In my last post, I mentioned that November was a difficult time for me. A month ago yesterday, one of my closest friends, Gernard, unexpectedly passed away.
Complete opposites from the get-go, G and I always joked that were “unlikely friends.” We met at work, yet we never actually worked together. He always called me dramatic; I told him he never elaborated enough. He was super confident; I was awkward and shy. He was an optimist; I was a realist. He never let anything get him down; I was always venting about something. He hated taking pictures, and well, I have this blog — hah. And yet, despite all that, we both somehow understood each other completely.
We became fast friends bonding over stories of his worldly travels. They were actually what jump-started my wanderlust, and he was the one who pushed me to go to Paris both times. He taught me that extra comfort seats were worth the extra money on long-haul flights, how to beat jet lag in just 2 days, and gave me one of the greatest pieces of advice when it came to traveling: never treat or plan a vacation like you’re never going back, because then you never will.
He was always positive and full of life. He didn’t believe in waiting for things to come his way; if he wanted something, he went out there and did everything he could to get it, and if it didn’t work out, at least knew he tried. And, unlike others who often just say, “we should hang out,” he actually did. And if that didn’t make G special enough, he was always pushing others to pursue their dreams. It’s one of the things I loved and admired most about him… he was always inspiring everyone to be their best self, to never settle.
I considered G to be my life coach. The personal growth and self discoveries I experienced this year were largely a product of our friendship. He never shied away from telling me the hard truth or pointing out when I was holding myself back because of fear. And even when I was being frustratingly stubborn, he never gave up on me. He reminded me often that making mistakes is all part of the deal, that what is truly important is that I always be honest with myself, keep learning and never stop growing as a person.
He was also one of my biggest cheerleaders, especially when it came to this blog. For the longest time, I tried to downplay that I even had it, especially at work, because I was worried that people would think I was trying to be somebody. When I told G this, he said he couldn’t understand why I acted ashamed of something I loved doing. He told me I should proudly show it off, and that he was going to buy me a shirt that said, “I blog!”
I totally thought he was joking about the shirt part, but he really meant it and he really did buy one for me. This “blah blah blog” tee is one of the sweetest, most thoughtful gifts I’ve ever received, and I’m so disappointed that he never saw me wearing it before he passed away. I always told myself there would be another opportunity to wear it for him, and I never once considered the alternative: that time would run out.
There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t miss Gernard. I see things all the time that remind me of him, that make me want to text or call him — and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I don’t want to forget him. I am a better person for having known him.
If there is anything I hope you take away from this post, it’s that time is absolutely precious. I didn’t know what that saying truly meant until I lost my friend, and by then it was too late to tell him how much he meant to me, to thank him for making such an impact on my life. I know he knew it, but I still wish I had told him. So please, tell your loved ones how special they are. And don’t let excuses deter you from pursuing your dreams. Live a life you love, and don’t settle for any less.
It’s been a long day without you, my friend
And I’ll tell you all about it when I see you again
We’ve come a long way from where we began
Oh, I’ll tell you all about it when I see you again
This post is dedicated to Gernard Feril
(December 13, 1979 – November 13, 2015)
T-Shirt: Shop Sincerely Jules (old)
Cardigan: Target (similar here and here)
Jeans: Current/Elliot (old, new style here)
Boots: Sam Edelman (old, similar here)
Bag: Rebecca Minkoff
Necklace: Stella & Dot
Bracelets: Jawbone UP2 activity tracker
Flash tattoo: Flash Tattoos
Photographer: Julianne of “The Wink”