Life is so strange. We go through our days expecting the familiar, sticking with our routines and time passes and then every once in a while we get caught off guard.
I’d met Darlene’s older sister at Darlene’s funeral nine years ago but we didn’t really talk then because we were so distraught. Nine years later she reached out to me on Facebook, which was a wonderful surprise. We agreed to meet and talk.
I tried to be prepared for anything. After nine years I knew that emotions would not be as raw as they were the day of the funeral, but I knew very little about this older sister. Would she want to know the details of my friend’s last day? Would she be angry at me for not stopping her? What could I tell her? What could she tell me? Though I was nervous about the encounter, I also felt safe because she and I already shared something secret and painful.
I don’t want to share too much of our conversation, but what moved me most was the ease at which the two of us could talk with each other and our resigned sadness at everything Darlene missed by dying so young. Her older sister had two more children in the past nine years and I have grown and changed in ways I never expected I would when I was seventeen.
Suicide can feel like a good choice when the world seems to have given up on you and you are tired of fighting day in and day out for your right to live. Sometimes life is nothing but pain, but it doesn’t mean that it will always be like that. Things change, they have to. We grow older, the seasons change, and the world keeps spinning. We need to do everything in our power to hold on. I wish Darlene had stayed in bed that day, that she had allowed me to stay with her, keep her company, tell her stories, cook her meals and give her hope. Now my hope lies in the future and the bizarre ways that the future surprises us. Darlene’s older sister and I were never supposed to be friends, but we connected out of necessity. We share something that most do not. I feel the ease with her that I felt with Darlene, that no matter how long it’s been since we talked, we’ll always be on the same page. And since Darlene cannot come back to either of us, we’re moving forward, together.