In Mir-moriam: A Reflection on a Fallen Friend

In Jewish tradition, it is said that each of us has seven soulmates that we meet throughout our lives. Tonight, I lost one of mine. My dear friend and frequent co-conspirator, Miriam Esther Goldman, took her own life in a long-fought battle with trauma, depression, and emotional abuse. A writer by trade, Miriam always had the right words to say in any given situation, so in her memory, this will be my attempt to do her justice.

Miriam and I met at a vocal workshop we both took my first semester in college, and right away she made an impression on me. Here was this obviously insecure, nervous person, and yet when she opened her mouth to sing, out erupted this powerful, operatic soprano voice that just blew me away. We talked a little bit after the workshop, but other than that, she was just “that girl with the big voice” for a while. I would see her in and out of the music department, and we had some of the same friends, but I wouldn’t get to experience Miriam in her true glory until the next year. She had come out to herself as gay by this point, and she started attending meeting of the LGBTQ Alliance, and we started hanging out more. At this point, I would learn of her love of delicious food, especially Southern barbecue, her immense head for trivia, and her lifelong passion for the many books in the Oz universe. The more layers Miriam began to peel away, the more interesting she became, and the more I wanted to be her friend.

The next year saw our budding friendship truly blossom, as we (along with our other close friend, Daniel) became devoted players of Ingress, and would spend our sleepless nights traipsing up and down campus talking strategy and finding new places to explore to expand the playing field. This was also the time when I had my falling-out with the LGBTQ Alliance and the many friends I had made in that group, and I needed an excuse not to be in my room, lest I become alone with my distraught thoughts for too long. Ingress, and the many adventures I had with Miriam and Daniel while playing it, quite possibly helped save my life when things were looking bleak for me — a favor I wish I could have been able to return.

The following year, Miriam and I lived together, along with Daniel and several of our other close friends, and it was truly one of the best years of my life. We had so much fun together, and the adventures never stopped, but when push came to shove, we were always there to support each other through whatever crises we were going through at the time. The six of us had become a surrogate family for each other, able to share our highest highs and collectively combat the lows that were sure to follow. This familial bond lasted long after graduation, and we still feel it to this day. I’m sure that bond will carry those of us who survive through this trying time, and will grow even stronger with this loss.

This past June, Miriam visited me in my small, one-bedroom apartment in Brighton, and while it was great at first, as time went on, it became harder and harder. She was going through a particularly rough time and so was I, and the tight confines just made it even harder for us to support each other the way we used to. When she left my apartment in July, I was wracked with guilt, feeling like I had broken a promise to her to keep her safe and protected. I felt like I had just made everything worse. Honestly, I’m battling these feelings in this very moment. I just wish I could have done something more, though I know I did everything I could for her.

To Miriam: I’m sorry for everything you went through. Your life was never easy, but you managed to find the good in everyone you met — a trait I will always admire. You lived for your friends and your family of choice, and changed all of their, nay, our lives for the better. I will always cherish the memories we shared, from our meeting at that fateful vocal workshop to queer trivia nights at the Stein to our many late nights playing Ingress or watching anime and toku. Also, thank you for letting me introduce you to the world of tokusatsu. You shared so many of your passions with me, and I was more than glad to return that favor. You were the Luka to my Hakase, the Kouta to my Micchi, the Baloo to my Bagheera. I don’t know what I’m going to do without your love and support in my life, but I am immensely glad that I got to share the past six years with you. I will cherish our friendship always.

To whoever reads this: Thank you for listening to me. This was hard for me to write, but I know I had to do this. If you or anyone you know is struggling with mental illness the way Miriam did, I implore you to seek whatever support you can. From the Trevor Project to Samaritans to home-grown outpatient programs like Triangle, anything can help. And as for me, I am going to try to live my life as Miriam would have wanted me to — proudly, beautifully, adventurously, and authentically.