I don’t wanna grow up; I just wanna be a Toys’R’Us kid.

Today, a friend of mine’s mother passed away. I had never met the woman, but I know she’s been sick on and off the entire time my friend, one of my first in New York, and I have known each other. But platitudes like “she’s in a better place” or “at least she’s not feeling any pain” really don’t seem to do much good for anyone who hears them. It’s almost the opposite — like saying, “Hey, you’re mom isn’t hurting anymore so you really shouldn’t be so sad.” So what should you say?

I’ve never been good with comforting people, or dealing with other’s emotions at all, actually. It’s one thing to know that I should be there for my friend, should offer to go to the funeral and support her — it’s another thing entirely to do that and not get swept up in trivial things, like the Celtics clinching the Cavs’ series.

I foolishly put myself in her spot the other day, imagining it was my dad who just died and I had to convince myself not to call him, just to make sure he was okay even though I knew that nothing could have happened to him in the time since we’d last spoken. I’ve always had a strong imagination, though, and watching a friend’s grief does nothing to stop that.

I can admit to myself, and by extension the World Wide Web through this blog, that if a friend from home just lost a relative, the situation would be different. Last year, a close friend’s mother passed and there was literally nothing more important than getting back to Jersey to be there for her and her family, who I’ve known my entire life. I wonder if just the length of time one person can know another factors into that extra effort that is willingly put forth without thought, or if, as awful as it is to think, some people just matter more. I don’t like to think that, to think that one friend can be held to different standards than another — but that’s probably how it is.

Not offering any comfort may just be my own cowardice; at twenty I hate being faced with any reminders of mortality, no matter what the case is. I don’t believe it to just be a fear of death, that’s too simple. It’s more a fear of not being young anymore, of growing up and losing vitality and vibrancy and the joie de vivre. My father is turning fifty in a few weeks, and I know aging bothers him a lot more than it does my mother. I get that from him, I guess, though it is silly for someone my age to care about growing older so much unless it is a desire to finally reach twenty-one. For the record, I couldn’t care less about being twenty-one and I sometimes find myself wishing I was still a teenager.

This blog seems to jump from point, or non-point, rather, to non-point. I do have one though — a point that is.

They say the friends we meet in college are the ones that will last the rest of our lives. If that’s true, no amount of personal discomfort should keep us from being there for our friends; regardless of if it’s being there at a funeral, or letting a friend crash on the couch during finals’ week to escape a commute to Long Island. Though no longer kids, people in their late teens and early twenties still have that innate selfishness that wants everything in life to revolve itself around their comfort — but that’s not what happens. Accepting that, and being there for other people despite ourselves, is one of those first, and terrible, steps to growing up.

-Mary K

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