Editor’s note: This column is dedicated to the author’s close friend, Peter Kutyla, a Penn State senior who died on Sunday, Aug. 25.
I came to Penn State an outsider. As a resident of Maryland, most of my friends from high school decided to go to the University of Maryland and so, when I came to Penn State, I didn't know anyone.
A couple of days into the semester, my roommate, Maddie, invited me to hang out with her, her boyfriend Luke, and Luke's friend, Peter. I was nervous. I didn't yet know Maddie well and I was intimidated by the thought of meeting new people. I remember we went to some freshman event in the HUB, and a couple days later our group was formed. We expanded a little, adding Colm and Veesh, two residents of Peter's building, and they remained my core group of friends throughout freshman year.
My freshman year wasn't easy. I was dealing with a lot of physical and mental health problems, some that I hadn't even come to terms with myself. I'll never forget the texts Peter would send me, practically begging me to eat something, or all the times he would come with me to get lunch and dinner. When I would get really anxious and overwhelmed, he would send me pictures of his dog and show me videos of her playing to help me calm down. His dog was so important to him.
I'll always remember when he came with a couple of my friends to watch me swim at a club swim meet and got so excited when I placed in the 200 IM. I'll always remember the jokes he would make when I spaced out and made weird faces. I'll never forget all of the panic attacks I had freshman year and his patience and ability to help me calm down. I'll always be grateful for him reaching out sophomore year when I wasn't able to return to school and his excitement when I came back junior year.
Peter was always there for me and our group of friends. He brought a positive presence into the room, no matter what he was dealing with behind the scenes. He always had a joke to share and a story to tell. He was a good friend, a dependable friend and the best dog owner. I'll miss going to lunch with Peter, trying to rock climb, playing pool and falling asleep while watching movies with him. I miss my friend so much. I wish I could tell him all of this now, to make sure he knew how important he will always be to me and all of our friends.
But most importantly, I hope he's finally found the peace he deserves.