Thursday, April 8, 2010

She Glittered When She Walked

A dear friend of mine died thirty-six years ago, and I have wanted to talk about it for a long time. But capturing her has always eluded me, and I want to do her justice. I'm not sure this will do her justice, but I don't want to wait any longer.

She was like a beloved character from a novel who gives you a warm feeling and makes you hate for the book to end. Two years older than me, she was the sister I never had, and I followed her around and hung on her every word, and those were often quirky. She had a way of looking at life that I've never encountered again, and I wish were still in the world. Her zest for almost everything seemed uncontainable, and she frequently brought light into a room and defined it for everyone.

I loved the way she put everything in her terms. Even her terms of endearment. Anyone who was an object of affection, no matter how young or old, was referred to as "old skinny leg." Maybe that's a common expression somewhere in the world, but I've never heard anyone else use it, and I'm not sure I ever want to. I still hear the sound of her voice when she said it.

This week I'm thinking of her because Monday was her birthday. When I hear or see April 5th, she's immediately in my head laughing and talking. Her head is cocked and she's making a crack about something, and I hear myself laugh. I've had to content myself with reliving those moments and wondering what she would have been like as she grew older and married and had a family or whatever it is she would have done. But that's never going to happen, and I still mourn it.

When she was seventeen, she gave up on life. One day after school she shot herself in the head. Her dad found her, and of course he was never the same after that. Her mother never seemed to have much reaction until about ten years later when she killed herself too.

I don't know what particular pain Jan was suffering, but I know the kind of mental anguish that can tempt someone to think ending things is the only way to get some relief. It's a horror to be in that state, and the real tragedy is that it doesn't have to be that way. There is relief that doesn't require self-destruction, but it does require bowing. Bowing to something greater than ourselves. Something filled with more light than ourselves. I don't know if Jan had done that and just lost her focus, but I hope she did. It's the only thing that really alleviates the grieving.


Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry for your loss.

Abbreviated comments are not the place for long disquisitions, especially, perhaps, non-biblical ones, but I cling to the notion that G-d must love people who kill themselves extra hard in order to make up for the love and grace that they were not able to give themselves on earth. A friend of mine says the answers to these questions will be posted on the bulletin board in the eschaton. Until then, we can only hope, trust, and pray.

bZirk said...

Thanks, servetus.