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The Best of Friends
Tanner was my best friend. He was like the big brother I never had. I always thought of him to be one of the luckiest persons I ever met. He seemed like he always had everything: great family, nice home, and as a child anything he ever wanted. We would do everything together and so much more. I first met Tanner when I was six years old and he was seven. We met at church where my mother and his parents were both going to. Because our parents were already so close and set by each other at every Sunday morning worships, we were kind of stuck with each other. At first, we didn’t get along. Tanner would love to pull on my hair and make me cry, eventually I learned to fight back with a pinch to his stomach that would get him to stop or if it was hard enough, make him cry also. Soon we grew out of it and started coming to each other for all the advice we could ever need. He was everything to me and so much more.
Growing up we started our new middle school together. It was Marshall middle school and boy was I scared. Going to Marshall meant starting all over. I had to meet new friends, learn a new building, and become acclimated to my new surroundings. I may have been uptight and worried, but for Tanner it was a total different story. He was so chill about it, no worries or anything. I remember calling him the day before our first day at Marshall to ask if he was just as scared as I was and him telling me “You know I got you, were in this together and that its gonna be ok so get a good sleep and come tomorrow prepared to be amazed at how you were worried for nothing.” Tanner was definitely right because that year I had became a cheerleader and a starter for the girls’ volleyball team. I learn to function without the constant reassurance from Tanner, but we always had each other’s back, him more than me but nonetheless the same. We were each other’s ying and yang, and we could never be broken.
Our parents use to always make fun that we would grow up and marry one another, but we always laughed it off because we both knew that would never happen. We never saw each other in that kind of manner but our parents were destined to make something happen. It was freshman year in high school and obviously a lot had changed because now Tanner and I had less time for each other. Either he was always gone out with his football buddies or on a date with one of his girlfriends, or I was doing my own thing. It was once, I was at his house on the weekend and he was just coming home from his date very upset. Of course, we talked about it and came to a valid conclusion that he was in the wrong like any guy, but our parents must have saw this as their opportunity because after, they began instigating every opportunity they had. Tanner and I could never be alone together without one of our parents telling us how cute we were together or how we needed to stop lying to ourselves and just get together already. In actuality, we were each others reason for why we could never have lasting relationships. It was either his girl would get jealous that me and him were so close or my boyfriend would think something more was happening between us two. We would even try to prove our innocence by going out on double dates to show our significant others that nothing was happening, but this plan always backfired only making things a lot worse for the both of us. Nevertheless, it never bothered us and we continued to be close as ever.
It was summer before sophomore year, and Tanner and I were back to being close than ever. We spent almost every weekend together doing anything that could keep us from being bored or killing one another. The summer went by quickly, and we knew it was soon coming to an end because we were both back at school practicing for our seasons. On the first day, I remember my mom dropping us off at school and Tanner and I going our separate ways: him with his group of friends and me with mine. I knew I wouldn’t see him again that day unless we had lunch together, but even then we wouldn’t have much to say to each other. No, we didn’t have lunch together but surprisingly we did have a class together. It was sixth period B.C.I.S. and this came as a complete shock. Not once had we ever had a class together, so this was definitely going to be different. I always knew Tanner was smart, but I never knew how smart he really was. This was a class about computers and Tanner just whizzed right through the course. I could never understand how if we both were always talking, how he could get done with his work so quickly and keep a higher grade than me? This would be a mystery that I would never solve.
Sophomore year was also the year we both became more interested in each others extracurricular activities. We would try to go to each other’s games to show our support. Tanner showed the best support though, sometimes maybe too much. It was our last game against our rival school, Lincoln High, and Tanner was there sitting front and center. I’m not sure if he knew a lot about volleyball and its rules but it didn’t take a genius to know that the referee was calling a bad game. While playing the game, it amazed me how he chastised the referee so much causing his self to be put out the game. If this had been my parent, I probably would have been embarrassed but for this to be Tanner, I thought it to be very funny but loving. Whenever I went to his games, I made sure to always wear my custom airbrush shirt that had his name and number on it or if it was a home game his visitor jersey. Of course, once again people jumped to the conclusion that we were going together because it was tradition for girlfriends to wear visitor football jerseys to the game, but like always this still wasn’t true.
We continued our year together and it was coming close to the end that things started going south for Tanner. This was during the time his parents had filed for a divorce. The year had just become hard for him. For Tanner, having both his parents together was something that he loved. When we were little, Tanner would joke all the time how his parents were still together and mine were not, making me jealous. For this to happen, meant his whole world crashing down. I tried my best to help as much as I could but I knew there wasn’t much I could do. After this, Tanner’s attitude totally flipped. He was now coming to school very glum and reserved. In class we would barely talk. Whenever I did try to converse with him, he would only answer me with one word or body language. Tanner finished the school year like this and it really hurt me to know that there was nothing I could do or say to make my closest friend feel better. It made me feel that I had failed as his friend because I knew if the situation was in my favor; Tanner would know exactly what to say to make me feel better. It would be awhile before Tanner learn to deal with the situation.
Because of his parent’s divorce and his quick change of attitude, his parents had put him in counseling for help. For Tanner, counseling was doing the trick because eventually he was back to his same self and no longer needed counseling anymore. I knew Tanner was only hiding his real pain but I didn’t see any reason to keep bringing up a bad situation. It wasn’t until late in the summer that he started to come back around as his same self and I was glad to have my friend back. Tanner was now living with just his mother in their same house and would visit with his father on the weekends. On Sundays at church it was surreal to see his mother and father no longer sitting together.
