Last week, I got news that my friend died. And I will never forget how it felt to have my heart slowly sink like an anchor falling to the bottom of the ocean.
I’ve always struggled with the idea of how others grieve in a time of social media. Because the nature of social media is inherently competitive (who has the most followers, who is having the most fun, who is getting the most likes), I feel like when someone dies it turns into a competition of who is the saddest and who knew the person best. It adds a strange element to grieving- someone’s facebook wall instantly turns into a memorial of dug up photos and lengthy messages. Not to say this is a bad thing at all- death is such a weird thing for the human brain to try to understand; it’s only natural that people might behave in all sorts of strange ways in reaction to death.
I’m writing here because, honestly, it’s all I have been able to think about since hearing the news. I feel guilty because I feel like it’s not my place to talk about someone who I know others knew far better than I did. But she was so strangely intertwined in various parts of my life that I feel like I need to say my piece with it all. So here’s my observation of Miss Madison DeVries:
I met Maddie through my family friend, Kristina. Kristina and I have known each other for at least 15 years, and because of our one year age difference, I’ve always looked at her like a little sister. I met Maddie my sophomore year of college when Kristina introduced me to all of her roommates (they happened to live in the same dorm I did my first year at Carolina). The next year, my friend group decided to pass down our “super suite” dorm room (a fancy dorm room in Morrison residence hall that features a living room- WOWWW) to Kristina and her friend group. We were so excited to know that a place we held so dearly and had so many memories in was going to a group we also knew, loved, and trusted to love the space just as much as we did. Strangely enough, their friend group then lived in the apartment complex I lived in last year. Every year I looked forward to touring Kristina and her friends around my place, showing them the footsteps they could follow in.
I connected with Maddie more individually when we found ourselves on the same Mountain Weekend trip in 2018. Maddie had been brought on the trip by a boy she liked- she knew he liked her back but didn’t quite know where the relationship was going yet. It was adorable to watch all the girls on the trip crowd around her in a room while she gushed and asked for advice on how to ask him about defining the relationship. The boys on the trip sat clueless upstairs while we all giggled and came up with a game plan collectively. I realized as she confided in me that I saw her the same way I had seen Kristina all these years. It felt like I had known her for years- and from what I hear she had that same effect on countless others. I felt strangely protective over her- like she was a little sister I wanted to guide and protect just like Kristina.
So the conversation with the boy that night went well, and I remember the next morning her beaming smile when she told the girls they had decided to start dating. As the year went on, several of us who were dating boys in the same fraternity became good friends. I would soon expect to see Maddie at all of the parties, cocktails and tailgates I was headed to- and I was always greeted with the biggest smile and biggest hug- as was anyone who entered that house. I knew she was someone I could confide in and go to if the night wasn’t going well.
Senior year, my roommate, Stella, started a travel agency. Maddie, always being one to help her friends out, immediately asked Stella if she could help her plan her spring break trip to Europe. Stella had also been on that Mountain weekend trip, and we always gushed about how adorable we thought Maddie was. Throughout the winter I would find Maddie randomly popping by my house to work out the trip with Stella- which was such a pleasant surprise. She would stop by at the most random times- which was never a burden because of all of the good energy she brought in the front door. It didn’t matter how bad my day was going- something about Maddie made me smile while she was here. She had this constant excitement about everything- I remember her peaking in each room in our hallway, complimenting and giddy about something as simple as the decor in each of our bedrooms.
I will not say that Maddie and I were best friends, because we weren’t. But how lucky I was to have known such pure light. I don’t think she is someone I could ever forget- and that is why I have struggled so much to think that I won’t be able to tell her how amazing I thought she was.
However, I know nothing about the spirit world, and she could be looking over my shoulder right now as I type this. So here I’ll say what I wish I could’ve:
I’m listening to Kanye as I write this, because I remember that was a love you and I bonded over. I realized I adored you when I heard you brought a cardboard cutout of him into our super suite, and still remember the look on your face when you walked into my Yeezy themed 21st birthday party. I read that your favorite quote was “the light in me honors the light in you”, which is so strange because the other day I sat down to draw and I ended up drawing you. I’m not sure why, but I wrote “pure light” beside it (completely unaware of your favorite quote), because that is what I think of you and that is what you are – pure light. I wonder if you knew people would think of light when they thought of you. My memory of you will always be happy and giggling, and I hope that’s what you’re doing right now. I hope you’re at peace sweet girl, I’ll always be thinking about you.
Art of the day: This is such a random memory, but I have a distinct visual memory of Maddie on her private snapchat story dancing to and reviewing the album JACKBOYS when it dropped in December. She was so excited about it. I ask that you pick a song off the album and dance by yourself to it without a care in the world for her.
If you have the means, please consider donating to Maddie’s memorial fund: https://www.gofundme.com/f/memorial-fund-for-maddie-devries?utm_source=customer&utm_medium=copy_link-tip&utm_campaign=p_cp+share-sheet&fbclid=IwAR1Uojv-o3JDr9MZHgK8czPU-3GuM602rkrd27hP4mWevuGtIJAMVNYTH1E