To my surprise -- it was a slumber party! I remember the immediate stroke of panic in the back seat of the car as I saw every girl, one by one, come out of the house. I held my present, got out of the back seat, and went for it. Despite my nerves, all of the other girls took to me quickly. There was one in particular, whom I met at this party -- who would change my life forever.
Laura and I connected almost instantly. She thought I was so cool for being a little boy who played with Barbies. And I just loooved her red hair and freckles!
By the time we got to Jr. High School, Laura and I were closer than ever. We started having sleepovers, taking trips together, and sharing life long dreams of moving to Hollywood, California. This friendship was crucial for me at this point in my life. Laura was the first and only person for years, who I began sharing about my feelings and experiences with men.
I mentioned in my last post that being gay at that time was not nearly as main stream as it is today. I grew up in a small town, surrounded by ignorance. I was terrified of what could or would happen to me. Laura provided me with the acceptance, love and encouragement to be who I am. She inspired me creatively. Taught me techniques to perform and to take my passion for acting to another level. We even would have what we called, "Bathroom Singing Hour", where we would lock ourselves in the bathroom and sing to one another at the top of our lungs!
Laura was a catalyst for sexual expression and exploration, she shared things with me that I have still yet to see or re-visit. We could share our authentic selves together, be naked together, laugh together, cry together, and know that no matter what, still love each other profoundly.
We had gone time without talking, with the occasional check in, continuously supporting the other in their life. It wasn't until the Spring of 2011 when we began talking again -- all the time.
I was heading to Disneyland for the first time, one of our childhood dreams, and I had to share it with her. She responded with so much joy and love. It was as if we began our friendship all over again. Catching up with whatever was happening in our lives, talking nearly every day again -- just as if we were living next door to one another. She, in a new relationship with a man who loved her, in the best shape of her life, just got new head shots. I, was beginning to produce and create film and television.
We would constantly reminisce when I would be sitting in a long lecture, or she had a long evening of work. The laughter and Idea's blossomed among us again!
My film screened on November 3rd and was well received! Twelve days later, I woke very early in the morning laughing about a dream I had with Laura in it.
It was 6:00a my time, 9:00a her time. I remember feeling hesitant to send her a message but thought, "no send it now and it will make her whole day!"
So, I rolled over in bed to grab my phone - only to see messages - that nobody wants to read. Facebook posts had been spreading that... Laura had died.
I thought: "Is this TRUE? What happened?!"
I couldn't believe it! I began calling everyone.
Eventually, I got her mother and her boyfriend on the phone. It was now 7:00 in the morning in LA, and I was alone in my apartment. I just found out that one of the most dynamic people to ever have touched my soul has died.
Everyone experiences death in their own way. I have experienced a bit of loss in my life, but NONE as significant as this. It is the worst feeling I ever felt in my life. Pain that is so deep within my soul. It felt like somebody took a scoop of my soul and and replaced it with emptiness. Laura's death triggered something within me. I began feeling numb all over. Lifeless. I instantly fell into "victim mode" and did not want to get out.
I just wanted to sit in my grief, my anger, my sadness. I spent my evenings on my kitchen floor alone, with a bottle of wine -- crying. Hoping that the alcohol could numb my pain away. I began being promiscuous, hoping that the attention from a man would make me feel better. I had fallen into a deep hole and was not interested in coming out. I had stopped loving myself, and I was blaming Laura's death on my own self-sabotage.
I know she would not want me to give up on the dreams, the one's that we shared together, or give up on my life. So I began to practice loving myself. Looking in the mirror every day, giving myself positive reinforcement. February was approaching, and with Valentines being that "holiday" about love, I got inspired.
I decided to launch a campaign called "Love Yourself". Sharing my story with people, and encouraging others to take a moment every day to do something for yourself. Celebrity's such as Mena Suvari, Fairuza Balk, and Justin Willman mentioned my campaign on twitter! I was well received by many of my friends for this campaign. It was so empowering! The "Love Yourself" continues to happen every February!
When one loses someone so close to them, it is important to surround yourself with love. I am very fortunate to have loving and supporting community here in LA. My mother and father were also extremely helpful to me, as well as my half-sister, Ava, whom I have with me in Los Angeles. I began counseling and therapy sessions, which also supported me in my healing. I was able to fly back and be with Laura's mother, see her grave, and even throw a memorial party at my dad's house.
Ava, my half-sister, supported me immensely by encouraging a new healthy life-style. She is a life coach, health adviser, and founder of Body Temple LA, a health and wellness website. She signed me up for my first 5K, to run in honor of Laura. She continues to be a coach for me in many area's of my life. I think with the loss of a loved one, there will always be what my Ava calls, "pockets".
When I first got the news of Laura's death, I fell into a deep pocket of grief. Over-time the pockets become few and far in between. Writing this article was a kind of "pocket", as well. I went and sat on the bathroom floor, sang to Laura, started crying, and then my story was able to come to me. I think there will forever be times in my life when I miss Laura or - hit a pocket. I've accepted that they won't go away, and that's OK, because I realized that Laura really did not go away. Morrie Schwartz said, "Death ends a life not a relationship."
Just as our relationship reshaped throughout our lives, I have started a new relationship with my Best Friend AND Guardian Angel -- Laura.