Two days back, Hari and I lost a dear friend. Along with a sense of extreme disbelief, the other feeling that grappled me was guilt. Here was a girl who was the absolute personification of positive energy and selfless love. And anywhere she went, she made friends in an instant. A complete chatterbox, total live-wire, she was the epitome of fun and excitement. She loved with all her heart and never complained, never kept a grudge, never thought that maybe she shouldn’t trust everyone she met, and sometimes bore the brunt of that naïve trust too. But never have I ever seen her regret being herself, no matter what. Her life was an example of how shitty things can keep happening to you in every aspect of your life, but you just fight all that with a smile. She had a very special way of making people feel special about themselves, Hari and I being two of the lucky ones to have felt her affection. But the cynic that I have always been, I could never let myself open my heart completely to her love and affection because of two questions in my mind – “How can anyone be so positive with so much bad happening around her?” “How can anyone be so good all the time?”

While I had so much fun whenever I met her, there was always a part of me that held me back from letting myself become too attached to her, because the bitter cynic that I still am, I could never understand how anyone could handle life and its tests like she did, how anyone could trust and love others like she did. Every time she started her messages to me, with a “Hey Super-lady”, my first instinct would be to think, “I’m no super-lady, why is she calling me that when she really doesn’t know how flawed I am?” With every term of praise and endearment that she shot at me, my instinct was to doubt myself and question “Why??” And with that question, I restrained myself from ever letting myself go and embracing a much more wholesome and amazing friendship that we could have had. But she never noticed that restraint; if she did, she never showed it either. She just continued to be as loving as she always was.

The news of her death has been a much-deserved slap on my face, opening my eyes to the realization that there was no “How?” to her goodness or her love. It was simply who she was. It was how she dealt with all the shit that life threw at her – with grace, joy and absolute selflessness. Even in her last days, she stayed true to herself by never letting anyone, not even her best friends, know what she was going through. She wanted to leave only happy memories. She never wanted anyone to ever think of the pain that she might have endured all alone in her last days. Her priority was always the joy of others, till her last breath.

And when her best friends cry about how guilty they feel that they couldn’t be there for her in the end, I can only console them by saying how very well they had taken care of her when she needed them the most. It was her choice to not let them suffer by seeing her suffer – and that was proof of how much they meant to her, and how amazing they were as friends. As for me, the guilt will always stay fresh, because there is no way I can turn back time and correct my mistake and embrace her with all my heart, with not a shred of doubt or “How?”

Dear Pavithra, I’m so sorry I couldn’t be a better friend, when I could easily be one. But I am so lucky to have known your love and friendship, as are all your friends. Every time I take a book to read, the bookmark that you gifted me with all your love poured into it as words, would bring a smile and tear to my eyes. And I am glad that even if it was for a short time, Vedu was lucky to have known you too. I will forever keep you alive in her memory as the cool aunty who taught Amma an important lesson – that there are people, very few maybe, in this world who are all good, with not a tinge of bad in them, and trusting people need not always be that hard.

Also published on Medium.