I Hope You Found Wonderland, Gabs.

My best friend died yesterday.

Typing it out loud hurts. It feels like it makes it real and I don’t want it to be real. I want it to be a joke or a cruel prank or a dream because I don’t understand.

She was only eighteen.

I first met Gabi through Musical Theatre Workshops. We both liked Alice in Wonderland and Panic! At The Disco and horror movies. I couldn’t tell you our first conversation because I don’t remember all of the details. It kills me a little bit to know that I can’t even recall the first thing I said to her. But, honestly, the first day wasn’t what mattered. Gabi and I clicked from the second we talked. I remember that much. We ended up hanging out a few days later and roaming around bookstores and malls until our feet hurt from walking and our sides hurt from laughing.

Gabi was one of those people that just loved with her whole heart. Once she cared about you, she wouldn’t stop. She never gave up on people, even the ones she probably should have. She was convinced that she could turn the worst people good because she wanted to believe it. I think part of her needed to. I remember every time a boy broke my heart or hurt my feelings, she would be completely prepared to go beat him up or text him something that was sure to make him cry. She was the kind of person who would protect the people she loved with her life.

We had so many adventures, too many to count. From sitting in the parking lot at Lady A and just talking about life and drinking energy drinks to being camp counselors for MTW and bursting into tears when it was all over. From sleepovers and that time we dyed my hair bright red and made the bathroom look like a murder scene to watching the first three Saw movies because “Molly, they’re not even that bad.” Spoiler alert, they were that bad and I still have nightmares about Jigsaw. But it was worth it because Gabi was there to hold my hand and let me break her fingers on the scary parts, a.k.a. all of them. It didn’t matter that I was at college for the last half of our friendship or that we both got super busy. We still found time to talk and catch up. I remember that time we took dozens of photos at your birthday party and even though most of them were blurry and ridiculous, they’re still my favorites.

Gabi, I have enough memories with you to fill at least three scrapbooks, but right now all I can think about is that we can’t make anymore and it hurts. I keep racking my brain, trying to figure out what happened and what I could have done to help. I knew that you were sad and in a bad place, but I thought it was getting better. I just keep thinking that I talked to you the day before you did it and you were fine. Or, maybe you just said you were because you didn’t to be a bother. I don’t know.

You were never a bother, Gabs. Every time we talked, it made me unbelievably happy. You were always beautiful. You were kind and you were sweet and you were special. You deserved to be here and you deserved to be deliriously happy. I’m sorry that life got in the way and you felt that you had no other option. I know you felt like no one would care, but I had to leave class because I was crying so hard this morning, so I want you to know that you were wrong. I’m sorry that you didn’t realize how loved you really were. You’re forever my best friend and you were supposed to be the Maid of Honor at my wedding. I don’t know what to do because you’re just gone and this was never supposed to happen.

I snapchatted you today because for a few seconds I forgot. I waited for you to open it and then it all came crashing down again and I couldn’t breathe. I just sat there and tried to understand. I’m a planner. I always have been. But I never planned for this and now I don’t know how to act or what to do or what to say. All I know is that it hurts and I don’t like it.

I feel like part of my heart is missing now and I can’t find the words to say and that’s not normal because I’m a writing tutor and an English major and words are supposed to be my thing. But you’re not here and that’s not normal either, so I don’t know if I even know what normal is anymore.

I love you, Gabi. I’m sorry that wasn’t enough. And maybe it’s pointless to think about what-ifs and what-could-have-beens, but that’s really the only thing I can do right now.

I’m sorry.

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Once Upon A Time…

I like fairy tales. I like them a lot. I’m a total sucker for happily-ever-afters and Prince Charming and glass slippers. And I like to think that everyone is living a fairy tale, whether they know or not.

I mean, think about it. Fairy tales aren’t just about the romance. They’re not just about kissing the right guy at midnight or turning frogs into princes. They’re about finding yourself and getting your happy ending because no one is going to go out and get it for you.

Look at Cinderella. Her life started out pretty horrible. She lost her dad and ended up with a stepmom who couldn’t care less about her. She was basically stuck in a life of abuse and neglect. She was in an absolutely horrible situation, but she refused to have a horrible attitude. She was kind and sweet and caring and never stopped dreaming. Obviously, having a fairy god-mother helped move things along, but Cinderella was the one that decided to go out there and make her dreams come true by attending the ball. She went out and danced her heart away until the clock struck midnight. She fell in love and fought with all of her heart to find her Prince Charming.

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How many of us have lost a family member? How many of us have had that friend that gives us the push we need in the right direction to fight for what we want?

And what about Elsa? One of the most recent Disney movies, taken from a tale by Hans Christian Anderson, Frozen tells the story of the Ice Queen. After gravely injuring her sister  Anna as a child, Elsa takes her powers over ice and hides them under gloves and layers until she becomes Queen after her parents pass away tragically. Though Elsa wraps herself in shields of aloofness and coldness, it is clear that she misses her sister just as much as Anna misses her. She hides herself in her room for years, terrified that she will cause hurt to someone she loves unconditionally.

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How many of us have had something that we are ashamed of that keeps us from relationships or even just friendships? So many people have done things that they regret and feel ashamed of that make them shy away from comfort and people. The fear of the past prevents an astounding number of individuals from moving on to the future.

This happened in the case of Elsa, though she eventually learned to “let it go” and just be herself. We can take the mistakes in our past and turn them into lessons. No one is perfect and we can’t expect to never mess up. The best we can do is apologize to the people we hurt and try to find a way to fix it.

My personal favorite fairy tale is the story of Alice in Wonderland. As most people know, this is not a typical fairy tale by any means. Some may not even call it one. I do, however. I love it because Alice is just a child driven by curiosity and wonder. She isn’t thinking about romance or love. She just sees a rabbit with a waistcoat and a pocket watch and wants to know where it is going. Obviously, she follows the rabbit and falls down the rabbit hole, finding herself in a new and strange world when she lands at the bottom. After experiencing a flood of her own tears, a tea party, and a trial, not to mention her almost execution, Alice is woken up by her sister, revealing that the entire story was a curious dream.

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Whether you look at the story as a dream or not, we can all relate to Alice’s struggles. Her curiosity leads to her to new friends and a new place, but also gets her into trouble when she isn’t careful. We should never stop being curious, but we should always be careful to appreciate what we already have.

Fairy tales are full of morals and lessons, but if you look closely enough, you might find more of yourself than you thought in Ariel, Aladdin, or the Mad Hatter. Our lives are already fairy tales. We just have to treat them as such.