Two years ago, I got home from work to the news that my friend didn’t. Two years ago, I picked up the phone and cried with my roommate, completely at a loss for words. Two years ago, the brilliant light that was Alex Foto left earth and joined the stars.
Losing Alex was a great loss, one that I will feel for forever. I have spent days in bed aching for her, and I have cried so much that my tears run dry. But I have gained so much since August 2014, too, things I might not have gained if things had worked out differently. I gained a family in my classmates, a group of people who love me anyway and that takes care of me. I’ve made new friends, I’ve traveled, I’ve learned how to be sad but still be okay. I’ve learned how to be strong.
I had the privilege of celebrating Alex with her family and friends in London today. We visited her and told stories and laughed and cried together, united by our love for a remarkable girl. It was important, but it was impossible. It hasn’t gotten easier in the past two years, but today was harder than most.
Alex was in the sunshine and the breeze today. Little reminders of her were everywhere – a green ribbon, a jar of Nutella, a single drop of water that landed on my arm. I felt warm and surrounded by love, which is how I felt every time she and I spoke in the one year we spent together.
To know Alex was to love her, and I’m so grateful I had that chance. As I prepare to go on my placement in September, I can’t help but feel her absence more and more. Alex doesn’t get to go with us in person, but I’m carrying her with me everywhere I go. And when I look at the stars from my new home in Sri Lanka, I’ll know she’s up there somewhere, having the time of her life.