Lauren Reilly/The Mirror

All it took was a simple friend request.

One of the first things many high school students do when they get accepted to the college of their choice is join that college’s Facebook group for incoming freshmen.

One of the staples of these groups is the “survey discussions” that inevitably end up becoming the group’s most popular and helpful resource. Facebook allows strangers to post their interests and personal habits in an online forum that is available for all of the group’s members to see.

These surveys predictably create barrages of friend requests and allow groups of strangers to slowly develop into a class community without even setting foot on campus.

It is through one of these surveys that I met Julia Sill. From the second that I had accepted her friend request, I knew I had found my first friend at Fairfield.

Accepting Julia’s request seemed typical enough. I had posted a “roommate survey” in one of the group’s threads and in the days following I had received a few friend requests and sent a few of my own.

The very first thing I noticed about Julia was her profile picture. It portrayed a beautiful girl in a backwards L.A. Dodgers ball cap with a smile that was immediately contagious.

I did a little more digging and found her roommate survey on the group thread. I eagerly read through it and found out that she was a night owl, loved the television show “Summer Heights High,” worked as a lifeguard, loved “The Catcher in the Rye,” and that she was extremely outgoing and excited for the college experience.

I didn’t need to read more, I immediately Facebook messaged her. We ended up Facebook messaging all night and I remember sitting in my room laughing hysterically at every message I received from her. After hours and hours of talking we decided that night that we wanted to be roommates.

We didn’t care that Fairfield had a random rooming assignment policy for freshmen; we vowed that we would make it happen. The next few months and our eventual real-life meeting at orientation only solidified our rooming decision and strengthened our friendship.

We talked on the phone, messaged on Facebook, skyped, texted; all of the above. Even before I met her in person, we acted like we had known each other our entire lives. I was going to a school a thousand miles away from my home in Florida to a place where I knew absolutely no one but Julia, coming even further from her home in the Golden State, was my comfort blanket and I was excited to start the year with her by my side.

Not only did Julia and I pull off rooming together, but we also managed to find a third roommate, Nicole Stark ‘13. We were a little wary about the idea of a triple but as soon as we all met we knew that it was meant to be.

The year had its ups and downs, but ultimately the three of us became like a family. Gonzaga 337 was a huge room but it barely contained our three very expressive personalities.

Nicole and I are on the soccer team and let’s just say that our early morning practices and Julia’s night owl schedule didn’t exactly always mesh.  It would not be uncommon for Nicole and I to wake up

at 5am for practice only to find Julia casually strolling into the room from a late night out.

She would laugh at the fact that we were getting out of bed when she was getting in it and usually replied with a typical, sarcastic Julia remark like “sucks to suck” before passing out. Though our schedules and lifestyles were different and we fought and annoyed each other to no end, at the end of the day we shared a sisterly bond that would prove to be indestructible.

How can I describe Julia? The truth is that no one can, at least not in simple words that would do her justice. Her sarcastic wit, her clever comebacks, her unique nicknames and abbreviations, her California swag, her mischievous smile, her heart of gold, her carefree, outgoing attitude, Julia lit up every room she walked into.

She would call you out on anything, she worked hard but played the hardest, she had a way with words and had comedic timing that could make the stars of SNL jealous.

I have never in my life seen someone make friends as fast as Julia. Her hilarious nature and her habit of speaking her mind at all times made her someone that you just couldn’t help but to be drawn to. She was the girl who could be the crazy life of the party one-minute and then be the one holding your hair back after a rough night.

She had a complexity to her that made her so real and genuine and she was someone who truly would do anything for one of her friends. To quote one of her favorite books, “The Great Gatsby,” Julia had “one of those rare smiles with a quality of eternal reassurance in it, that you may come across four or five times in life. It understood you just as far as you wanted to be understood, believed in you as you would like to believe in yourself.”

Besides all the memories and crazy stories and hysterical nicknames that Julia has left me with, the thing I am most grateful for is the people she introduced into my life. At first glance, I am not particularly outgoing. I tend to build friendships slowly and carefully, and in this respect Julia and I could not be more different.

She had this uncanny ability to attract friends in every class she took and every party she attended. Not only did she make friends fast, but she also had a way transforming these new friendships into meaningful, lasting relationships with effortless ease.

I had the good fortune of watching many of these relationships form and as I would listen to Julia talk in our room about this amazing girl in her glee club or this hilarious boy in her math class, I would be jealous of how easy it was for her to be loved almost instantly.

Throughout my first three semesters at Fairfield, Julia introduced me to more people than I can even attempt to count. Eventually many of these people became my friends and they continue to improve my life every single day.

I don’t know if I want to know the person I might be right now if I had never met Julia. She taught me how to come out of my comfort zone, how to break out of my shell and revel in spontaneity.

She taught me how to be myself despite my insecurities and she taught me how to live life every day with laughter and enthusiasm. Like she was to many, Julia was a godsend to me and I will always be grateful for the time I spent with her.

While she left us far too soon, she left a lasting impact on all those she left behind. In her own way, which was the only way she did things anyway, Julia Ryder Sill taught us all how to stay forever young.

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