When I was 15, one of my closest friends died unexpectedly. Our physics teacher broke the news to me after I’d sat an exam, having wondered all the way through why my friend wasn’t there doing the same. I still don’t have the words to describe how I felt: it was something approaching shock, distress, disorientation. I didn’t know what to think, much less what to do. I spent many nights awake and many days in a daze.
Fifteen years later, when I was in graduate school, another friend died suddenly, a man I loved very much. I remember checking my phone and finding out, to my dismay, via text message. But while my initial response was much the same as before, there was a palpable difference in how I felt later on. While I was again surprised and saddened, I was much less disoriented than I’d been as a…
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