Earlier this week I received a call from a sister of a dear friend. She informed me that my friend has passed away almost 2 weeks ago. She called because she knew her sister and I were close. But she didn’t know how to find me. She found my number in her sister’s contact book and called the office. I’ve only seen my friend’s sister maybe once or twice in the last 25 years or so. My heart sank at the news. When Jessica told me I had a message from the sister, something inside me knew it was not good.
She asked me if I was the “Thien” her sister knew. She described how her sister talks about me and I thought it was funny. Shyly, I admitted to all the details. She proceeded cautiously but didn’t know how to continue so she just blurted it out. She wanted to know if I knew anything about her sister’s suicide. At that moment, I had no idea. I was in shock. But now that time has passed, I remember discussing it with my friend. I was the therapist for her depressed mind. She was the person that was surrounded by sadness. Years I listened to her stories and tried to find a glimpse of hope for her. I don’t always have the answers. But she wasn’t always looking for them, just a different perspective.
Last month, I texted her to let her know she owes me a birthday lunch. Our birthdays are about a week apart. Usually we try to celebrate it together by spending a day together. This just translates into my day off and me making her take a day off or play hooky. One year I actually went to her company for a couple of hours and waited. After that day, she wouldn’t allow me to her workplace anymore. She was embarrassed that I was scanning the place for a “hottie”. She’s single, smart and beautiful. I wanted a guy who was deserving of her. But when you’re the HR director and your crazy friend is the goofball checking out the employees at work, it just doesn’t look right. We don’t get to see each other often, just a few times throughout the year.
I haven’t seen her since summer. We called and texted each other but it was just last month that we reconnected. She said she was busy with work and would reschedule our standing lunch date. Life happened. Time passed. Then her sister called. I’m not going to go into how life is too short. It’s not. It’s what you make of it. I came to accept when it’s time to go, it will happen. I am going to say that when a tough subject matter comes about, you really do have to address it. Suicide is a tough subject matter.
My friend has attempted this before. She was struggling with depression from heartbreak. Then it was family dysfunction. Then it was just life circumstances, which eventually lead to bad choices. I went off to graduate school. I came back to California. She went to graduate school. We reconnected. Then I went off to Florida. I came back. She found me. We’ve been together since. My house became her temporary hospice. But as we age, I noticed I became more of a confidante, a sounding board for her morality as well as mortality. We shared things that if a fly was on the wall, we had to kill it. What I love about this relationship was that it was raw honesty. We were free to express any emotions without judgment, just name-calling. At least that was how I see it.
She was one of my closest friends from my younger years. I care for her more each time I see her. We did fun and crazy things when no one was watching. We ate so much food and went on many “dates” together. I solidified her love for me when I threatened her early in our friendship. She was in awe of my skinny bada** attitude when she could have easily “sat on me” and shut me up. She was chubbier then. After that, I was the “ghetto” child. She was completely dainty. But we were both feminists.
A few years ago, I was driving in the rain and couldn’t see the lanes on the freeway we were on. I kept yelling, ”We’re going to die! We’re going to die!” Instead of helping me look for the lanes, she was laughing in hysterics. She almost peed in her pants. Because she was laughing so hard, it became contagious. That just made the lanes completely obliterated from my view. Which in turn made my screams of death even louder. She ultimately lost it and leaked in her pants. That had to be one of our funniest moments together.
I was always the instant lesbian girlfriend when someone she doesn’t find attractive looks at her. She would whisper words of bodily harm and threats if I were to move as she grabs a body part in full view. We were so different, yet at the same time so much alike. She didn’t want a husband “to divorce” but admired my marriage. She never wanted children because they require a responsible adult, but was a great babysitter and mom to dogs. She was a carefree spirit that I live vicariously through. Her life was full and many times tumultuous. She was extremely considerate, even to a fault. She worried too much about someone else’s opinion and not enough of her own. One guy broke her heart but she was still full of love for her families and girlfriends. No other man could capture and amend those pieces. They were mostly just transients.
She was intense. She cared so much that her heart wasn’t given much freedom to be spontaneous. As disciplined as many of you think I am, around her I was the comedy relief. Typically, I’m just the happy medium that reins her in from the extremes. One day she kept telling me that she wanted to go home because she was lying on my couch suffering from a week old shrimp that she ate without thinking in her apartment. She stated she couldn’t afford my nursing services. I reiterated that I wasn’t a nurse. She will be charged for doctorate services. She cursed my name, as laughter was painful.
I know she is where she wants to be, unbeknownst or not. I’m not sad for her but for myself. I lost a sister I was going to grow old with. As her family gets ready to give her a ceremonial good-bye, I am forever going to hold her in my heart. We joked that she is not allowed to haunt me because I’m such a chicken. But at this moment, I wouldn’t mind a visit. My head will be replaying her memories. I could not keep her from peril but she is safe now. No more worries or heartaches. She finally found the peace she so desperately wanted. Rest well, A. I love you more. Enjoy your afterlife.