1 November: All Saints’ Day

In Portugal a lot of people visit graves of loved ones on All Saints’ Day.

Since today is All Saints’ Day, I decided to write about a more serious and difficult subject: how it is to lose someone you love.

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Losing someone is hard. It gets harder when you don’t get it or don’t have anyone to talk with. My grandmother died when I was 2 years old, and I didn’t really understand it. I was a baby, so I didn’t really know what it was to lose someone.

My Opa died in 1997. I was 9 at the time and I have to admit, even though it was hard for me, I went back to my daily life pretty quickly. I loved my Opa and I also cried for him, but at 9 years old I didn’t really understand it yet. Once I became older, I started missing him more and more. That’s also the reason why the things he gave me are so valuable to me, because they’re the only things I have from him.

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I was 18 the first time I was really confronted with death. 

Her name was Samantha. I met her at summercamp and we were polar opposites. She was strong minded and knew exactly what she wanted and was never afraid to be herself. Even though we were so different, we became really good friends with a strong connection. We ended up going to the same university – in my first university – and was in the same major as I. We had different friends, but would often meet after class for coffee just the two of us. Once a colleague of ours bumped into us as was suprised to see us together – no one really knew how good friends we were, because we didn’t have the same friends and were hardly ever together during class.

I can still remember how we met that Friday and spoke about classes. She told me about a party she was attending the next evening and something urged me to tell her not to go. She brushed me off and said she would be fine and I didn’t need to worry so much. We sent each other some SMS later in the afternoon, but that was the last time we saw each other.

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Sunday I received a phone call from her brother, but didn’t hear it and didn’t answer. As always, I forgot to call back. On Monday he called me again while I was in class, and I made a mental note to call him in the evening. Samantha hadn’t come to class and I thought “That girl will never change”, smiling to myself.

Reality hit me in the evening. For some reason I went to our university website and there I saw a message saying: “We are mourning for Samantha”. My heart instantly felt heavy, but I tried convincing myself it was some mistake since her last name is pretty common in Portugal. With shaking hands I clicked on the link and her photograph appeared, smiling at me from the screen.

I don’t really remember what I thought, I honestly think I was in shock. I know I went downstairs to my parents who were watching tv in the living room and my Dad asked me “What’s wrong with you?”. I dropped to my knees and started crying. Eventually I was able to tell them what happened and even though my parents tried to support me, they didn’t know how good friends we were. I never really talked about my friends to my parents, that’s just how I was.

IMG_3383She died in a car accident, when a car from the other lane drove against the car she was in. 

I was 18 years old and the world felt like it kept spinning without me. I still regret not answering her brother’s phone call right away – even though she was already gone. The university didn’t even tell us anything and I ended up having to contact our colleagues – thank goodness we had a common email for the class, I don’t think I’d be able to write every single one of them. This was almost 10 years ago and I miss her like it was yesterday. I have hardly spoken about it with anyone. In the beginning I would go to the cemetery every month.

She was a very good friend, she was always there for you, always loyal. I learned how to be a good friend from her. She wasn’t scared to be who she was and she’s still a role model for me, so I’m not scared to be who I really am. She gave me the courage to speak up for myself and helped me whenever things were bad, as I helped her. It was a real friendship, unlike any other.

Every day with our loved ones is a gift. Take care of it and tell those who are important to you, how much you care. Don’t let small things get between you, time is limited and valuable. Take the chance this year’s All Saints’ Day to tell those who are still here, how much they mean to you.

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