A Rambling Letter to a Dead Girl
It’s been a year now. You know, it always feels like a lie when I call you Rosie. I probably used that name five times while you were alive. For the four years that I knew you, I always called you Blue. But it feels wrong to use that name now. I called you Blue because of your eyes, but your eyes are gone now. Your birth and death certificate that read “Roseann” still remain though. So now I call you Rosie. No matter what I call you, these days I curse that name at least once a week.
That’s not the right thing to say, is it? We’re supposed to speak well of the dead. We’re supposed to revere and respect their memory. But you know what, I think you lost that right because you chose to die, an intrinsically disrespectful act. It was disrespectful of your life, of your loved ones, of all the people who devoted time to try to keep you alive — and that’s not a short list.
I know that you had been planning to do this on the first weekend in May of 2014, but some coincidences delayed your plan for 18 months. But that doesn’t make it any better, to be honest. We both had these thoughts to end our lives for many, many years. We talked about it with each other and about how glad we were that neither of us ever made that choice. Now I know I never will make that choice because I have never know pain and anger like I did when you made the choice. And it was a choice, because after over two decades of living with those thoughts, you knew how to shut them up; you knew — more than most people — how to fight for life.
You know what I really never understood? Why didn’t you wait until after The Force Awakens came out? It was only ten days. You loved Star Wars, so why not delay ten days what you’d already delayed two decades? And, like, it was really good. I finally watched Star Wars, you know. All of them. Except Episode One because it’s the worst. Adam took me through it in Machete Order (4,5,2,3,6). By the time TFA was set to come out, I was thoroughly hyped.
Actually, I was watching Episode Six when you called. I ignored the calls for reasons that you well know. I checked the first voicemail and then texted some people to ask them to reach out to you. I imagine now that it was already too late. You called me because you knew I wouldn’t answer. It was when I left Adam’s that the sheriff called. Anyway, TFA was really good and I think you would have loved it. A female protagonist, a black jedi, and the adorable BB-8; you could have at least waited ten days, couldn’t you?
Sometimes I wonder. What if I had called you back? Or what if I had answered? I had just got a new phone, so your number wasn’t blocked anymore and it actually rang through. I ignored it and you know why. But I wonder, even though it would have been sick and co-dependent, if I had answered, would you still be alive? Because no matter how much you messed up my life, no matter how little respect I had left for you, I never wanted you dead. I wanted you to find happiness. I wanted you to find the peace in sobriety that I had found. I never wanted this. Not for you or for me or for your family or all the people that loved you.
I also wonder if it was a mistake to even say your name in the hallway. Should I have just let you keep walking back in April of 2014? Maybe you would have died a week later but it would have been a lot less painful for me and for all my friends who grew to love and care about you. I get so mad somedays because you know that friend of ours that we always referred to as our daughter? You killed yourself the same goddam day that her mom died a few years earlier. That was just shitty. And on Joe’s birthday. And he was one of the only damn people who was still putting up with you by then. Sometimes I feel responsible not because I didn’t answer that one call, but because I engaged in all the ones before that. I feel like more people suffered because of those extra 18 months.
You know what I never feel guilty for though? Before you left for Florida, you wanted to see me. You told me it would probably be your last chance to ever see me. I wasn’t ready and furthermore, I felt you were being a little melodramatic. We were both relatively young and if you had just stayed alive and got your shit together, I would have become ready and we could have seen each other again, maybe even make amends. But maybe you were already planning to do it. So that is on you.
I got some tattoos. They aren’t the ones we talked about but I really love them. I didn’t get those constellations; it just didn’t feel right anymore. On my left arm, I got a half sleeve all about science and humility, about all the things I can’t know. For example, I can’t know what was in your brain in those last few hours, especially since we hadn’t spoken in months. I can’t know what you were looking at when you died. I can’t know if those second two wordless voicemails were before or after you did it; maybe while you were dying. I also can’t know if there is an afterlife. Sometimes I wonder about that now though. And if so, what that looks like for you. But thinking about that just makes me furious, so I stop pretty quickly. I will never know all the digits of pi and I will never know what, if anything, comes after death. I will never understand all the complexities of how the eye works and I will never know how things would be different if I had made some different choices.
