It's been a year since my friend Denise committed suicide, and I recognized some of the warning signs in my own self and in my own life. I resolved to set wheels in motion to guard against my own despair, as well as to get more alert to other people.
A year later, how am I doing? How are others doing? How does her life continue to touch us?
Her mom carries great pain. And anger. Two of Denise's friends wanted to take up the store and run it in memoriam, but she threatened legal action. "It's my daughter's idea, and no one else can have it!" To me, to deny the fruition of the good things Denise was doing, only reinforces the negative.
I carry a couple of small regrets. How could I have been a better friend? I also regret not punching the lights out of her final, abusive boyfriend. He's still walking around, undoutably spreading misery. Perhaps Denise is spreading joy from her new home.
I've managed to establish some new, better habits. My greatest success has come in letting a couple of people witness my darkest place. I've risked being a whole person, rather than being my idea of what people expect me to be. It's messy, being a whole person. There are gross bits. What if people reject me? Can't I just keep hiding the yucky parts? Those are the fears.
Once you let fear start talking, its voice gets stronger. So let people in, share the painful places, and discover the true strength of community. I've discovered this, and I've come a fair ways along in practising it.
Denise, thanks for the gift you gave me, of waking me up like this. I'm so sorry you had to give your life to make it happen.
Please forgive me for not being a whole person around you. God bless you now.