Today, the day you’re reading this, makes the 70th day since my best friend took her own life.
Okay, maybe by some definitions she wasn’t my BEST friend. Did I call her every night with my troubles? No. Did she call me every night with hers? No. It had been at least 18 years since we lived in the same county.
But did I love her? Yes, very much. When we saw each other, we tended to pick up right where we left off. She was my very dear friend, and I would have done anything for her.
Except, apparently, be there for her when she needed me most.
We last spoke on June 2nd. I could hear the desperation in her voice. I knew she was close to doing something dangerous, something she couldn’t walk back from.
I knew because I’d been there before.
My own brush with suicide came in 2008. I tend to be shy and introverted, especially in a new job. And when that job requires me to be outgoing, it can be a challenge.
I was working as a membership coordinator for a state association. The night of the membership mixer, I was pushed to my breaking point. I was tired, my feet were sore, and I really, really wanted it all to be over. I thought I might be able to take refuge on a chair for a little bit and rest my feet (and the rest of me), but my boss lifted her leg and showed me her bare feet (from across the room; she was wearing pants, guys, don’t worry) and I knew I wasn’t going to get away with it. As we were closing up the registration desk for the night, I tried handing the key to the cash box (the cash box we had to stop and buy because I forgot to pack the real one) to someone else, who asked me if I was all right. I said nothing and took the key back.
Up in my room, on the 15th floor, I ordered room service, which included a meal and a drink. One alcoholic drink. I contemplated my balcony. Long and hard.
I thought about jumping. I longed to get away from this accursed conference. And I cried, because I couldn’t do it; I didn’t have the courage. (Yes, suicide takes courage. To those who think it’s an act of cowardice, clearly you have never been that close to making that decision.)
So I knew what my friend was feeling. My best friend, whom I would have done anything for.
This year has been pretty much an absolute nightmare, for reasons which I will try to be brief in describing. We took in a boarder two weeks before Christmas of 2017, and in the beginning, all was fine. In the end, two of our cats had gone missing, and we found a third trapped in a room and throwing up blood when we had returned from a trip, having made the mistake of trusting this same person to watch the cats (feeling that she had learned her lesson when she hadn’t). When I spoke to my priest about the boarder, she (and Sekhmet) were very stern, telling me that I had shown too much compassion to the boarder, that compassion “when not wielded properly” can be a weapon. I was exhausted, from dealing with the boarder and her issues, and with multiple people who were close to me who did not like her. And now my priest was telling me not to be too compassionate (I later realized she was telling me not to show too much compassion to the same person).
So when I heard that painful, heartbreaking desperation in the voice of my friend, I held back. I didn’t say, “Please call me, day or night, if you need to talk.” I thought of myself and my need for rest.
Exactly two weeks later, she was found drowned in her own swimming pool.
While I have not heard conclusively if the police have ruled out homicide, I know what happened. There was too much going on for her; life had beaten her down too hard. I was the last person she could come to, and I retreated at just the wrong time.
So I have done for my friend the only thing I can do at this point. I have poured cool water for her ka.
Rest in peace, Deb. May you join the akhu, the blessed dead. We love you.
If you feel like your life is too much, it doesn’t have to be the end. Please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, call 1-800-273-8255, or go to suicidepreventionlifeline.org. These resources are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Please get help. Whatever you’re going through is not worth your life.