I work in theatre again. I actually work with the woman who created that play about those left behind by suicide. Remember? You didn’t want to come and I left angry because I identified with the dead people not the left behind. But I had a migraine and you met up with me for a minute after the show just to bring me some tylenol. Anyway, I now identify with those left behind. I identify with that anger because, man do I feel it. It was months — maybe about half a year — before I was able to not think about you and your choice every day or to think about you without feeling like Grawp had just punched me in the gut. I almost felt guilty when I was able to go more than a day without thinking about you. But honestly, even now it’s still not much longer than a day, if that.
Sometimes the thoughts are absurd and even morbid. Like “well, now at least she doesn’t have to worry about her student loans” or “lucky her, she got to die before we elected a reality TV star as our president.” Sometimes they are thoughts of anger over things big and small. Sometimes I get mad because, if you were going to kill yourself, why did you have to fight me over this piece of furniture or that kitchen utensil when we broke up? Or about how you could have at least paid me back some of the thousands of dollars you owed me before you died. You know what’s funny? I ended up needing a surgery about four months after you died, and the difference not covered by my insurance exactly equal the amount we had agreed you would pay me back.
About three months before you finally did it, I actually started thinking about how I was going to feel if you did. I hoped you wouldn’t but I was pretty sure you would. I knew it was coming and by then, I had done everything I could. So I started to think about what it was going to feel like to get the call. I’ll tell you this much: I really had no idea. Even my grand and powerful imagination could not prepare me for the anger, sadness, helplessness, powerlessness, rage, fear, despair and pain that would come when I turned my phone on during my break at work to a barrage of voicemails and texts that they found your body. The waves of it. Never the same emotion or the same combinations. Sometimes I would barely find my footing only to have another wave knock me face first into the sand.
Sometimes, I almost feel relief — for you and for me. I feel relieved that I don’t have to wait for that call anymore. I already got it. I feel relieved that, knowing what it’s like to have a brain yelling at you to kill yourself daily for decades, you no longer have that voice. But those thoughts are rare. More often I’m just angry. You don’t have any control over whether you are born or not, but once you’re here it’s your responsibility to fight like hell to stay alive.
I’ve been having dreams the last few months. In all of them you are alive but also in all of them, we all know you were presumed dead. So you’ve come back revealing it was a hoax or that you were kidnapped or that someone else’s body was confused with yours and you were a Jane Doe in a hospital in Florida for months. Most often though, it’s an elaborate ruse created and executed by you to accomplish ill-intentioned objectives. I guess this shows how little respect I have left for you. My stress dreams involve you being manipulative and dishonest. They are never joyful dreams as we discover that you aren’t actually dead. They are always painful.
Maybe it’s good you aren’t alive anymore. You’d be appalled by the last year. Other than The Force Awakens, not many good things have happened. Alan Rickman, David Bowie and Leonard Cohen died. I know you loved them all quite a bit. The country elected an idiotic fascist. This week, Ohio State Legislators passed the Heartbeat bill and they’re fixing to pass the 20 week ban too. You might have liked Pokemon Go actually, but in the end we all got kind of burnt out on it.
My long, rambling point is this: you made a terrible choice. But unlike all the terrible choices we can make in life, this is the only one you don’t have to deal with the consequences of. No, you left that to us. You left that to people who loved you. People who saw you every day. People who hadn’t seen you in years. People who had sacrificed so much before to prevent this very thing. While we went about burying your body, you buried us in the consequences of one, selfish choice.
I don’t know what else to say or how to sign off. I think I might still love you, I think that might never totally go away. But if I’m to be honest, I rarely feel that love, more often it’s hate. I think you have to love someone before you can fully hate them. So I’ll say this. I’m still here, still fighting, still growing. I am living life as fully as I can. You tried to bury me with your choice but you know the saying. You didn’t know I was a seed.