Tanner learned to deal as best as he could and we were both back to doing the same thing: nothing at all. It was still summer and everything was at rest. We continued to chill and watch television like always. We were becoming so bored with ourselves that we would even try to make up corny little games to play so that the day could go faster. Tanner’s summer got a lot better because before the end of July his mother and him were going on a cruise to Mexico for a week. For a full week I was left by myself. I was so bored and it made me so appreciative of having Tanner with me. I never took Tanner for granted but not having him only helped to show me how much I really missed my friend. I would want to call him everyday just to see what he was doing, to live within his moment but I never would. I didn’t want to call complaining while he was on vacation because that would be rude and ruin his time. Tanner and his mother were back by the following next Monday. I couldn’t wait to see him and what he had brought back. To my surprise, Tanner had been through an accident on the ship causing him to be on crutches for six months. Although I was so happy he was back, Tanner was depressed. He was on high doses of medication keeping him from being active, leaving him to sleep all day. The medication was to help stop the pain he was feeling in his leg and without the medicine; Tanner was very grumpy and agitated. He was no longer fun to be around or even tempting enough to be bored with anymore. I stopped hanging with Tanner while he was still hurt from his accident. It seemed like forever because we were now back in school for junior year and he was still on crutches.
At school I got to talk to Tanner more. He still seemed agitated but now it was a lot worse. I hadn’t realized that because he was on crutches that this year he wouldn’t be playing football. This was very upsetting for Tanner because this was the year he wanted to prove to his coaches how good he was to move up to the varsity level. He just knew this would be the year that everything he wanted out of high school would come to him but for now it would have to wait. The times I did talk to Tanner were very awkward and silent. It was as though he was slowly dying, not caring anymore and couldn’t see anything good in his life.
It was September 22, 2000, the day of our biggest football game against our rival high school. I came to school like normally with my school colors on showing all the spirit I could. It was second period that I had realized I hadn’t seen Tanner all morning. Usually before getting to my class, I would see Tanner coming off the elevator but today was different but I thought nothing of it. It was still the beginning of second period even before announcements came on that I was being called to the counselor’s office. I was so happy to get the pass because I thought I would be out of class the whole hour and who wouldn’t like that. Entering the counselor’s office, I could tell something was wrong because there were more than one inside the cramped office and I could also see it in their expressions in how they approached me. I sat down waiting for the news. My counselor started, “To be honest we have terrible news and it’ll just be easier to let you know instead of going around the situation. This morning Tanner was found in his room dead. Though we are not sure of how he did it because that information wasn’t given to us, it was suicide.” As I heard this, all I could think was that this couldn’t be true. But when I heard the word suicide, I started crying. The counselor’s tried their best to console me but it was pointless because nothing they could do could help me at the time. I decided to go back to class because I needed to be around people that were uplifting and supportive but by the time I came back to class the announcement had been made about Tanner and walking through the door only made it worse because all attention was on me. Everybody knew how close Tanner and I were and knew this would be very upsetting for me. Throughout the day many people were crying and attitudes were not as high. It was still the night of our biggest game and it was decided through the school that the game would be dedicated him. That night I still went to the game but it was no help it only made me think of how the only reasons I came to the football games were to support Tanner.
Tanner’s mother was taking it even harder. He was her only child and basically all she had left in her life. After her divorce, she had never remarried and never intended to either because she was content with it just being her and Tanner. She scheduled his funeral to be that Thursday morning, a week after the tragic incident. All of our classmates were invited to the ceremony but for the burial it was asked that only close friends and family were to come. At the funeral, my mother and I sat in the front with his mother and father. This was the first time in a long time I had seen them together. There were a lot of students from our high school there. Tanner was a very popular person because some were people I hadn’t even known existed, let alone even much went to the same school as I did. For the start of the service, a prayer was said and next a letter was to be read. This was a letter that Tanner had written just before he killed himself. His mother had direct orders for this letter to be read for the first time for anyone to hear at his funeral. In the letter Tanner talked a lot about the love he had for his parents and how he really felt about their divorce. For a moment his mother had to step out. Before the letter was done, my mother and I were mentioned. Tanner had written he was very sorry to leave me and that he wished our last days were to be better. I sat there listening and couldn’t help but to cry and think of all our memories together. Tanner and I had come a long way together and it just hurt more to know that we could never make anymore memories together. After the reading of the letter the funeral was continued with more prayer and praise. After the funeral, I did not go to the burial. Just seeing the open casket at the funeral I knew I wouldn’t be able to take seeing them lower him to the ground.
I didn’t go to school the next day because I knew I wasn’t ready. For the weekend I stayed home looking at all our old pictures that I had of us together. I couldn’t help but to still cry and scream out. This weekend was hard for me but it also helped me. I had to realize there was nothing I could do to bring Tanner back and that eventually I could no longer cry for him because he was never coming back. While going through my room I found his visitor football jersey. It was still primped and I couldn’t help but to hold it as if it were Tanner in my hands. That Monday going back to school I wore Tanner’s jersey. It was statement to him to show that he would always be loved and missed greatly.
School was not the same for me anymore. I had to learn to take everyday one day at a time or else I would become overwhelmed. I came into many close encounters where not having Tanner made me think of him and would make me tear up. The hardest day for me was when it was his birthday. He was to turn seventeen and we had planned to take a trip to San Antonio to face our fears at Fiesta Texas theme park on skyscraping rollercoasters. In his memory, I still went. I rode on the highest rollercoaster by myself but before it started I said to the sky, "This is for you Tanner, Happy Birthday!” Truly I knew I could never be the same after losing my best friend but I learn to deal always keeping him in my prayers and in my heart.