Something you’ve taught me

Four years ago, life was really testing me. In the midst of a terminal cancer diagnosis in my family, Zafer died from a heroin overdose. My first love – first everything. I believe that every encounter you have is an energy exchange. That you touch each single other being you come in contact with. There are many forms. Both small and large. In a deeper way, our inner circles directly mold and shape who we are. Whether that be your human side – the ego. Or the being side – who you actually are. One of the most joyous parts of moving through loss for me has been recognizing the ways in which Zafer prepared me for my present life and self.

He was ahead of his time with how he could see the big picture of our relationship. Even when we went through our most fiery times, he would always remind me that our love and shared time together was “bigger” than what was happening right then. That above all the pain and transition, we had intertwined our lives. We are representations of one another because we grew together from 2008 to his death in 2016. My growth is now without him here physically – but is still derived directly from him. How fucking beautiful.


I see Zafer as an extension of myself. Like a tree or the inside of a lung. I am the trunk but everyone I have ever touched or who has touched me are the branches, stems, and leaves. I am the primary bronchi and he is one of my bronchioles. Are you with me?

Once you look at every interaction in this way, the break-up or the arguments seem trivial because you are valuing what was brought to you in the first place. Sometimes it’s a lesson and ends in deep heartache. But in whatever way you see it and whatever relationship it may be – you shared time and energy with someone. You have shaped one another.

Now zoom out and look at it in the form of a cashier at the grocery store. Waving at someone walking by. Even a comment. It is all an energy exchange and is a part of your tree or breath. Limitless and never-ending even after death. 

These interactions and relationships form your entire life. How you see the world, how to react to what’s happening, and how you form future connections. I thank Zafer for showing me that even though we “broke up” before college that didn’t mean anything for us. That he valued me and our friendship in whatever form it was taking place. That our bond would reach far beyond the societal status of being boyfriend/girlfriend. And it did. We continued speaking while in college, visited on breaks, and always had a deep mutual understanding and respect. It has helped me approach my relationships in my present life. I’m less conditional and a better friend, partner, and person for it.

Try and think about the people you’re closest to but also even people who have “hurt” you. What ways have they shaped you? What of your lingo is actually from them? What are lessons you’ve learned together? What have you taught one another? What parts of yourself, mindsets, and behaviors would be missing if you never crossed paths? What if they died?

I have been reflecting heavily on what he taught me with his time on Earth. It makes me feel close to him. Beyond this, he is one of the most logistical, creative, particular, hilarious, and loving people. I miss his physical presence deeply.

I look at myself now… I’m an associate director for his mother’s nonprofit and a bartender for his father’s distillery. Sometimes, I even work for his brother selling hemp clothing. I have a second family that I’m able to love and grieve with, forever. They are reminders of him for me and I am for them. I have a special situation because Zafer opened me to see an expanded view of what could be in this life.



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