Your Journey, Your Destination

By: Lauren

The news struck at 11:25am, Wednesday morning. I just stepped out of my school building, debating whether to walk down the street to get a bento for lunch, or drive a little further away for a meaty sandwich. Absentmindedly I scrolled through emails on my phone, the sun shining on my arms, when I saw It. The words swam around on my phone screen, and I had to reread the message three more times before I fully comprehended what it said.

“Pray for the XXX family. Brian is on life support, and his family are saying their goodbyes.”

My happy-go-lucky college friend, Brian, on life support. The father to a gorgeous 2 year old, fighting to breathe. A comrade who traveled with me to China during the summer, about to go to Heaven.

I didn’t know what to think. And so I cried.

Brian was more than a college buddy. When I struggled the most during the lowest parts of my eating disorder, he was one person I felt comfortable enough to talk to about my pains. His sister went through a similar situation (ironically, we both share the same name), and although he remarked he could never FULLY understand the agony of going through eating disorder treatment, Brian reassured me he would always be a support if I needed it.

Earlier this morning, 24 hours after receiving the sobering message on my phone, I got another note. Brian indeed passed away, leaving a wife, son, family, and friends behind. But in many ways, Brian didn’t leave us. I will always remember his comforting smile, passion for politics and human rights, and witty sense of humor. I will always see a Converse All-Star shoe and think, “Hey, those are Brian’s” (because they were one of his favorite pairs to wear).

Most importantly, I will remember his friendship–listening to me when I was struggling, buying me lunch–and know that his connection to my life made me a better person. When I was in the depths of an eating disorder, I could’ve cared less what impact I made in the world. All I worried about were the size of my thighs. But he would reassure me that I was Something Special. Me! Something Special! At the time they were possibly the two most comforting words I heard.

As I sit here remembering Brian, I don’t immediately think about his physical appearance, weight, or clothing size. I think about the qualities that made Brian unique. It’s those internal things that left a lasting impression on others. Eating disorders rob otherwise intelligent, empathetic, loving individuals of their inherently good qualities, and instead leaves them weak and frail. Thanks to Brian’s presence in my life, I know that being a friend to others and genuinely loving them makes SUCH a tremendous impact on society–moreso than what dress size I wear. I don’t remember how much Brian weighed, and I highly doubt others will think of my size when the time comes for me to go to Heaven.

This post is part therapeutic for me, and hopefully inspiration for those fighting an eating disorder. Know that you are more special than your size. In fact, you are Something Special. Know that you CAN make a difference in someone’s life. Know that life is precious, and it’s a travesty to waste another day ill. Know that change is possible, and there is hope in even the darkest times. Life, like treatment, is a journey. Keep on battling through, and one day your “Heaven”, your destination, will be waiting for you.

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