Thursday, August 21, 2008

I just found out that someone I know committed suicide.

I hadn't seen her for, I don't know, a dozen years or so. We met her through a mutual friend, and when things got funky between her and our mutual friend, we sort of drifted away as well. Boston's not a big place, but somehow we never bumped into her. Since March, she had even been working for one of my clients, but none of this I knew. I also didn't know she'd had a long history of depression, and had twice before attempted suicide.

She was 43. She was 43 and very attractive. She was 43 and single, though apparently dating. She was 43 and childless, and a failed attempt at in-vitro fertilization closely preceded her suicide. She was 43, and apparently had nothing to live for. She was 43, and I guess she'll be 43 forever.

She was a guest at our wedding, 15 years ago this October. We have photos of her celebrating with us. She was happy, an enormous smile in every picture. My wife and I have a morbid kind of game we play, marking our years together by counting our wedding guests who've died. Most of them have been great aunts and uncles; only one other, my friend Marc whom I wrote about in an earlier post, was of my own generation. Marc was the youngest, but her death is somehow more shocking.

Of course, that may be illustrative of the fact that I didn't know her as well as I thought, and not at all in at least the last decade. Had I known her well, seen her often, I'd've known her struggles, sensed her pain. Maybe I would feel today as though there was something I could have done to save her; or maybe I would feel OK, knowing she finally was at peace.

How I feel now is sad. I wish I had the opportunity to say goodbye, to tell her that through the years of silence I still remembered her, thought of her. She may have felt alone, but she wasn't really. She had to know people loved her. Maybe that wasn't enough. Maybe no amount of love or caring for her could have made a difference. Maybe there was a black hole inside her, a cavity or a cancer, that sucked in or destroyed her desire to live. Maybe she knew her soul was already dead, and it merely was time to take her body with it.

I found out tonight from our mutual friend, but she took her life last Monday. Her funeral was in Ann Arbor, where she was from. There is no ceremony for me to attend, no mourning ritual that is suitable for me to perform. I can only think of her, remember her smile, regret the years that passed, and wish that her soul is at rest.

And if the dead can read blogs, maybe she'll learn that I liked her, and that I'll miss her, and that I wish it all were different, that we could go back to that day where we raised champagne glasses and smiled for a photographer trying unsuccessfully to be unobtrusive, and if I'd known it would come to this, I would have tried to be there for her, but I thought there was time, and I thought fate or chance would give us the opportunity to catch up, acknowledge that we're here together on a difficult journey, embrace and know that bonds may fray but never really break, and wish each other well until our orbits collided again.

But that never happened, and it will never happen, not on this sphere. And maybe that's the biggest regret. Because after all, this was her third attempt to kill herself. It's clearly what she wanted. So I don't regret her decision or her action as much as I regret that I was, or may have been, part of her universe of loss and disappointment, a friendship that didn't last, a relationship that had no legs, a name like so many without a presence.

And so, there's really nothing I can do, and nothing I can say, except:
I'm sorry, Susan.

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