“Aunty, I have to 2 talk 2 u. Something very bad has happened. Plzzzz text me back!”
That was the text message I received first thing this morning from my best friend’s 13 year old step-daughter. I knew by the way my nerve endings were dancing on the tips of flames that my whole life was about to change forever.
My best friend of 35 years had taken a shotgun and killed herself last night.
What do you think was the very first thing I did after hearing this news? I called her. I knew it couldn’t be true, but there was that gnawing at the recesses of some primal part of me that had caused a mutiny in my brain and had switched on auto-pilot. It drove me by sheer muscle memory to pick up the phone and call her. That was the only logical thing to do, right? Of course in the 60 seconds that her phone was ringing…realization set in and my whole world came crashing down around me.
In the 17 hours since that text message, I do believe I have run through the stages of grieving in at least 20 cycles. Maybe. I don’t know. One thing I do know for sure is that it has been intense. I cannot fathom trying to put into words, the violence of having her ripped from my life like that. The devastation is so powerful that it has left me standing in the middle of the debris that once was my life. You cannot describe angst and anguish to that degree. The pain is truly palpable.
Now as I sit here at my keyboard at 1:00 in the morning, puffy-eyed and weary, I don’t know what I feel. Confusion? Anger? Guilt? Sorrow? All of those and more. I walked 20 miles in circles today repeating the phrase “Why, Celeste? Why?” simply because I didn’t know what else to do.
The worst part is when my brain starts replaying my last memories of her in my head. They appear as a home movie, which makes me feel far, far away from her. It also makes me feel guilty for not having known something was wrong. I see her face in those movies, laughing and smiling, but I can’t warn her of what is about to happen. All I can do is watch the same inevitable ending over and over again.
Oh, and the anger! It is just as intense as the sorrow. How could you do it, Celeste? How could you leave little Savannah behind ? You were that little girl’s entire world! And what about me?! How could you leave me behind like that? Your son, your sister and brother, your husband and your kids? Why?
I see those beautiful twinkling blue eyes of hers, smiling back at me in that conspiratory manner. I’ve seen that look a million times in the last 35 years.
Here comes the guilt. She’s gone. How can you yell at her now? That will hurt her, deeply. So I struggle to regain my composure and will, for a moment, be victorious.
Then it starts all over again.