8 years ago, I learned of my friend Evan’s passing (May 19, 2012). He was 19.

He’s been gone longer than the amount of time I knew him. I met him as a freshman in high school, where I had many classes with him and his twin brother Conor. We were fast friends. Our group would have Twister tournaments on the regular – which were very competitive. Evan would steal my iPod in class so he could listen to The Shins, so I mixed him a CD for his birthday so he could have all the songs that he put at the top of my “most played”. He and I would email regularly, and chat on AIM, where he blessed me with wisdom beyond our years. In my yearbook that year, he wrote “I hope you know how much is means to have a friend in a new place.”

As high school went on, we weren’t always in the same classes. But we always found moments to acknowledge each other – to take pictures at semi formal like this one. Our senior year, he directed me in a student written production. I watched as he won a SlimFast chugging contest at the cast party. When I was Roxie in Chicago, he was the Emcee. I saw the relationship I shared with Evan in his relationships with a majority of girls in the cast – he was the one you would go to for advice.

When I learned he was gone, it was surreal. I hadn’t even been to our hometown for months, hadn’t seen him since college started. It still felt like he was away at school, and that we’d meet up again someday. I spent hours that night, looking through our old conversation archives. And I came across the line in one conversation marked exactly 3 years from the day he died – “choosing out of fear is no choice at all”. Evan had been talking about how I was afraid to talk to boys for fear of rejection, but the way he put it – it spoke to all of my anxieties. I vowed, for him, to never let fear get in the way of the choices I made.

I tattooed the quote on my spine. I found that I was embarrassed by it to some degree after. I didn’t like people asking where the quote came from. I also wondered if I was a poser for having it. Evan and I were only friends for a few years. Would he laugh at me for having it? My mom shared a picture of it with his mother, as they spoke often, but I never shared with social media where it came from.

But I remember, those years were the only ones that he had. As my life goes on, it’ll seem like such a small fraction of my own. But I still carry him with me every day.

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