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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Venti Anni...

It constantly blows my mind that I'm old enough to have things that happened 20 years ago. That I actually can utter statements like "Wow, that was 20 years ago". I don't feel old enough for that possibility, but here we sit, I am old enough, and I'm face to face with it being 20 years.

On Wednesday, April 30th, 2014, it will be 20 years since my friends Mari & Liz killed themselves. Twenty years. I swear to you, there are moments when I get a stab of pain over it that feels like it was last year, or last month, or sometimes even yesterday. I still do. And it's been 20 years. Spring is a weird time for me, I'm guessing that's the case for more people than just me. It's the end of winter, the lead into summer. But it also signifies the end of life for my 2 friends, and the beginning of a new kind of life for those of us left behind.

I say "left behind" because at the time, that's what it felt like. Like they had left us and frolicked off together to some greener pasture that we couldn't go to. And we were left gobsmacked, upset beyond anything we could comprehend, not understanding what had just happened, terrified of what life would be like with this pain, and what it would be like without them. Left behind. Do I still feel that way now? I don't think so. But there are too many unanswered questions for me to put my finger on exactly how I feel.

That's actually what led me to write this blog. My beautiful friend Anne, who was one of my partners in all of this pain, sent me a great article a couple of weeks ago: Confessions of a Suicide Survivor . I felt...some kind of way...after reading this because, even though it's been 20 years, I still have guilt, I still wonder what I could have done, and I still wonder why. The rational adult in me knows that it wasn't my fault, and that there is nothing I could have done, and I will never, ever know why. No matter how many times I beg the universe to bring them to my dreams to answer that question, I will never know why. The article validated me, because for many years now, among all the other "Whys" attached to suicide that I ask myself from time to time, I have been asking a couple new ones..."Why is this so hard for me to get over? Why does this still hurt like new sometimes?" As the author says "The expression 'time heals everything' does not often apply to suicide survivors." There's my why...doesn't matter how much time passes, the nerve is going to be exposed for the rest of my life.

It strikes me how much of my adult self was molded by their deaths. How much of my adult self was molded by the guilt of not being able to do anything, or stop them. I have ridden that guilt into basically every.single.friendship since then. I have worried about another friend of mine falling through the cracks, and I have loved my friends so fiercely, because I never again want to feel like I am not good enough at being a friend. Yes, I felt like I wasn't good enough at being a friend to Mari & Liz. Saying that feels good. Because I've been ashamed of feeling that way for so long, which...I don't think I should. It's a totally unsurprising way to feel when someone you love kills themselves. I felt like I wasn't good enough at being a friend to them. 

The silver lining to all of this has been my friendship with Anne, which was born out of the pain of losing Mari & Liz. We weren't close before then, now we're 20 years strong, and I look at our friendship as proof that Mari & Liz are watching out for us. Knowing that we would need each other over the years, knowing that when 20 years came around, we'd have an amazing friendship to celebrate alongside the commemoration of the beautiful friends that we'd lost.

Please don't misunderstand me, I am not unhappy, or miserable, I'm quite the opposite, actually. I have accumulated so much happiness in my life over the last 20 years, I feel a little bit like a hoarder. I selfishly wrote this for me, I needed to because I still think about this, it still hurts me, I still ache at their loss even though I'm not sure if we'd even still be friends today. And yes, I wonder about that.

I will spend a lot of my day tomorrow thinking about Mari & Liz, the days weeks and years afterwards. Thinking about specific moments in time with them, trying to remember the way their laughs sounded...god, I loved laughing with them. I'll spend time looking at the pictures I have of them, smiling at their smiles. I'll spend time talking to them. I will think about the people who held me up during that time, who held me up after, who still hold me up today. And I'll remember that it's not wrong to still feel this, I'll remember that it's not my fault, and I'll remember that I'm strong, I'm okay. And more than that, I'm happy.