She is gone... She sadly she took her own life and she is gone.
It hurts so much to just even type that out. I feel so detached from that entire statement. "She took her own life." There should be a better way to say something like that. A kinder way. A less painful way to say that statement. SOMETHING should be better than that. She deserved better than that. But I just don't know the words to make it sound less harsh. Less sad and more, I don't know... Just not those words, but I don't have any other words tonight to fix that sentence. At least not right now. Not tonight.
But I am going to try to do her memory justice and say a few words about her life, even if I can't say the right words about her death. I guess the best place to start is the beginning, right? Well not the beginning for her, of course, but it WAS the beginning of something. Something special that I was so lucky to be a part of... and she was a part of that magical something special too.
Back in 1998, I met an incredible group of young women, all packed into the all-girls freshman dorm my first year of college. For all of us, this was our first real year away from home and on our own. We quickly bonded in a series of common experiences that were the equivalent of the following unspoken imaginary conversation we were all having together on a regular basis. It all started when one of us would say something like: "Holy hell, what are we doing here? Does anybody know? Seriously, does anybody really know????" And as each one of us looked to another with totally and completely blank stares, we realized we had no idea what was going on or what we were "supposed" to do. We also realized even more quickly that we were in it TOGETHER and somehow that seemed to make it not so scary. And from then on we were thick as thieves and we just muddled through, all of us, together in that first year.
And those times were crazy. We laughed so very very hard. I mean we laughed just so damn hard it was ridiculous some nights. And when we couldn't figure it out, we blasted our music until we couldn't think and more importantly couldn't remember what the issue was again and then we ended up laughing and dancing... and inevitably laughing and dancing even more. Dancing through the dorm halls and classroom corridors, at clubs and pubs, and just about anywhere you could think of... we just bounced around campus like young fools, laughing and dancing all the way.
And then there were tears too. Family stuff, bad breakups, stressful midterms and finals and so much more, but what I remember most is there was always so much laughter and so much dancing, even when everything else went to shit. And we always had each other. Consequently there was also so much growing up that happened for all of us in that first year away from home and this group of beautiful souls were like my lighthouse in the storm and I would have been lost to sea without them. Each one of these women also grew to become some of the most wonderful women I have ever known in my life and still know to this day. Those shared experiences helped shape me, for good or for bad, into who I am today.
And she was one of those souls that shined in the darkness. She was one of them.
She was feisty and funny and so incredibly smart. She played guitar and sang like an angel. I can't even count how many nights she would come and play her guitar and we gathered around and listened to her sing slow beautiful ballads on that guitar, or even sometimes change the lyrics of a well known song to something totally silly just because it suited her that night. She was just awesome. She was so strong and she was one of the most passionate people I ever knew and she was totally determined to go about fixing the world, one mind at a time, of all the things that were wrong in the world. She was just such a cool chick. And she was an absolute riot and at the time, seemed like she had no problem walking her own path alone. If you didn't want to come along, that was just fine, she would forge her own path and wish you luck and hope she met you somewhere down the line. And that was that. I really admired her. I was nothing like her but I think that is actually what I liked most about her. She was a truth telling bad ass who was compassionate, funny, intelligent, and one of the coolest people I ever did know.
After school, many of us in that group lost touch for a wide variety of reasons, which all seem really dumb to me now, looking back in the rear view mirror. Some friendships fell apart as we drifted onto new paths. And I freely admit that I walked away from some friendships because after that first year I made a lot of mistakes and I fucked up some things pretty bad and admitting I was an ass was not on the top of my to-dos for many many years. I did reconnect with some and I'm so glad that I did but I always wished I had reconnected with more. But even the ones that I didn't reconnect, I never forgot them. Never ever ever forgot them. Each and every one of them meant something so special to me, but some I just missed the boat. She was one of them that it seems that I missed the boat and the few times I thought about reconnecting with her, I didn't really look that hard if I'm being honest with myself. She was one that drifted and I just assumed someday we would meet again as our paths crossed at a future date. It never really occurred to me that this wouldn't be the case. And it feels wrong that I felt that way at the time and I didn't try harder. And now I will never get a chance to make that wrong, a right. And that just makes me heartbroken.
Now, I'm not so self-absorbed to think that if ONLY I had reached out to her at some point over these years that somehow that I would have changed anything or made some momentous difference in her life. I'm well aware that I'm not that special or have some amazing changing power, but then again, maybe it would have just helped her to know that there was one more person rooting for her and she wouldn't have felt so alone in this big dark world. The what ifs are the hardest part.
And now that I'm being truly honest, I feel like I'm not sure I'm even allowed to have the feelings of loss and grief that I am experiencing right now. That my tears are not really appropriate. She was a friend of mine years ago, but we hadn't talked in probably 15 or more years. Why is this hitting me so hard that the waves of grief keep sneaking up on me and before you know it, I'm crying again and can't seem to stop? After trying to pull my shit together so many times today, I still don't know exactly what all is going on here. Am I really allowed to feel this way? When I allowed our paths to go such different directions without any attempt on my part to reach out.
I'm just really not sure I have any right to be sad. I didn't make any real effort for 15 years but NOW I somehow feel the right to cry tears of regret for being absent? No. I don't get to do that... do I? Logic and emotion are not on the same wavelength tonight and I keep trying to talk my heart into not feeling this way anymore. But the waves of hurt still come, and it takes my breath away. And I try to snap myself out of it by telling myself that her death is not about me, for god's sake. It is not about anything I did or did not do. So why am I making this once again about myself? I feel selfish, guilty, sad, confused, angry, and heartbroken. But most of all I just feel like all of my insides have been scooped out. And frankly I don't even know what that emotion is called. IS that even an emotion? Or is that just what you get when all of the above get tangled up in a ball that sits in the pit of your stomach? I have no idea. I just know it hurts.
At this point, I don't care if it is guilt or regret or grief or pain but it's just not right that I didn't tell her so many things like... that she mattered and she was so good and she was worthy and she was loved. And I want to go back in time and tell her ALL the things and hug her and hold her. My head knows I didn't cause this but my heart wants so badly to just have tried harder. And I just can't reconcile my heart with my head.
So I guess I will just say the next few words, just for her, and throw it out to the void or wherever she may be now.
Honey, I'm sorry that I didn't reach out to you. I have no idea why I never told you how much I admired your fire and was amazed by your passion and talent and your wit and all of you. I'm so sorry and I wish I could have taken your pain away. It never occurred to me that you would be hurting so much and I'm so damn mad at myself that I didn't see you. The underneath you that was hurting. I'm sorry for the time that was lost because I thought it was just how things go sometimes and I rationalized all of that bullshit. You deserved a better friend in me and I'm sorry I let you down. And if your soul is floating around some place that you can read or feel any of this, I hope you feel these words more than anything. I don't know what was going in your life, but my god, I wish I could have been a light in your lighthouse during the storm, like you and all those girls were for me so many years ago....You were and ARE STILL loved, you mattered, and you will be so very much missed.
And now, I won't ever say "she is gone" again because you actually aren't gone at all. You can't be and you never will be. You are so many of my memories, and so you are part of me, and all those other girls too, and you made us and this world a better place. I hope your soul finds joy and love and peace in your next chapter and I hope your spirit runs wild and free just like I knew it would someday.
In loving memory, LeAnne