On July 10th, 2013 my best friend was in a single car accident that took her life at the age of 20. It has been about a year and four months since Janae Moore left us, and still so many hearts are broken. Janae Moore was such an outstanding human being. She worked hard in the classroom and on the court. Janae played basketball at Dickinson State University after high school. She was in the honors program and was always volunteering her time. When she was not at school or practice, you could usually find Janae with her friends and family. She loved to laugh and oh my gosh was her laugh one you would never forget. I’ve heard Janae’s laugh be called many different things such as boisterous, cackle, roar, and howl, but one word I would use to describe it is, infectious. Janae was a very determined and goal-oriented person. She was very competitive and never backed down. She was humble and gracious. She was the type of girl everyone loved. Janae was not just my best friend, I considered her my sister, my hero, and my partner in crime. The day Janae passed away my life changed forever. My best friend was gone and there was absolutely nothing I could do to get her back.
Janae has taught me a lot in the last 16 months. Here are a few of the ones that I think are most important.
1. I had to accept what had happened.
I didn’t want to believe what had happened, I knew I couldn’t live without my best friend. I wanted her back, and I thought that if I tried hard enough that maybe I could bring her back. I had to learn to accept what had happened, only then could I really start my grieving process.
The basketball team putting flowers on Janae’s crash site.
2. Planning your best friend’s funeral doesn’t have to be all sad.
Planning a funeral can be hard. There can be arguments between family members and between friends. It is much easier to make funeral a celebration of that person’s life, and that’s exactly what we did.
The one thing Janae truly loved to do was to play basketball, and our high school team was very close. We all got together and made a PowerPoint with the many many pictures we all had of Janae, with some of her favorite music to go along. We all decided that we could not wear black to Janae’s funeral, she never would have allowed that, so we all wore matching t-shirts, Jordan shorts, and bandanas, a few of Janae’s favorite things. We came up with a plan that when they brought the casket into the funeral, Janae would be announced just like she was at a basketball game, one last time. Right before the casket was going to be wheeled down the aisle, the Chicago Bulls theme song started to play, and Janae was announced, “STANDING AT 5 FEET 10 INCHES TALL, #34 FOR THE EAGLES AND #30 FOR THE BLUEHAWKS, FOR THE LAST TIME ON HER HOME COURT, JAANNNNNAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAEEEEE MOOOOOOOOOOORRRRRRRRREE!” It gave the crowd goose bumps, and I couldn’t help but smile at that moment because I knew Janae wouldn’t have had it any other way.
Janae fighting for the ball.
3. Getting professional help does not mean you have failed.
Going through something so traumatic can really take a toll on someone. I thought that I was psychotic and crazy if I needed professional help, so I refused it at every turn. Talking to someone about what you are going through can be very helpful; however, I will say that you have to find the right psychiatrist. You need to have a connection with someone before you trust them with your feelings, so try a few different people out and make sure you are comfortable.
Janae and her precious niece, Ainsleigh.
4. It never helps to dwell on things someone didn’t get to experience. Smile about the things they did experience.
I could sit and cry for hours about the things that Janae never got to experience: her 21st birthday, her wedding, having kids. The list goes on and on. All thinking about these things does is hurt you even more. Instead, talk about the things they did get to experience. Talk about things they accomplished, people they met, places they got to go, the memories they made.
Janae taking in the scenery at one favorite places, Rock Creek.
5. Live your life, don’t just be along for the ride.
Don’t hold grudges. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Don’t fret over finances. Do the things you want to do. Take every opportunity. Travel if you want to travel. Smile as often as you can, and spend time with the people you love. Your life could be done at any moment, so don’t waste any more time.
One of my favorite quotes is from a Rom-Com Janae and I loved to watch, Cinderella Story. “Never let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game.” You have to cease opportunities even if you are scared. People don’t like change because it is scary, but change is usually for the better if we would just take a chance on it.
6. Everyone deals with grief differently, and one way is not necessarily better than any other.
A few months after Janae passed it seemed like everyone had moved on with their lives. I felt like everyone had forgotten about Janae, and I was upset. I thought that maybe I should be okay too, when I clearly was not. Everyone grieves differently and everyone takes a different amount of time to grieve. Some people need some space and time to think, while others don’t want to be left alone. Some people won’t eat or sleep for days, while others will want to fill the whole in their heart with food and loads of sleep. Don’t let anyone tell you when you should be okay, or how you should be dealing with the grieving process. Find what ever is comfortable for you and do that.
