At fifteen my soul had yet to be fully formed. Teens push boundaries so that they can decide where their own are. We try out different skins to see which fit best. When I was fifteen, my Dad died, with no warning. Grief rips us in two no matter what age it happens, but when it happens to a teenager, it embeds into their very nature. I wasn't yet my authentic self, until I was forced to grow into it during grief. My authentic self has been shaped by loss.
There is a strength and loss of naivety when the very worst thing happens to you. You realise that terrible things don't only happen to others, we are the others. Anything terrible could happen, and life will just continue to plod forward, regardless of whether you feel ready for it.
The strength comes when you realise you survived it. Your heart shattered but you somehow sticky taped it back together again. The gaping hole becomes a scar rather than a flesh wound. You survived the worst and you're ok. It always becomes ok again. That's how life works.
Ironically, I regret how crap I have been when friends have lost parents. I lost my Dad so long ago (18 years ago now, a whole adult worth!), and I talk about him all the time. He isn't a raw memory for me, yet when I hear of my loved ones entering that dark yet well-trodden path of grief I'm scared for myself. It feels so selfish and something I've been working on. Yet I don't want to stare grief in the face again.
I used to cling to grief, as a way of keeping my Dad alive. I hated those first moments of happiness, as it meant he was fading away from me, becoming less real. That ache in my chest meant I still felt him. Time replaces the ache eventually, and I remember him now by carrying his love with me, holding onto the traits he gave me, and feeling grateful that I had him at all.