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Letters to Ghosts

Dear Michelle,

I drove around all night looking for you in the sky, searching for some sort of sign that gives all this shit meaning. But nothing happened, so I sobbed all the way home. Listing off things I wish I could change, but can’t.

It bothers me that I never told you how beautiful you were, even growing your eyebrows out, wearing hiking boots and your hair pulled back in a ponytail. You had such a beautiful soul, despite what others and the voices in your head might have tried to convince you.

Looking through our texts is something I probably shouldn’t torture myself with, but fuck, I want to feel close to you again. I want to sit at your kitchen table and say nothing. I want to wake up from this nightmare. I want you to not be dead.

How could you leave me?

I ask that question to myself, then immediately feel guilty. Selfish. The anger comes and goes in waves, like all the other strong emotions of losing you.

You deserved so much more than you got in this life, my beautiful friend. It should not have taken your death for people to realize that and I am so sorry.

I’m sorry for the times you called or texted, and I ignored it. Something that weighs heavy on my mind since you reached out to me the night before you took your own life.

Hey. Whuddup? What are you doing now?” was all you said.

Why didn’t you say more?

Why?

I search and search for answers that I will never find and my heart aches in a way I have never known.

Reading your old journals and writings makes me remember how talented you were as a writer. It still blows me away, how vulnerable you allowed yourself to be to people. I always admired you for that and I know it connected us. It also reminds me how sick you were; how sick I still am.

Death is something I both desire and dread, a terrible side effect of mental illness. Something I have felt since I was only a child and could never explain. Do I want to die? Not really. Do I think about dying? All the time. It consumes me, as I know it consumed you. I try finding comfort in the idea of you being free of this burden and pain. Hopefully banging Chester Bennington and taking whiskey shots with Robin Williams.

I miss you, though. I miss the way you looked, smelled. I miss your voice, always reassuring me even when you weren’t so sure yourself.

How do I go on without you, Michelle? I feel so melodramatic, people barely even knew we were friends since neither of us felt the need to plaster it on social media. A huge reason why I moved back here was for you, driving 1900 miles across the country and you were the first person I told.

Often I wonder what if I had never found my way back to Washington. We never would have gotten close again and perhaps you would still be alive. A hard price to pay for the nights we spent in your backyard, talking about the lives we knew we would have. One day. Hopefully. Maybe.

My mind won’t quiet, but I find it hard to put how I feel into words. I find it hard to find the point of anything anymore, as it goes with depression, anxiety.

It is 11 pm, and I cannot sleep. So I type on a smartphone keyboard, something I have been trying to do more of these days. To honor you, in some ways. Or maybe just to selfishly make myself feel better.

But I refuse to allow your death to mean nothing, to allow it into the depths of me that don’t need undoing. You deserve to be remembered, to be missed, to be carried on.

So I write and I cry and I make it through yet another day.

Hope I make you proud.

XO,

e r l

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