For almost as long as we have been friends I knew that you would likely pass away before me, but it never had sunk in as reality that one day I’d have to say goodbye.

Thalassemia is a pretty rough disease, you’d be fortunate to make it to your teens, it would be a miracle for you to make it to your twenties. But you did. It was a rough road along the way, lots of scares, lots of medical miracles. You seemed invincible. Like it didn’t matter what the doctors ever said the odds were, they didn’t know you. They didn’t know that you were super woman.

But then out of nowhere, you had a freak accident, we’re told to expect the worst, but we know you, we know you’re fighting spirit that always overcame all odds, and so we held onto hope. And that hope carried us through the first of many rough weeks. And then you were gone.

Over the next few days we learned of how much pain you were in from the thalassemia. It eased our pain to know that while you didn’t get the healing we wanted that would have kept you here with us, that ultimately you got a more complete healing in a new glorified body with Jesus. But we are far more selfish than you ever were, and so that easing of pain isn’t even a drop in the bucket of how much we still wish you were here with us.

You were my only friend through many dark seasons. You were my silly friend that could see the world the way I did. I’m not sure I will ever get over the missed chances for one last dinner together. If I had only known that would have been our one last dinner. I never got to say goodbye. But even if I had, it would have been too soon.

It’s always too soon to have to say goodbye to a loved one. Losing a childhood best friend hurts in ways other losses don’t compare. It’s not just a loss of the friend, it’s a loss of all the shared memories. Memories that you held together, but now you are the sole keeper of. It is a lonely but sacred privilege to hold all those memories of our times together.

Today it has been one year since I lost my childhood best friend Katie Klinect. We met under a table at Awanas when we were five and shared not enough sleepovers, grand champion horses, cups of coffee, long talks, and memories. She touched so many lives and one of the sacred comforts in grieving her loss is knowing that I am not alone in my grief. My grief for her is unique, such is everyone’s grief of any loved one, but I have the privilege of knowing that I do not grieve alone.

Grief is a hard thing to bear alone. Everyone goes through it differently, and no one ever fully seems to understand. But grieving alongside others through loved ones, a grief support group, or counseling can make a huge difference in how heavy the weight of grief feels.

This is Katie’s testimony, a life cut short, but not wasted.