For Michelle, and the others we’ve lost
I’ve been there, standing, breathing in that one terrible thought that really, everyone would be better off if I just left this planet. It wasn’t at all a selfish thought about a selfish act. Yes, I wanted the pain to stop, but I did believe they’d be better off without me. All of them.
Early this week, a friend took her own life. She had a lot of things that might have brought her there, to that place on the edge. She had chronic pain and other things going on that were hard to overcome. But she was always the one asking me on Messenger how I was, asking if I needed help, making sure I was okay. She reached out more than I did, because I’m afraid to let anyone in, and because she was just that kind of person. I kept her, like I keep everyone, at arms length. And so we weren’t close, in spite of her trying, but we were connected, and she recognized the kindred there. And so did I. She was a writer, and she loved art, fractals, weird and amazing stuff. She loved dogs. We talked about bands, and cancer, and surgery, and husbands who are bass players. But we didn’t talk enough. I’m left now, hating on myself for the distance I kept, wishing I’d been there for her, like all of her friends are. We’re all wishing we’d done something. Anything.
We are not better off. We are grieving, and lost. We’re trying to find our way now, you can see it on her Facebook page, where hundreds of people are posting messages and memories*. You can see it in the blank looks we get on our faces, glazed eyes in the middle of a workday, or in the shower, or just driving when some particular song comes on. Nobody is better off. This sucks, it SUCKS. Hard.
We are NOT better off.
I promise you, nobody will be better off without you, even if you feel hated or abandoned. It’s a LIE that sometimes people tell themselves when desperation hits. I know how it sounds whispered like a cool dark cloud in your head, almost a relief. I know the lie, and how sometimes you can believe it. I don’t know if my friend told herself that lie. I can’t speak for her, and neither can she anymore. But I promise you, hundreds of people are hurting, and nobody is better off.
* My note to Michelle:
I missed it, the chance to reach out, to tell you how great you are, to say another thank you, to ask you how you’re doing. I thought I’d have time to get to know you better, and I missed it. The last time you wrote, just a month ago, I answered with a quick cool, thanks. I didn’t ask you how you were doing, I’m sure I was in a rush. And I missed it. And now I miss you, and your quirky but disarming sideways smile and soft hair, and the tiny little check-ins you did with me on messenger, which I totally took for granted, just like the art and the weird things, and the beautiful things, and the funny t-shirts, and hanging by the fire pit and all of the other things. I’m glad I got to know you. You made the world better, lady.