Forewarning, this is where things take a turn.
It began with a night trip to the city for Alissa’s 22nd Birthday (&Bri’s but she couldn’t make it up to the city). While it was a very short 24 hour visit it was nice to spend time with Will, Megan, and Alissa; not to mention see a handful of other friends!
I then had an extremely stressful week with three exams AND the career fair.
Preparing ahead and staying focused I made it through. Not to mention I had a special guest visiting that weekend to give me something to look forward too.
Will arrived on Friday.
Exhausted from studying and no sleep, we stayed in and watched a movie. Saturday consisted of the farmers market (where he bought me a sunflower- my favorite!), pumpkin patch (finding the perfect pumpkins and indulging on apple cider donuts) and Black Dog (most delicious ribs ever)!
10.16.2015 marked 16 years since my dad passed away.
Amy had the day off and decided to drive down so we could drink beer and make homemade pizza together in his honor. I can honestly say it was the first year I felt completely at peace. While the sadness will never go away, it was the first year I was filled with more joy than hurt. He was such an amazing man, knowing him for just six years still makes me luckier than anyone who never had the opportunity to meet him at all.
10.22.2015 is where things turned on me.
I was sitting at the Law Library studying physics, when I received a text from Will to check Marissa’s Facebook. Let me give you some back-story here. Marissa is incredibly fit and attractive. It’s not difficult for this girl to get 150+ likes on a photo. Not only that, but she is one of the most genuine, kind people you were ever meet. So I was expecting to see some fitness post about her doing another fitness competition or something. But it wasn’t. In that moment… I froze as I read Marissa’s words:
“Heroin took my best friend in the whole wide world away from me this afternoon. My brother is finally at peace in heaven, and set free. Twenty years we spent together wasn’t long enough. RIP Mitchell, I hope I can learn to love how you loved me.. It was truly unconditional.”
I remember sitting there for a couple of minutes as my mind raced. I knew Mitch had struggled for years, but we all thought he had gotten things finally on track. He was going to college, getting good grades, working out and was in the best shape of his life. We had finally been able to reconnect and grow closer again. We were texting, snapchatting, hanging out and were closer than ever. And just like that. Sitting alone in the Law Library, I felt my entire world shift.
I ran out of the library and called everyone I knew on campus. There was no way I could walk or bus home to an empty apartment.
*Huge shoutout to Ryan Carr for rushing to my help and spending his evening with me until I was calm enough to be alone*
It was a Thursday that Mitch died.
Friday was the beginning of Homecoming Weekend.
I was going to have Will, Megan, Paige, Alex, Bri and Ally staying with me. After struggling being alone the past couple of months I was looking forward to this weekend more than anything in the world. All my best friends under my roof again. Except now I felt like there was a big, black hole in my chest. Their texts came flooding in as they said their condolences and they could stay somewhere else to give me privacy, but I knew them being close to me was best. They helped give me a fantastic weekend full of laughter, tears, reminiscing on old memories, and shots dedicated to Mitch. Truly a great weekend.
But then Sunday came. And everyone left. Leaving me alone to actually process what had just happened. And honestly, for the next week and a half I turned into a zombie. Like the life had been completely sucked out of me. It took all my energy to get off the couch or out of bed. That Monday I skipped all my classes, but couldn’t miss Tuesdays. I remember sitting in my discussion, looking down at these stupid math problems and they all started to blur together. People were continuing on with their lives because nothing had gone wrong for them, while mine had turned upside down. I didn’t know how to communicate with people. Everyone starts with “Hey! How are you?”. All I could think of was “I have clean clothes on and I’m out of the house”, but responded with a “Good, you?” just to end our conversations sooner, even though it was a lie.
We had the service on October 30th. By this time things had gotten slightly easier. Will told me he would be there without me even asking and Megan came to show her love and support. Beyond happy they came. The service was in the morning. Me, Amy (sister), Kevin and Carly (cousins) presented the gifts. Our cousin Rob gave a great eulogy. Then there was a party/gathering at the Autry’s house after everything where Me and Marissa became instant partners in crime. Reminiscing on crazy Mitch’s life and doing our best to be silly, keep ourselves together, and drink. lots. Because we knew that’s what Mitch would have done lol. Despite the occasion, it was nice having all the Caponigro cousins under one roof. We took time to catch up on each others lives and realized how out of touch with one another we had become. And how Mitch had managed to stay in contact with all of us. We then collectively agreed to stay in each others lives, keep showing love and be there for one another. Just as Mitch had done individually with all of us.
Towards the end of the evening me and Marissa needed to get some space so we went upstairs to her room. *Backstory* my Mother bought me a necklace that says “Love you more” on it because it’s something my dad used to always say to me and my sister. Now for the past few weeks, I couldn’t find it. Anywhere. I had torn my apartment apart, my car, had friends check their places, this necklace was NOWHERE. So, me and Marissa come upstairs and what do I see draped out of my purse (that I use ALL the time and had checked four times), but the necklace itself. Goosebumps ran up my arm as I felt Mitch’s presence. There’s no way that necklace appeared there, in the way that it was placed, without his doing.
We all knew Mitch loved us unconditionally. We all knew what a trouble maker he was. So to get a little crazy, me and Marissa decided to try on Will’s suit, because let’s face it, the man is a giant. It was just the laugh we needed. Enjoy the photo below lol.
I still haven’t deleted Mitch on Snapchat or deleted our last text conversation from my phone. I try to remember he’s with my dad and our grandparents now, which is definitely something I’m envious of; cuz if those four are together, you know there’s sarcasm, lots of laugher and great food. If there’s food in heaven… lol
So if you noticed, yeah, Halloween was the day after Mitch’s service. So me and Marissa decided to just be together, be low key at a party and have a little fun to get our minds off things. There was a guy dressed EXACTLY like Captain Jack Sparrow- hammered drunk, eyeliner, nail polish and slurred words and all.
I then returned back to Urbana to get my head back into school mode. Dreading the amount of work I would have to do in order to catch up on my studies.
This chapter taught me a lot.
I’ve lost a lot of people near and dear to me throughout my life, but none so powerful as Mitch’s. I’ve seen death’s cause rifts in families and tear them apart, but I got to see Mitch’s bring people together. Being there for one another, reaching out to keep in contact with people is so important. Even a simple “Hey, I’m thinking about you and hope you’re well”. Everyone is going through their own struggles every single day. No one is perfect, despite what they want you to think on Instagram. So showing others that you’re there for them for support and love them, can be extremely powerful. Mitch continued to do it and I wish that he felt comfortable enough with others to be open about his disease. Because that’s what drug addiction is, an extremely powerful disease. So many people feel ostracized by their addiction that they try to hide it, which will cause it to never go away. I just hope people start to recognize this. We’re all human. None of us are perfect. If we all stopped judging one another, started showing more love, acceptance and kindness.. who knows. We just live too short of lives and never know what tomorrow will bring. All the judging, hatred, grudges… it’s just not worth it. Losing Mitch changed me, but for the better. My point to all of this, is I hope his death can have an effect on you too.
I also would love if you guys checked out this short video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ao8L-0nSYzg
Found it interesting, it definitely opened my eyes and changed my perspective.