I don't remember exactly when Samantha and I met but it was in middle school sometime and it was love at first sight. We became fast friends and best friends. We were silly and rebellious and she was one of my life's soulmates. At 14 with nothing really to do and nowhere to go, we would spend hours walking around her neighborhood at night, talking, smoking cigarettes and making each other laugh. We were both fiercely loyal and passionately opinionated. She was like a sister to me. It was her and I against the world.
The thing was, Samantha was sad. She wasn't sad all the time, in fact when she was happy, she was exuberantly happy. Her happiness was intoxicating because it was so wild and fun and free. When the darkness did come (and it always did), it was like a heavy curtain- it fell fast and hard. At 13 and 14, I wasn't very well equipped to deal with it but took it on as best as I could and tried to just do or be whatever she needed at the time. I didn't understand it except to know that she had medicine for it but that it clearly didn't work.
Her father worked for an oil and gas company and they moved away to Singapore and then to Jakarta. We wrote diligently. The letters are long and dense like mini novels of teenage angst and struggle. When I felt overwhelmed by the sadness, I would drift away towards some of my other friends. It was the only thing I knew to do to save my own sanity. In the deepest part of my heart, I knew she would kill herself someday. I hoped that it might be different and I tried to make her happy. Of course that's impossible because no one can make anyone else happy but try telling that to my 16 year old self.
She would look to me sometimes with heartbroken eyes as if to say, "why can't you fix this?". She would get mad at me and be deeply hurt when I would drift away. She took it as abandonment. She never realized that she was always so fully in my heart that, even today, thirty something years later that I still dream about her. The dreams are joyous because it's always something like she never really died and that she was just off somewhere and now she's back, we laugh and talk and have so much fun together. Waking up from that is painful.
She killed herself when I was 19. I visit her grave regularly and I talk to her in my mind during intense moments. It's always the same feeling, you should be here with me. She left and, in doing so, she took away that story. The one where her and I traverse this shit together. It makes me angry. In better moments I know that she couldn't have done this life with me. She tried. Her body just wasn't built to withstand it and it didn't have anything to do with me.
Recently, I stumbled upon this Ted talk by Kevin Briggs. It's amazing. So much of what he said connected with my own feelings about what happened with Sam. The thing that shook me to the core was when he talked about the 1% of people that survive their Golden Gate bridge suicide attempt. He said that the minute they let go of the rail, they regretted it. It leaves me devastated asking that same question to Sam...when the final moments were upon you and you felt it slipping away, did you regret it?
I prefer to think that when she left she slipped out of a very uncomfortable body, jumped the sinking ship and dissolving into pure energy. I like to think that her energy runs through me and I call upon it when things get hard. Back in middle school, she gave me this plastic card that reads, "When the going gets tough, the tough get going". She signed it on the back with out little secret symbol and her trademark lightning bolt "S" at the beginning of her name. It's been in my wallet ever since. Looking at that little card helps me channel my own resiliency when the going gets tough. Maybe in the end, she didn't actually take away the story, maybe she just helped write mine differently?
This blog post came across my path recently and I love it too. Maybe you have a story like mine and Sam's? I hope mine, Eden and Kevin's story helps you if you do. Love and light to you and yours.