Memories from a time gone by.
T was a slender girl with fine features, average height and mid length ebony coloured hair that flirted with the wind as she walked. She had a cheerful, shy smile that more often than not she was very self conscious about. Everything about her spoke of a young woman who had a sensitive and tender soul. For me, it was her eyes that always drew me in. Eyes the shape of tear drops and the colour of rich pools of melted dark chocolate glistening with either, mischief, wonder or happiness. On very good days, that sparkle often transformed itself into soft contagious giggles. T never liked attention even though she had a way of brightening up a room without even trying.
For every moment that she warmed the hearts of those around here, there were even more days when life’s painful struggles would draw her into very dark places. Her eyes would change into ominous dark pools of pain, anger and bitterness. Sometimes we as friends shared hope infused words that would draw her out of her miry depths. A few times she was too far gone that our rescue efforts fell on deaf ears. On such days, I fervently prayed for her, imploring God to step into the depths that I could not reach. Ours was a friendship that was dominated by the constant game of tug-of-war between life and death. A fight to see who would be the ultimate victor, the few simple joys of her life or deaths hypnotic pull.
The last time we played the game, summer was almost upon us. The sun played hide and seek with a few of the scattered clouds but at the most part, they preferred to be left alone. It was not too hot and the afternoon air had a chill that warranted a light jacket. A perfect day to spend an hour at the local lagoon and that’s what we did as five friends. The car was filled with girly chatter and laughter as I meandered the villages roads riddled with treacherous muddy potholes. It was only when we sat by the lake and looked into each others eyes that I realized she was not well.
Even though I was grateful for the trust she had for us, her candid words describing her deep pain that afternoon frightened me. Even more so the state of her eyes, foreboding maelstroms of hopelessness that shook me to the core. I had never seen her so far gone. Our circle was pulsating with palpable anguish and yet the scenery around us was of picturesque serene beauty, very common to those parts. The lakes navy blue waves tenderly interacted with the shore whilst the wind intermingled with the birch trees. Its gentleness encouraging thousands of fresh green leaves to unfurl themselves for summer. Everything about the lagoon spoke of peace. It almost made me believe that everything would be alright.
One by one the four of us reminded her of the gold she had and the treasure she was to us. As we talked, It felt as if I was walking on razor thin ice, aware that one wrong step would unravel the protective bonds of hope that we as friends lovingly wove for T. As the conversation continued to flow, I watched as her eyes began to change and by the time we left the lagoon, the choking hold that despair had over her was gone. Her eyes shone. Only then did I allow myself to believe that death had lost.
Two days later, she hang herself.
I now know the unique grief that comes with suicide. I understand the battle that rages in the mind as my heart is bombarded by a myriad of questions that I know will never be answered but my mind still clamors for a response. I have struggled to cope with the irrational guilt of not doing enough and the pain. Dear God the pain. Often I would welcome the numbness that enveloped my heart and gave me respite but even that was short lived as the pain would always pierce through my flimsy defenses. It felt as if, suicide had marched right up to me and ripped my heart out without remorse, leaving a gaping hole where my heart should have been. It was excruciating for months.
T left us two years ago, the pain has turned into a forever ache and I have learned repeatedly to lay the guilt and questions to rest. Tender and delicate tendrils of hope are now growing in the places that death left scorched and barren.
T, I miss you, I always will.
‘I remember my affliction and my wandering,
the bitterness and the gall.
I well remember them,
and my soul is downcast within me.
Yet this I call to mind
and therefore I have hope:
Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him.’
Jeremiah the prophet.