I know that nobody is going to reblog this with my super long note on it (and in any case, no one cares), but I just wanted to take the time to remember someone who meant a lot to me and isn’t here anymore, because this cause is so, so important to me. Last year, on March 21st, 2012, my best friend Mariah committed suicide. She’d been struggling with depression and chronic illness (lupus) for a long time, and it finally took her at the age of eighteen. We met online when she was fourteen and I was sixteen, and we were best friends for over four years. When she was reading Romeo and Juliet in school, I taught her how to play chess by making the white players the Capulets, and the black players the Montagues (she beat me on our second game); she taught me how to download and install things onto my computer (believe it or not, I hadn’t quite mastered that yet by the age of sixteen..). Even though I lived in Canada and she lived in the United States, we used to talk on the phone every single day. Sometimes I even ignored calls from my boyfriend so I could talk to her. Some of the time, we did productive things, like help each other with homework; some of the time, we would play games together on the phone, like Key Quest on Neopets, or Pokemon Snap on N64, or the aforementioned chess; but always we would laugh, and just really enjoyed each other’s company. I genuinely believe that I’ve never been better understood or more loved by a friend in my entire life. In August 2010, when she was sixteen and I was nineteen, her parents drove the ten-hour drive from Pennsylvania to my house in Ontario, and we met for the first time. She spend ten days here, and it was amazing. It was everything I ever wanted it to be. We laughed, we cried, we got drunk illegally together and played Where’s Waldo, we played with my pet rats, we went to museums and movies together, and went to the art store and got a bunch of supplies to make matching friendship collages with. When she went home at the end of those ten days, she left with me feeling like our relationship couldn’t possibly get any better, or stronger. I just knew that we were going to last forever.
Over the next two years, our relationship was as strong as ever, but I noticed a gradual decline in her near the middle of 2011. She was struggling with normal things, like self-esteem issues, boyfriend troubles, and feeling overwhelmed in her new place at university; but with her predisposition toward being depressed, she seemed to not have the ability to cope like a healthy person would. University broke her, and she returned home, a shell of her former self. Within two months of her return home, she attempted suicide for the first time; I later found out that she’d tried to call me at 1:00 in the morning and, when I didn’t answer, called her ex-boyfriend instead, who listened on the phone as she faded away and chose not to call an ambulance. Her brother found her twenty minutes later, and he saved her life that day. We all thought she was going to get better.
Her insurance would only pay for two days - two days - in the hospital, and her family could only afford another week. When she got out, they couldn’t even afford her medication because insurance refused to pay for it. Every time she started to feel herself slipping again, she would call me and I would do my best to make her laugh, and promise her that better days were coming, she just had to stay strong. After all, who could understand better than me - not just her best friend, but someone who had struggled with mental illness herself, and who was currently on disability for it? But I failed, and it wasn’t enough.
On March 21st, at 3:00 PM, I wasn’t even thinking of Mariah. I was worrying about my chemistry test coming up that afternoon, the first test that I’d had since returning to school from my five-year hiatus to try and recover from my own battles against mental illness. I was desperately attempting to get in some last-minute cramming when I saw an odd long-distance number on my phone; but, recognizing the last name (though I was a bit baffled), I picked up the phone. It was one of her ex-boyfriends, and I knew immediately that she was gone. I didn’t even hear him tell me. I just said, “oh”, and I hung up the phone. I don’t even know how I had the presence of mind to go to school and get an A that day, because my life had instantly and irrevocably changed at that moment. This sounds super cliche, but a part of me died with her that day, and I’ve never been the same since then. I didn’t just lose my best friend: I lost my partner in crime, my soft place to fall, my confidante, my cheerleader. I lost my unfailing optimism that everything would get better eventually.
Losing a friend, a family member, a sibling, a parent, an acquaintance, a classmate - anyone - to suicide is one of the most life-changing events that a person can experience. It’s not the same as losing someone to cancer, or to a drunk driving accident. People often asked me, in the days that followed, with an edge of concern in their voice - did I blame myself? Was I thinking of trying to hurt myself, too? No, I answered every single time. I didn’t want to die. I wanted to live twice as long, for both of us. To live out the dreams that both of us wanted to accomplish, though there is only one of us left. Her Tumblr blog, reilareila, is still up, and I visit it every single time I’m on Tumblr.
This is a picture of me and Mariah when we met in August 2010. To some people, this might look like the face of a coward. To me, this is the face of a girl who went out of her way to make feel better even when she was suffering so much that she just couldn’t take it anymore. This is the face of one of the strongest people I’ve ever known. The tattoo of a chess piece on my ankle is a testament to the part of her that’s still left in the world.
I’m really sorry if this is clogging up everyone’s Tumblr feeds, but I HAD to say this. I had to. This is the first and last time that I will ever talk about this to anybody.
Edit: Right after I posted this, an obscure song by my favorite band came on TV. The chorus ends with, “In your darkest hour, you strike gold”. I’m 100% sure that she’s still here with me, in some way.