One new text message and life is suddenly different. The alert for this new message didn’t sound any different than an alert for a normal message that might read, “Hey, what’s up?” or “What are you wearing tomorrow?”

But this message was different, and it certainly wasn’t about my plans or what the weather was like.

News of a loved one’s death hits you like a ton of bricks. It’s not just a saying. Your mouth literally falls open and your hand has to cover it to stop yourself from drooling, or maybe just to remind yourself to force the air in. It’s a tingly rush of adrenaline, but not the kind that spreads excitement through your veins.

It’s the kind of adrenaline where your mind and your body can’t quite communicate to figure out how to react.

Shock. Your heart really does beat faster. Your body really does shake. And it really does hurt.

Today is 9/11, a day of mourning for our country. A day of remembrance of a tragedy that happened 10 years ago today.

It’s also a day when my boyfriend and I heard that a college friend tragically passed away.

Events like this make Sjӧgren’s seem so insignificant. It is a blessing to be alive, regardless of the obstacles that I face, and I hope that I never take that for granted.

Despite my dry eyes, I am still able to produce enough tears to cry.

Rest in peace, Kenny.