....while you were busy posting selfies on Facebook, someone chose to leave this world.
....as you were counting up the reasons why you were too busy to be there for anybody else, someone went out and bought a gun.
....when you weren't looking, your best friend was counting up pills to see if there were enough yet.
....in between tweets you twatted and texts you thumbed out to people you barely see in the flesh, someone else was writing our their will.
In January I lost my cousin to suicide. It didn't escape me that it could have been me, could have been my family reacting to the loss. I don't think my uncle has spoken to anyone in the family about it to this day. It brought back all the guilt of my own father's panic attacks that began the night he didn't know if I was alive or dead.
Six months ago, one of my best friends tried to shoot herself after she was brutally raped and nearly killed. I am the only person she's told about her attempt. She is the only friend I've ever talked about any of my suicidal past with. But despite what she has so bravely shared with me, I cannot bring myself to trust (her? me?) or to let out any more than about 5% of my own story. I cannot figure out how to swallow the stigma or to own that portion of my life.
And it doesn't end there: Several months ago, my dad lost a coworker to suicide. Today, someone at my agency shared that they'd survived multiple suicide attempts as a teenager. Over the past couple of years, several kids in our community have ended their own lives.
Sometimes it just feels like it's everywhere, and all the time, and too much. Sometimes I feel less alone and less ashamed of the secrets I hide when I realize how many other people have struggled (or are struggling). And then other times I just want to flat-out disown my past and figure out how to have some magic do-over.
It infuriates me when people remark that suicide is a "selfish" choice. Only someone so self-absorbed as to be primarily concerned with how another's death affects THEM would pick that word out of all the possible adjectives to describe a self-annihilating act. Those are the kind of people who lack the empathy required to imagine what it is like to feel undeserving of life. They are the same people who would've never seen it coming....because they aren't really tuned into anyone else's pain to begin with.
And is suicide an accusation? "You were not there for me."
Or a statement? "I do not matter."
A question? "Will this finally end my pain?"
Or an answer, when there are none.
And each time, and forever, each death will be mine.
And always, a question: what have I done with the life I chose to keep living?
And beneath that...the lingering twinge of envy...for their battle is over.