Very recently, a woman I knew online committed suicide. She was a single mom, struggling with being a single mom, her health, the politics of the day, and her own needs being unfulfilled. I cannot say that I know her whole story, but, I know a slice of her life because of the few years we shared laughs, insights and a few well-placed insults.
This woman, in all her beautiful heartbreak, was strong. She was so very, very strong. It came through the computer, through the screen and the clicking of my own keys as I tried to keep up with her. She was inspiring to me, frustrating, and a person who I had not really spoken with in a couple of years. Never actually even thought about her, to be honest, as we parted on pretty negative terms.
But, this woman’s strength was always what I would remember. She would stand up for what she believed in, for what was right and true and fair. I even had the honor of meeting her, and I can honestly say that despite our animosity toward each other, she was truly one of the most beautiful women I have ever met. Physically beautiful, yes, but this inner strength and beauty just radiated from her. She never knew how I admired her, and I know she’s laughing at me now for even dwelling.
In many ways, I feel bad that this really is not my grief to hold. She left behind daughters and grandbabies. She had family and close friends who have more of a right than I do to feel her loss. Yet, her loss is such a part of me. Her death changed me. It changed everything.
I lost a person I knew, who, I could have reached out to at any point. I would have, had I known, but for people who want to end their lives, they don’t really ever say, do they? It is that point that is the hardest, because, I never reach out to others. When I feel alone, I write and keep to myself. As an introvert, its normal to need that time, and I realize that, but, her death scared me… because that could be me in ten years. This woman who, at times, I wanted to emulate… who was already way further into being on her own with kids than I was. She quit, and even while I’m still finding my feet, I could understand that feeling on a level that shook me to the core.
My own mother died when I was 21. She had AIDS, and it wasn’t a surprise, but, I was left alone then. I scrambled from relationship to relationship trying to find something to make me feel whole. I did drugs, I drank too much. I took risks. I married a few times, divorced a few times, and today, I have myself and my kids. I don’t want to leave my kids like my mom left me. Whether through a disease or through circumstances or my own feelings of just being overwhelmed… I don’t want to leave them like my mom left me, like my friend left her kids.
In ten years, I don’t want the sad messages and disbelief over my passing. In ten years, I want to watch my babies take that walk to their graduation, knowing they are mostly functional on their own, and in ten years, I want them to turn to me and be able to hug me and know I am always there for them. In ten years, I want to be able to look back on this really difficult time and smile, because I made it through, and my kids are healthier than I was at their ages. Even just a little bit.
I miss that woman, that sometimes-friend I had who made me laugh and scream, but I have to thank her for a huge lesson in perspective at the moment I really needed it.