in pumpkins, in the names of all our unborn children, in Will’s stupid jokes, in my hard drive, in unedited photos and hours of rehearsal footage I cannot watch.

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People say that when somebody dies young it can remind you how precious life is, and how important it is to live every day to the fullest. This is a nice sentiment, except that is how I lived my life anyway. It turns out that there is a limit to carpe diem; if you push it too far it’s dangerous. It’s reckless, it’s breaking into where you shouldn’t be, it’s fooling around, losing things, insulting friends, drinking too much, staying out too late, worrying strangers, horrible, messy, not giving a shit about waking up tomorrow. It’s just easier.

You would hate this, you would hate me worrying about it, throwing so much away and taking the time to write this. What confuses me most is this: how far away are we going to get? You were 25, and I’ve caught up, as I normally do. Except, next year I’ll be 26 and you’ll still be 25. That’s all wrong. What about when I’m 30? It’s so much time to miss you. What if I get all the way to 40?! What then?! We were all so young. What happens when we grow again? Will we think, oh, we were so young when we were 25..? What does that mean for you?

You would not be at all happy with me this year. I’ve done all the things you told me not to, and I’m far quicker to get angry about things: boys, money, not being white. I’m either tired and lethargic, or restless and wild. I’m evasive and avoiding us. I mention you a lot – subconsciously, I catch myself after and feel stupid. I’m scared of our stories continuing without you. My Dad’s brother died when he was 27. I didn’t even know my Dad had a brother until I was about 12. I asked my Dad, why don’t you talk about your brother more? He looked at me kind of blankly and said, well, it was a very long time ago.

You and me won’t be like that. I’m so grateful, I’m so happy you were here – and you were here, you were here, YOU WERE HERE. You were here with me, you chose to spend your time with me, you chose to support me, you chose my projects, my gig, my shout, my birthday, this, us. I am so lucky I got that. If you were here you would probably choose all those things again. I have to think that. And sometimes, for a moment, the sun shines and makes everything golden, and the leaves are orange, orange everywhere, and I turn the volume up, and I remember that YOU WERE HERE and you chose this, and it makes me so so happy. And it is just for a moment, but it is a moment more than I had a year ago.

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Photo on 01-11-2015 at 13.59

25 responses to “The First Year Without You”

  1. ditajessica says:

    A touching and beautiful read. Thank you so much for sharing this with us.

  2. Bel says:

    Laila this is so heartbreaking, but I think you and everyone who knew Pete should feel proud that you’ve been able to get through this year supporting each other. You’re honestly my favourite blog writer because your writing is so emotive and honest, and you articulate your loss so well. Pete seems like a really wonderful person. I’m here for you if you’d like to chat tonight although I imagine you’ll be spending it with some friends and family, so much love xxxx

  3. Reshma says:

    Laila, this was such a touching post. I hope you will find comfort in writing down these thoughts and feelings. I’m so very sorry for your loss.

  4. Laila, I’m so sorry to hear you had to go through this heart-breaking loss last year… your words are SO impressive and full of love, Pete must be so proud of you. Yes, he will be 25 for ever; and he will be with you forever. Because we take them with us when they leave us so suddenly/abruptly; because they’re with us everywhere we go, with everything we do, in everything we think. And that’s what makes us stronger and strong-willed to enjoy life…. although they’re not here.

    It’s the second post I read this week about losing a loved one in an unexpected way. Both posts have triggered something long buried inside me because both of you have put down in words what I’ve never been able to say. And I’m so very grateful that you could.

    Take care.

  5. How very moving and touching. Pete would be proud. I am very sorry for your loss, just because one year has passed, it doesn’t mean it gets easier to bear. xx.

  6. ELADIO OLIVA says:

    LAILA VERY SORRY FOR YOUR LOSS、 YOUR WRITING SHOWS THE LOVE YOU HAVE FOR YOURFRIEND AND I AM SURE HE IS SENDING YOU HIS LOVE FROM HEAVEN

  7. Marneymae says:

    Sometimes, I think that when people disappear from our lives, either from death or some separation, it’s like the heart & mind remembers in a sort of way where the memories never go away… But are enfolded within the heart, like taffy.
    As if it gets stretched & embedded into the deeper layers as time continues to unfold, but the memories are always there within the fibers.
    Easily triggered by places, objects, songs, smells, events, etc.
    And while time & life & each day continues to “go on”,
    I don’t think one ever “gets over it”.
    Working with a counselor has been of benefit for me regarding grief, helping me work with it.
    Blessings on you & your dear friend.
    Wishing you all good things
    Thank you for your post.

  8. Kati says:

    This was very touching and sad to read. I also lost someone very dear, important and close to me. But believe me, one day it will be easier to cope with it.

