What You've Done - Lauren Brown's Personal Essay

Lauren Brown
Ms. Pahomov
English 3
22 December 2017
What You’ve Done

It’s not easy to believe that anything good can come from your own best friend’s death, but I’ve found that changing my mindset is really the only option that will make life without you more bearable. That constructive and positive mindset is the only thing that brings me a step closer to the myth they call ’acceptance.’ That mindset is the only thing that helps me to portray optimism. That mentality is the reason why I no longer despise him. It feels silly to say that I began to hate you after you died. It feels silly because why hate someone that’s not alive? It feels silly because why hate someone who you call your best friend?
On March 3rd, 2015, I went to sleep happy. Nothing seemed to be going wrong. I was an eighth grader with a lot of good friends, a healthy-ish family, and high grades. Money wasn’t important yet, I still got good sleep, and Ed Sheeran was releasing new music. Everything was good. Or so I thought. On March 4th, I woke up to a text from my classmate, Elizabeth. I was immediately confused when I saw that she begging me not to go on Instagram. Why was she trying to convince me that everything would be alright? What the hell was she talking about? Obviously I went straight to Instagram to see what she was trying, but failing, to shield me from. Image after image after image on my timeline were photos of your beautiful face with the understating word ‘MISSING’, plastered across the bottom.
For the next four days, I followed the same helpless routine. I woke up at 8 AM every morning and walked two miles to the Chestnut Hill Library. I would print out as many ‘MISSING’ posters as I could afford and post them all over my town. Do you remember the one summer I that worked there? At that painfully grim library? When you would stay on the phone with me until I got there safely and then laugh at my dreading the rest of the day? I remembered those phone calls for those next four days. You wouldn’t answer the phone no matter how many times I called. My worry gradually turned to anger the more and more times I tried to reach you. I couldn’t understand why you would ‘run away’ without telling me. I was hurt and confused I felt like I hadn’t done my job as a friend if you couldn’t even trust me enough to talk to me about it.
I remember that my dad kept saying to me “Karyn, if you know where he is you need to tell me. We can help him. I promise he won’t get in trouble; his parents just need to know he’s safe.” I would cry and yell at him and tell him that I wish I knew. To be honest, I didn’t care at all whether you got in trouble. I just wanted you to be found and to be home safe. I felt the pain of not knowing simply as your friend, so I couldn’t even try to imagine how your parents were feeling.
On March 7th I got a phone call from an unknown phone number while I was hanging signs in a Starbucks. I answered eagerly and was disappointed by the strange deep voice that greeted me. For those four days my heart jumped whenever my phone rang. I had this ongoing hope that it could be you. To my surprise it was a detective; He started by apologizing for ‘bothering me’ and explained that I wasn’t in trouble. He said that the reason he called was because I was one of your most frequent contacts and was hoping I could help him. He began to interrogate me immediately. The questions he asked about you were really intrusive and personal, but I answered every single one honestly and to the best of my ability. I remember being frustrated when I didn’t know the answers to some. I just wanted you to be found. He told me to save his number and not to hesitate to call him if I found out or remembered anything, even if it seemed irrelevant.
Then there was March 9th. That day was the worst of my life, Cayman. My mom and Jeff had taken me out of town so that I could put more posters up. They forced me into a lunch break and I listened to our favorite songs through my headphones to block out their chatting. I had heard enough ‘maybe-this and maybe-that’s’ and it didn’t make things better. Then the food came and I put my phone face down on the counter. Suddenly, my mom’s phone started buzzing against the table and I saw the caller ID pop up. It said “Gene.” You know my parents cannot stand each other and they do not talk at all. I knew something was wrong. Then came the moment that I will never forget. For the first time my mind allowed itself to go into its darkest corners. For the first time I actually considered the possibility of you being dead.All of a sudden everything added up. I looked at my mom’s face and I just knew. My mom reached to pick up the phone and that’s when I screamed. I don’t remember much that happened after that.
I woke up in my bed, tucked in with Ed Sheeran playing quietly. My mom was sitting at the foot of my bed, rubbing my leg and staring at me. The white walls of my bedroom seemed to be growing father and farther apart and I felt so far from everyone, so alone. I tried to convince myself that the day would come when it wouldn’t hurt as badly, but I could not believe that. I did not believe that there could possibly be any reason for you to be gone. Or worse, for you to choose to be gone.
For a long time I thought that there could be a single person to blame. First I tried to blame myself. I was convinced that I could have done something to prevent it or that I should have somehow known. You always complimented me on how observant you thought I was. How could that possibly be true? I didn’t see that you were hurting; I had no clue. 
Next I blamed you. My sadness quickly turned to anger and for a while I was sure that you were simply selfish. My confusion and frustration caused my anger to turn into hatred. I’ve often felt like I hate you more than I love you.
Your suicide really caused a lot of change. Some ways for the worse, and in some ways for the better. Yeah, I miss you somehow every time I breath, but I’ve tried to enhance my perspective.
I’ve told you enough about the bad things your death has caused. I feel that it would be wrong for me not to tell you the ways that my life has changed for the better since the worst experience of my life.
Living without someone as good a friend as you made me want to be a better friend to the ones I have. I’m trying to be more supportive if someone needs help. I’m now even more loving to the people I care about because I now recognize that time really isn’t promised and you never know when will be the last time you will see that person. My appreciation for the people in my life increased immensely.
Less relevantly, I now know that suicide will never be an option for me no matter what happens to me because I’ve experienced it first hand and therefore I know how badly it affects people. The cliché “Everything happens for a reason” used to be a lot harder to believe. Although it is sometimes seems untrue, I’ve seen how my relationship between myself and the changing world has changed in ways in for the better.

