I lost someone I cared about yesterday.
My phone showed the voicemail was left last night. November 12, 2012 at 10:27:49 P.M. It took 33 courageous seconds for her to say what I instinctually knew: Our friend had passed.
This morning, at 5:33 A.M., I listened anyway. Then listened again, and sent a text.
And the day after began.
While I tried to go about my day’s business, this never really strayed far from my mind. Not so much for the departed, as much as for friends and family left behind. I don’t know the specifics, but if it was her intention to end her own life, I do know it was not her first attempt. I also know the people who had reached out to lend a helping hand are strewn about on a long, winding and weary road. Those in her wake are left to wrestle with many unanswered questions.
There is no way to candy coat it; suicide sucks.
This evening I went through every text I had with my friend, from May 4th through July 29th 2011. I was shocked to see how much time had passed since our regular communications had ended. She had gone away, got help, and presumably got better. Reading and re-reading, I questioned whether another word or a stronger suggestion could have made a difference.
In her last text to me she wrote, “I am fatigued by the meddling that goes on in the name of caring.”
When it comes to mental health of a dear friend, where is the line between ‘meddling in’ and ‘caring for’?
Perhaps I misread the tone of her fonts. Perhaps I didn’t ‘suggest’ hard enough or loud enough. Perhaps I just went too far. At her best, her playful, graceful, spirited personality was a beacon for all to emulate. But when she fell, she fell hard.
Two ironies strike me on the day after. First, the web of love and support from a community that sprung into action during previous episodes, remains, even in all its grief, as solidly intact as it ever has been. Yet I still find it disturbingly easy to empathize with the indescribable loneliness our friend must have felt.
The second is, that while ending one’s own life may seem like an answer, it does nothing but raise questions and self doubts for those left behind. I know it has for me.
After reflecting throughout the day after, the text I sent at 5:33 A.M. is as good a message I can give, or receive, “God’s mercy often arrives in ways that aren’t so pretty. Thank you for keeping me in the loop. Let me know if there is a planned service. Thanks and hugs to you. P.”
Bless you E. Bless all of us.