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A Sacrificial Kind of Love

Felix was my best friend in the whole world. He was someone that I loved so
deeply and so completely. Words seem useless and empty and completely
inadequate when I try to describe him. When I was going through my own period of
being suicidal, he was there like a rock. I would look into his soft eyes and no matter
how bad my day was, when I looked at him, I would feel my eyes soften. I could tell
that he loved me because he reserved a look only for me. He was like home, but he
wasn’t a boyfriend. He’s gay. I’m asexual.
We talk about how love is sometimes a spectrum. There were a few moments
in our relationship that we were so close and loved each other so much that I would
look at him and he would look at me, and I think in those seconds we were thinking
the same thing: that our relationship was so intense and so exclusive that maybe
we could possibly be more than friends. We never really pursued that, but he filled a
really crucial hole in my life.
As an asexual, I don’t feel physical attraction to anyone or anything, but he is
the only person in the world that I looked at and loved so much and so deeply and
so completely and so comprehensively that I wanted to take care of and feed his
body even though I wasn’t attracted to it. I wanted make sure his body never hurt
because it was the vessel that held him, and he was the most valuable thing that I
had ever known. I looked at him one day and every aspect of him was so precious
and so invaluable to me. His wants, his fears, his personality, his quirks, the good
things, the bad things, everything that made him who he was were packaged in this
vessel that was just so incredibly valued to me.
He was my biggest support. He was always someone to go to. He heard
everything about my day: the big things, the small things. He heard a lot of things
multiple times because I had short-term memory loss. I would tell him a story and
get so excited about it that he wouldn’t have the heart to tell me that I had already
told it two or three times. He would act really excited every single time I re-told the
I loved him and he loved me. I wanted to take care of him. In the days where
we were both doing poorly, I started to sense a change in his energy. I sensed a
darkness about him that was never there before. I thought I could save us both. I
thought I could keep us both alive solely through the power of my love. I thought
that if I tried hard enough, we would both make it, but I sacrificed. I would’ve taken
whatever he was going through for him.
I remember how I first found out that Felix had attempted suicide. I was
sitting in orchestra, and our orchestra class was on the auditorium stage. We were
playing music, but I wasn’t really concentrating because Felix had been gone from
school that day. He had been gone the day before as well, and in my heart I knew
that something was wrong. I knew something was wrong way before that, but there
was just one day that he didn’t show up to school and after that day, I had the
feeling like something was wrong. While the orchestra was warming up, one of the
music directors, the band director Mrs. [Silviera], came into the auditorium, and she
called the orchestra director, Mrs. Caiazza, aside for a second. While they spoke I
was absent-mindedly watching them, but they looked grim, very grim. Whatever
they were talking about was serious. I don’t think I felt anything in that moment. I
was numb or a little raw because I suspected that something was wrong with Felix. I
had a raw feeling somewhere in the back of my mind and in my chest, as if
something scalding had been poured into my heart, and my heart was still healing.
We went back to playing, and we started playing a song. I hated the song. It
was a stupid piece, but I had to play it, and I had to play it well because I sat in the
first row. In the middle of the piece, one of the guidance counselors, Mrs. Sweet,
came up and interrupted the class to say: “Hi! Can I just borrow Kyla for a second?”
So Mrs. Caiazza looked at me like, “Okay, you can leave.”
I put down my viola and walked off the stage. At first I was thinking: Oh this
has to be something about graduation or grades, but as I was walking off the stage,
I had a greater sense of foreboding and terror because every step felt heavier and
time seemed to slow down. No one had said anything, but the feeling of foreboding
just became greater and greater as I realized that something was wrong with Felix.
We sat down in the auditorium seats and the orchestra resumed playing. Mrs.
Sweet looked at me and she said, “I’m close with the Torres family.” I don’t really
know what my face was doing in that moment, but I know that I felt my heart drop,
and I felt all the blood rush from my face and from my hands. I felt like all the
essence of me had suddenly imploded and was sitting in a hard, cold, stony pit
somewhere between my heart and my stomach. I was watching her face, and I saw
it change to reflect mine. I saw the shock and horror and grief. We were just staring
into each other’s eyes, and it seemed like the moment was taking forever. She
finally just said, “You didn’t know?”
“No I didn’t know.” But as I said that, I suddenly realized that I probably had
known as shocked as I was. I had been carrying that fear with me for a few days. I
had somehow felt that something was wrong, even though nothing was really out of
the ordinary.
I asked, “Is he dead?”