    Have a good week,
    -Kati

  9. Jane says:

    This is beautiful Laila, I’m so sorry for your loss. I couldn’t even begin to imagine what it would be like.

  10. Christina says:

    Such a honest and heart stopping post. My heart breaks for you that you feel so much sadness a year on. I couldn’t imagine how it must feel, I’m sure he’s looking down on you and cheering you on. I hope you get back on the right path and continue being the success we all know you deserve. Live the life you would with him in your heart. I don’t know what to write to make it any easier for u. Thinking of u

  11. christina says:

    such a honest and heart filled post. my heart breaks for you that you feel so much sadness and hurt a year on. i can’t image how it must feel. I’m sure he’s looking down on you and cheering you on to be the success you deserve to be (i know it cliche but i believe that when people pass away, apart of them still remains) He is in your heart.
    Thinking of you, if you ever need to chat. XXX

  12. jennie says:

    When I was six a girl in my class at school passed away. I recognised that she had been ill for a long time, but I think I assumed that she would get better. We all got ill from time to time, but we always got better. But she didn’t get better. And one day we were called into an assembly and told that she wasn’t coming back. I couldn’t comprehend it. And honestly I still find it all pretty incomprehensible. My grandparents passed away recently and sometimes I catch myself imagining them in their little bungalow sitting down for tea, before I suddenly remember that they’re not there anymore. It’s an odd feeling. I’m not sure one ever truly does ‘get over’ things that impact us so deeply. The dust may settle and the edges may soften, but it’s always there and can catch us off guard at times. But that’s life as they say. Too complex to think about for too long.

    But I don’t believe deep connections can be lost, even if that person with whom the connection is shared is no longer here. Every moment you shared, those inside jokes, the love, will always be with you. And I think you’re being too hard on yourself – Pete would be continually proud of you.

  13. “I cannot say, and I will not say
    That he is dead. He is just away.
    With a cheery smile, and a wave of the hand,
    He has wandered into an unknown land
    And left us dreaming how very fair
    It needs must be, since he lingers there.
    And you—oh you, who the wildest yearn
    For an old-time step, and the glad return,
    Think of him faring on, as dear
    In the love of There as the love of Here.
    Think of him still as the same. I say,
    He is not dead—he is just away.”

  14. Kim says:

    I think like you said keeping their memory alive in different ways is a great way to carry them with you <3

  15. Jen Saxton says:

    Oh Laila I’m so sorry for your pain. I’m so sorry that life can be so cruel and hard and you’ve seen and felt it. I’m so glad you have happy memories and had your life enriched by an incredible person. I don’t believe for a second this will be like your Dad’s brother. Everyone grieves so differently. My husband lost his sister a few years ago and he rarely talks about her. The only way I know to live in a world without my Dad is to talk about him often. Not constantly, but often. I remember how he would have laughed, what he loved, memories we shared. I wonder what he would think of my life now. It is not anything like he would have imagined it and I find it strange he knows nothing about my hopes and dreams now. I miss him desperately and my heart still hurts. But I have learned to live again. I can laugh and feel happy without guilt again. It is possible. Thinking of you at a time of year that must be particularly painful. Live and grieve and hurt and laugh how you need to. You know you best.

  16. Denise says:

    “Being lethargic and tired or wild, evasive”. I read it all, dear Laila. Don;t ask me why, but I managed to read it all. When I started, I thought “leave a comment to Laila saying you couldn’t read, or better, you avoided reading the post, she will understand”. But somehow I read. And I feel lethargic and so tired. I totally get your feeling. “There’s a limit to carpe diem; if you push it too far it’s dangerous. It’s reckless, it’s breaking into where you shouldn’t be,losing things” losing people who care about us. But it’s exactly like that. You are dealing with the process. In two years you will feel better, I guess. Long, yes, but so is life. And yes, it’s an honour to know the ones who really mean a lot to us, and to whom we mean(t) a lot too. Ok, need to stop now 🙂 Hope you are fine, sincerely!
    DenisesPlanet.com

  17. Zoraida says:

    As others have said, this is both beautiful and heartbreaking. I admire your ability to be so honest in this post, and you have inspired me greatly. xx

  18. Nitin says:

    This is really touching…I am very sorry for your loss… passing on of someone dear is like passing away of a part your soul… your coming out and sharing it with us is really brave.

  19. […] Previous posts on Pete:  1/2/3/4/5/6/7 […]

  20. I found your blog through Twitter and this post broke my heart. I’m so sorry for your loss. It seems even more unfair because your writing is so fill of life.

    Not that it helps, or even matters, but sending you very best wishes. xx

  21. […] is what I most feared when you died. Everyone advancing to the next bit of life. Because I knew it would make the gap between us […]

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