Emily was a friend to me during middle school and high school, during a time when I often felt excluded and cast off by my peers. Sometimes I (probably) really was being excluded, but more often, I think, I created that experience myself, filtering out the love and kindness shown me, replacing it with distrust and anxiety. Emily's friendship wiggled through that filter.
Emily's friendship was total, complete, and loyal: I knew that she would never hurt me.
My paranoia never crept into our friendship, I was never afraid that she would blow me off, never abandon me for someone cooler, or throw a party and not invite me.
Because I trusted her, I felt completely comfortable inviting myself over, flopping myself onto her couch while we watched Gilmore Girls and ate popcorn out of the huge plastic bags she brought home from the theater.
These days that filter is mostly dismantled; my friends and family have taken it apart slowly, teaching me how to love and be loved.
Emily was in on that project early: punching a hole, climbing through, giving me a hug.
I don't what happens when we die, and I don't know how it is that Emily can be so suddenly gone from the world.
I don't know what it's like to walk toward the light and I don't understand any ordering of the universe where this loss makes any sense at all.
I do know that the universe is stitched together with love,
and believe that that love touches us each personally.
I believe that wherever Emily is now, she's basking in that love,
the love she modeled so well
for her family,
for everyone who knew her.