“No he’s not dead. He’s in the intensive care unit.”
“Did he try to kill himself?” She looked at me. I could feel the conflict coming
from her even in the hurricane of my own emotions.
“Yeah he did. Do you want to come with me?”
“No! I don’t want to come with you.” I wasn’t crying. I wasn’t reacting. I
wasn’t doing anything because I was in such horrible shock. I was just sitting there
like a deer in the headlights.
She said, “Are you sure you don’t want to come with me, because I don’t
really want you to be alone right now.”
“I’m not going to be alone. I’m going to walk up the stairs and sit on the
stage, and I’m going to take my place, pick up my instrument, and play my viola.”
She didn’t seem very convinced, but I really didn’t want to go with her so she said
“okay” and started walking away.
I was making the walk towards the stage, and it felt like the room was
spinning. The floor was dropping underneath my feet. The stage was lit up. The
auditorium was dark, but it seemed like somehow the auditorium became so much
darker. In that moment, I was looking at my seat, my instrument, the conductor, and
I was going to do it -- I was going to go take my seat and begin playing again. But as
I started walking up the stairs, I made eye contact with Mrs. Caiazza, and I just
broke. I turned away and changed course instead of walking onto the stage. I
walked behind the stage where there were some changing rooms and a bathroom,
and I found a little corner of the wall. There I sank into my knees shaking. I felt like I
had been shattered into thousand pieces and like something inside me had been
broken. The feeling that broke inside of me was something that was real; it was
pure, it was beautiful, and it was there. Maybe it was a belief in fairness or justice or
God or hope, just a belief in something, but I felt it break.
I was on the floor grabbing my hair. My heart hurt so bad; it hurt so bad. I
was delirious rocking back and forth, back and forth, pulling at my hair. I was
digging my nails into my cheeks so that I had scratch marks all the way down my
cheeks and jaw and neck. I was shaking and sobbing so hard I couldn’t breathe. I
was just trying to breathe. I was just trying to get air into my lungs. I felt scream
lines around my eyes and around my mouth from silently screaming. There were
people around me, but I don’t know when they came. I was vaguely aware of my
stand partner standing there with my friend from eighth grade who I had grown
apart from. I’m not sure who the other people were, but they were dream-like
shadows moving around me. It was as if they were not even there, as if we were not
even in the same world just then, but they were surrounding me. Meanwhile
someone was trying to ask: “Are you ok? Are you ok?”
Another person said, “Don’t touch her.” I don’t really remember being
touched, but the person was saying “Back away from her. Don’t touch her. Give her
some space.”
I was looking through all these people and looking up as if I was looking
straight at God, saying to him: “How could you do this to me? How could you break
me like this? There was just one thing in my life that I loved more than anything or
anyone, so completely and so comprehensively and so sacrificially. How could you
take him from me? How could you leave me alone after I’ve already fought this fight
by myself? How could you do this? I would have taken it for him. I would’ve done it
for him. I would have saved him if you had just given us the chance, if you had just
given me the chance to recover and grow.”
At the time I felt like I had barely come out of this unbelievably dark place,
like I had just cleared a forest of despair, hopelessness, grief, and pain. I had made
my way through, and all of a sudden Felix was gone from me. Even though all I
knew was that he was in the intensive care unit, I also knew that even if he lived, he
would never be the same. I knew that somehow he was gone from me. That proved
true. He came back, and he was never the same. There was something missing in
him, something that had broken probably in both of us.
After I had calmed down, Mrs. Caiazza came out and sent everyone away. We
talked and I have no idea what words were exchanged, but I remember she said,
“Will you come to the counselor’s office with me?”
“No, I don’t want to go there.”
“Do you want to just come sit in my room with me?”
“No, I don’t want to do that.”
“What are you going to do? Where are you going to go? I don’t want you to
be alone.” She was the second person to say this. At this point I was still sitting on
the floor and crying a little bit.
I said, “I’m going to go, and I’m going to buy some lunch, and I’m going to go
sit with my friends, and we are just going to eat.”
She then gave me this look that she’s never given me before. I never really
thought she liked me, but she gave me this look just then of half pity and sorrow
and half almost admiration. She said, “Okay”. I stood up shakily, but I wiped off my
face and walked out. I don’t know where I went, but I know for sure that I didn’t go
to eat lunch with my friends. I do remember that I think of this time as a defining
moment when I looked at God and thought: “How could you do this to me, and how
could you leave me? How could you let this happen?”