Thursday, May 12, 2016
Who was this radiant light of a person? A dear friend, devoted wife, and loving mother of two amazing children. She was my husband's brother from another mother's spouse and I loved her from the first day our boys introduced us.
We had different backgrounds and paths in life, but when we were together we laughed a lot and got along so well. If we'd lived in the same town, we'd be at each other's houses all the time.
Her smile and her laughter....I can see the glow and hear the music when I close my eyes. What amazed me the most: she'd lived a hard life, but you would never know this from her attitude. Anytime life through shit her way she managed to turn crap into gold. I've never seen someone with so much perseverance and positiveness despite their circumstances. Eventually, thought, if you throw enough rocks at a song bird, she'll eventually stop singing.
I don't know what happened for sure the last two years of her life, as I was fighting my own demons. From what I heard, they were pretty dark. We drifted apart only maintaining superficial contact via Facebook and an occasional text message. I had no idea things had gotten ugly.
We played Candy Crush Soda and would give each other lives on a daily basis. One day her picture didn't move from the level that I thought was super easy. Two days later, I saw the Go Fund Me post for the family. I clicked on the link and couldn't believe my eyes. It couldn't be true. Not her. It must have been an accident.
I texted her husband "What the fuck is going on?"
He responded, "I'm sorry, I wanted to call you, but I couldn't tell you over the phone."
An hour later my husband, toddler, and I were in the car headed north to spend the night with the family. The entire 1.5 hour drive all I could think was "Please be an accident and not what I think it is."
That night I spent hours talking to my brother-in-law as he caught me up on the last two years of their lives. How they'd been struggling with depression and all the losses she'd experienced in her life. How the demons finally had silenced the song bird. We cried in each other's arms. He knew I understood.
For weeks I would open the Candy Crush App on my phone and stare at her photo tile. No matter how many lives I gave her in the stupid game, I would never hear her laugh again or see her beautiful sparkling eyes.
Months later I deleted the app from my profile and phone. I couldn't take it any longer. The guilt crushed me. Why hadn't I reached out to her more? For heaven's sake, I wrote a book about my depression. The last time I'd seen and hugged her was when my daughter was born. For years she'd pestered me about when I would finally join the motherhood club. Her eyes twinkled with delight at the sight of me as a mother and holding my little girl.
The last heart-to-heart conversation took place in our back room. She held my girl and I quietly broke down. I told her I hated motherhood. She looked into my eyes and with the deepest sincerity said "Kids are a pain in the ass to raise and motherhood is hard. It sucks. That's why I got a tubal after my second."
Three years later, I look back at that statement and realize what she didn't say. When I look back further when her youngest was but a toddler, I remember her telling me of her struggles. Back then I had no idea what postpartum depression really was. I'd always associated it with the crazy women you saw on the news because they'd killed their children.
My friend loved her kids fiercely and I am 100% sure she would not have wanted to leave them. Just like a mother dying from cancer doesn't want to leave her family. Depression is like a cancer. It eats away all the joy and love in life and leaves a trail of unrelenting darkness and pain.
Having gone through depression (and still going for that matter), I see things differently. So many times, I've thought "If only I'd called her." I thought about it at least a thousand times the last two years of her time on this earth. But life happens. Baby cries. UPS man rings the doorbell. The cat pukes all over the bed. The smoke alarm goes off because the water on the stove you were warming for tea has completely evaporated and the pot is a nice shade of black....
But then I remember all the wonderful friends she already had around her in her town. Some of these ladies I've had the privilege of getting to know better in the wake of her death. She had an amazing support system of beautiful people. What makes me think me reaching out would have made a difference? The answer is I don't know and will never know. Beating myself about this won't lessen the pain or guilt.
I am only human and can only do so much. Sometimes all I can do is send a Candy Crush life and hope to make it to the next level.