After losing someone our minds go into overdrive, analyzing every moment ever spent with them, grieving over the bad times, and cherishing the great memories. It seems hard not to blow things out of proportion. If only you had one more day, one more moment, one more chance to say the things you should have always said—knowing that you could’ve been there more than you were is a feeling that could haunt someone for the rest of their lives.
Nothing feels right after suddenly losing someone—wondering if there was something you could’ve done, going through the motions of a normal day, knowing that someone is gone. Having that unavoidable pit feeling in your stomach… no amount of talking or crying can make this feeling go away.
On October 4, 2015, K.j. Bettner was taken from his friends and family too soon. K.j. was someone who was known for his bigger-than-life smile, making this loss even more tragic. Never in my life did I imagine that I would be sitting here trying to write an article about losing K.j., but two years later, here I am.
I can remember the day of his service like it was yesterday, with friends and family gathered in front of the church in the middle of our hometown. It was a hot and sunny Sunday in October. Our close friends were piled into hard wooden church pews and sat in silence for a long time, thinking of the right thing to say to one another. It was during this service that reality hit: we were not invincible. I remember how hot the sun felt coming in through the glass stained windows on our tear-soaked cheeks, and the looks that the adults were giving us, thinking that we were all too young to be experiencing something like this.
Two years later, my friends and I have all learned a lot about ourselves. I think many people deal with death by wanting to be alone, but every year when October 4th rolls around I can’t help but to want to be back in my hometown, surrounded by the world that K.j. knew and loved.
There is a light at the end of the tunnel. Every year around the anniversary of his death, we all try to come together and talk about memories spent with our dear friend. This might be the only time of the year we get to see some of our friends, with our crazy college schedules. Sometimes it gets pretty emotional, and sometimes it’s just relieving to be surrounded by people who know exactly what you’re going through. The only silver lining to this story is the bond that has been created in grieving the death of our lost friend.
Make sure that you reach out to friends you haven’t spoken to in a while. Pay attention to people when they speak. Always take the chance to see an old friend when you can. Tie up loose ends and resolve any conflicts. Take the time to reflect on who you are.
When a friend passes, take a piece of how they lived and turn it into your own. Keep a support system that couldn’t be beat, and truly enjoy each day on this earth as if it is your last.
In loving memory of Kevin John Bettner. October 19, 1995 – October 4, 2015