CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- I lost a friend to suicide once. She had been sick, on and off, for a while, and during her illness, suffered losses the likes of which few could've endured. It became too much. She grew tired of fighting and left.
Even though I tried to understand why she did what she did, I was still angry. She was this clever and efficient person, someone who, once she made up her mind, was near impossible to stop.
It was no different with death. Once she decided she wanted to die, she was determined to do so on her own terms. She wasn't shy or discreet about what she was planning. She even threw herself a going-away party.
There was no persuading her to stay. No intervention her friends and family and I didn't explore or attempt. She wanted out, and getting out was one of the many mountains she moved.
Over the weekend, I ran across some photos and a ring that she gave me, and it started me wondering if I wasn't selfish for wanting her to stay, and being angry when she didn't.
For months after she died, I experienced this daily void. I'd run across something I knew would make her laugh and I'd grab the phone to call her and have half the numbers dialed before it would hit me again. I missed her, but it was more than that. I was mad over what she was missing -- all these things I knew would've made her laugh, made her happy, interested her.
I could understand her wanting not to hurt anymore, but damn it -- it was like she thumbed her nose at us, saying we weren't worth her discomfort. The message I got from her actions was that she didn't love us enough, because if she had, she would've stayed. She would've mustered the resolve to stick it out.
But we weren't enough, so she didn't.
As I was typing the words in the sentence directly above this one, I received an email from my friend, Susan Crumley. I hadn't spoken with Susan in a few days or told her what I was writing about, so the timing of what she sent was odd. It was a story about what the dying want the living to know.