He was my light in a dark world.
He taught me to be myself despite being in a place that tries to change you.
He loved me when we were together and when we were apart – even if that apart spanned weeks, months, or years.
His time on earth was too short, but I hold him in my heart every day.
I can’t sum up what he meant to me or capture his essence and spirit in a few words because it is impossible.
Three years ago today, my best friend Amit Ramnarine passed away. It was tragic and horrible. There was a house fire and Amit didn’t make it out. His body was burned beyond recognition. It took the coroner nearly 3 days to positively identify him.
He was mere inches from the door – from life.
He was 23.
His life – that was just beginning – suddenly ended.
In those few inches, in those few moments, the world lost a beautiful person, and I lost a piece of me forever.
Two of my close friends called to tell me that Amit was gone. They delivered the news as carefully and gently as they could. They wanted to tell me in person, but every West Palm Beach news station was covering the massive fire down Lion Country Safari Road on Stallion Drive. My friends were afraid I would see it on the TV.
When they told me, I screamed bloody murder. It was horrifying. It was piercing. It was an instant gut-wrenching pain. I gasped for air. I slid down the bathroom wall, laid on the ungodly cold tiles and wailed like a baby for hours. No one, nothing could console me. I fell asleep. I woke up. I remembered. I screamed again and the cycle continued in a vicious fashion.
The next day, I somehow managed to drive myself to classes in Boca Raton. I sat there hearing a professor rambling about variables and inverse relationships. I watched the news reports of the fire trying to convince myself it was not real. Instead I tortured myself with the images of a home engulfed with flames. My blood shot eyes revealed to classmates and friends the pain I was trying to disguise. They asked questions, I broke down in tears. I did not want their pity, that only made it worse, because that meant it was true.
The next few hours and days are a blur. I did what I do best. I put on my best face and became numb to everything around me. I met my two friends at Amit’s parents’ house and sat in silence as Amit’s family recited Hindu prayers. I attended his funeral trying to understand the Hindu after life.
After the funeral, I listened as my friends recalled their favorite memories with Amit while we were standing in a parking lot, which was befitting since the four of us spent hours goofing off in Palm Beach State College’s parking lot playing frisbee, tag and just talking.
The three of us promised to not lose touch with each other, to not get too busy to talk, to spend time together. We were no longer 18 year old kids starting college, we had grown to 22 year old adults. During that growing, we grew apart. We felt that Amit’s tragedy had a way of reuniting us and we wanted to honor him. We then went our separate ways.
I still had my mask on, but when darkness fell I was in hell. The pain rushed back over me, the tears came like a flood. I was lost in the bottomless pit of grief.
I can’t say how or when I got out of that pit. I don’t even know if three years later I am out of that pit. It still is absolutely heartbreaking. Like it or not, with or without you, life goes on. I know Amit would not want me to cry for him anymore, but I think my tears are not for Amit, but for myself.
I cry because he is not here.
I cry because I lost one of my best friends.
I cry because love like his is rare.
I cry because I feel like I failed him.
I often wonder if Amit knew how much he meant to me, how much I treasured our friendship and how much I loved him. I feel like I didn’t take the time to let him know. Even now, I get too busy to talk to my friends and family and to spend time with them.
And that is my tragedy. To those special people in my life, even if I don’t see you or talk to you often, I love you.
Please don’t forget to say that to those special people in your life. Nothing in life is guaranteed.
Amit, you showed me how to live, how to give, how to love and I will be forever grateful for that. You are my infinity.
I carry your heart. I carry it in my heart.