Comments (6)

Lauren Matthews (Student 2019)
Lauren Matthews

1.I learned that your past experiences are shaping you to be aware. I have also learned that why you are so patient with the people you love and thoughts. 2. Lauren's Personal techniques work because how her essay is direct to on person. Repetition is used to make a point that this essay is something she feels strongly about.

Leah Bradstreet (Student 2019)
Leah Bradstreet

I learned about a major event in your life that has affected you emotionally and personally to this day. It is clear how much Cayman meant to you and still means to you. Descriptively writing out the stages from the missing posters to finding out the truth really struck me. It caused me to become invested in what happened next. I felt I was there, as a visitor, unable to do anything. I appreciated the personal tone you took when writing this and how deeply personal it made your piece.

Ashton Reigner (Student 2019)
Ashton Reigner
  1. I learned that you know what suicide really is. People know that suicide is taking your own life but you have taught me that you know the real pain of everything that happens after. No one close to me has committed suicide so I can only imagine the feeling. Through your writing you showed me this feeling more than anythings ever has. Suicide sucks.
  2. I thought your audience technique was great. I didn't see too much repetition because I was so focused on the audience. You talked to him very well. You acted as like he was really reading the words you were typing. You couldn't have done this any better.
Avraham Cantor (Student 2019)
Avraham Cantor
  1. I learned that you are one of the best writers that I have ever seen. Your ability to portray the pain and loss that you felt from your friend's death was such an intimate and intense experience that I felt like I was experiencing everything you felt during the story (although that's far from the truth because I could never truly feel how you felt). I learned that you are able to show how much you care about the people around you in writing so well that I feel like anyone could truly immerse themselves in this experience. Although I've seen first hand how loving and caring you are with your friends, peers and loved ones, it's amazing that your style of writing shows vividly how much you cared and continue to care about your friend.

  2. Your techniques were clear as day. I want to applaud you on writing such an amazing piece about such a tough topic because it's easy to spill your heart out on paper but it's very difficult to get people to empathize with your pain, love, loss, happiness etc. You use these techniques to your advantage to really pull at the reader's heartstrings and make them feel what you're feeling.

Side note: I'm always here for you and I love you very much even though you're like 40 minutes older than me!

Nzinga Suluki-Bey (Student 2019)
Nzinga Suluki-Bey

I learned why you are so caring and always ask questions to your friends. We have previously talked about the death of your best friend, but I now understand how deeply it affected and affects you in the now. I liked the voice you used, but I wished it was more prominent. I like the different tones and I could tell when you were almost just saying things just to say them. I also liked the repetition because it made the essay lighten up a bit.

Lauren Brown (Student 2019)
Lauren Brown
  1. I used quite a bit of repetition in this essay. This gives the text a bit more of a poetic feel and a portrayal of seriousness.
  2. I chose a unique audience for my writing. The essay is directed a to the sole audience of Cayman Naib, my late best friend.