She was the only person, out of all the people, I'd met who wanted to know more about this disease so she could learn how to be supportive. That meant so much to me.
Around Christmas time I started crashing so had to miss several functions including a get together on New Year's Eve, football games, dinner, lunch, meetings. She sent me a text asking me why I'd dropped out of sight so I told her and that was when she told me to teach her about my disease. She didn't shy away from it.
I was isolated for so many years, had lost my confidence completely. When we met I was a pretty broken person. But around her I felt my old self starting to return. I began to laugh again. She laughed at my jokes. Friendships mean the world to me now because of the isolation.
When I make friends in the world of ME or lyme or whatever I know there's the risk of loss. Someone can get really sick. Someone can die (and people have). Or someone can commit suicide (and people have).
So I was completely unprepared today while getting out of my car to attend a meeting when a mutual friend approached me with a stricken look on her face, put her hand on my shoulder and said "I have some really bad news".
And proceeded to tell me that our friend committed suicide yesterday.
She had sent me a text at 11:40 Saturday night. It was unusual to get a text from her so late. She said didn't care what was going on with me (illness, depression) but that she missed me and she loved me. I responded in kind. I shared with her a little of what was going on with me but deep inside I felt an alarm bell go off. She didn't respond so I assumed she'd gone to bed.
Earlier that day she'd sent a text saying she was in a really bad place and maybe she'd see me at a meeting. I told her I'd be there and looked forward to seeing her. I got a text about 15 minutes later saying she was in a really bad place emotionally and she was going to call a close friend of hers to she if she could "talk her out of it". If I'd only followed up.
I thought I'd talk to her Sunday. If not definitely on Monday. When I didn't hear from her I sent a text yesterday early afternoon. No response so I sent another one later that day wondering what was going on.
But it was too late.
The coroner estimated she'd killed herself anywhere from 4:30 am Tuesday to mid-morning.
I knew she was having a hard time. We had some talks about it. I didn't expect this would be the outcome.
I feel sick inside. I'm so very, very upset. I hung out with friends for most of the afternoon today. One guy looked at me and "you have to promise me you'll never do that". He repeated himself three times. We are all shaken-deeply shaken.
I'm going through the "what ifs and I should haves"....I should have known. God knows it's what I used to do for a living. Getting that text Saturday night should have alerted me. If I hadn't still been crashed maybe I would have been more on top of it. I should have listened to that inner voice. I should have known. What if I'd called her Sunday? Would she still be alive? What if I'd called her Monday? Would she still be here? I know better to ask these questions but I still think "what if..."
Worst of all is knowing she was in trouble and hurting and I can't talk to her about it. I can't give her that hug and tell her to hang in there.
I didn't get a chance to tell her goodbye. But I did get to tell her that I loved her.
It all feels unreal yet horrible at the same time.
I wish so many things. I wish the help she sought was available sooner. I wish my phone was turned on when she tried to call me. I wish I hadn't crashed so I could have spent more time with her. She was one of my first real friends, probably my first real local in-person friend, since getting so sick and since the break-up.
Though I miss her and miss all the future we would have had together as friends, I know she is at peace now.