I found comfort in my family and friends, but they can’t be there every second of every bad day. That’s why I bought my own journal and started writing about my feelings. Getting everything out and down on paper helped me sort through my feelings. I was also very scared that I was going to forget all of the fun memories I had with my best friend, so writing down all the memories I could think of made me feel more comfortable.
Janae and her best friend from college, Dawne.
7. Daily reminders can be difficult at first, but they make you smile instead of cry after awhile.
There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think of Janae, and I’m positive it will be like that for the rest of my life. I spent so much time with Janae that there are so many different things that remind me of her. Whether it be a song, a movie, something someone says, or the “shrine” of pictures I have of her in my room, there is something that strikes up Janae in my head every single day, and I love that now. Some days I smile because I knew her, and other days I cry because I miss her, either way, the crying days got to be less and less over time. I’m not going to lie to you, losing someone that close to you so young truly feels like you got stabbed in the heart for about the first year or so. It’s not easy, but I promise you it gets better. You learn to stop crying because it’s over and start smiling because it happened, and though that pain of knowing my best friend is gone will never go away for good, the joy of having spent my youth growing up with such an amazing human being is much stronger now.
Janae and her good friend Colten.
8. I had to get over my fears, and stick up for myself.
Janae always had my back. When someone said something mean to me behind my back or face to face, Janae was always the first one to pipe up and stick up for me. Let’s just say she usually won the argument too. I have always been a “people pleaser.” I don’t like confrontation, and I don’t like upsetting anyone. I put other people’s wants and needs far ahead of my own. This quality can seem like a good one sometimes, but it really tears down your self confidence and your self worth. After Janae passed I knew I would have to start sticking up for myself, and making myself happy instead of others sometimes. Janae taught me to love myself for who I am and not care about what other people thought. I know that all sounds cliche, but it’s true.
Janae and her roommates at Dickinson.
9.I had to get better at keeping in contact with friends and family.
Janae was always getting on me about keeping in touch because I’m terrible at it. All of my friends will tell you that I am not very timely with texting them back. I knew I had to start making an effort to change this bad habit. This is one thing I am still working on. I try to make time to call or text my friends when I feel like ‘it’s been awhile.’ This I had to do not only for myself, but for others as well. I know there are a lot of people out there that are still grieving for Janae. I want to keep in touch with the people close to me. I want to do a better job of calling all of Janae’s family and friends just to let them know I’m thinking about them because I really am always thinking about them. Life is very busy, we all know that, but we have to make time for the important things and people in our lives. It’s always nice to know that you have someone to talk to just in case.
Janae with her three siblings Jozi, Josh, and Jennifer.
10. I learned that in life you GET to make choices.
One big thing I learned is that you can choose to turn a bad day around. Just because a day started off badly doesn’t mean it has to be that way all day. Sometimes just putting a smile on your face will put you in a better mood. During my grieving process, I had to make the choice between staying home and crying all day and getting outside and enjoying my life. For a long time I chose to stay home and cry, but after awhile I realized how foolish I was being. I wanted to live my life and being cooped up at home was not going to help. You have to make choices every single day. Try your hardest to always make the choice to be happy. Life is too short to be mad all the time.
Janae, in her Elf costume of course, with her parents on Christmas.
11. I have the best friend in the entire world, and not one can tell me I’m wrong because for once, I know I’m right.
Janae was one of those friends that did everything right. Janae was the one person who knew more about me than I knew about myself. She was ALWAYS there for me, and she was always teaching me. I was never EVER bored when I was with her. Most importantly, she never lied to me. This meant that Janae always told the truth, whether or not it was going to hurt my feelings. She didn’t believe in dancing around things. She was very blunt and got straight to the point. There were times I wasn’t so happy with the things she told me, but I respected her opinion above anyone else’s. She was blunt, but she also had the kindest heart. She wanted to see everyone around her succeed. She pushed people beyond what they thought they could do. She knew this was the only way to improve. Janae was a life-long friend that I will forever miss. I know she will be with me at every point in my life forever and ever. Which leads to my final point.
Janae and myself during one of the last times we got to see each other.
12. I learned that Janae is not truly “gone.”
Janae will always be remembered through her family, friends, and community. She will live on through the things she accomplished and the people she knew. I know I will see Janae again, and I know that she will never really have left me. She will always be by my side just like she promised she would be. I love you forever and always Jan <3.
I made this Flipagram a few months ago on Janae’s 22nd birthday. Alive by Krewella was one of Janae’s favorite songs, and she loved to sing it loud and proud. Hope you enjoy!