I sit here today wondering what to think, what to write, how to move... But I find myself literally frozen... I found out last night that one of my beloved friends Emily passed away on Friday. My little Em. The beautiful soul who helped keep me sane and happy through a few of the hardest months of both of our lives. The shock of that loss was mixed with the feeling of fear and apprehension. Em would be the second of my CFC Family who has passed away in the last 6 months and the third person from my inner circle of family to pass away or to have the anniversry of their passing take place in the last 10 days.
Losing Emily was a loss that hit so strong, so fresh, I find it hard to breathe; my mind going every which direction wondering what happened or whether there was anything or anyone who could have helped her. My heart broke once again this morning as I was able to glean some information from her family. My darling Emily ended her life, overdosing on perscriptions. The outcome that I had feared the most.
This took me back to our time together at The Mansion. All the countless hours we would spend together chatting on the unit, chatting during meals while the rest of the group played games, talking through FNS movies on the back couch. Talking about the ups and downs of treatment, recapping some of the crazy drama moments and laughing until other girls or staff would ask us to quiet down... Talking about our battles, our deamons, all of the things that we felt the world would strike us down should they know. Emily was the first person I connected to during that stay. She had tried to chat with me a little, when I first got there; but I pushed everyone out, unintentionally intimidating them while trying to hide with my own pain... Pain that Emily saw right through. Our first true bonding moment was while I was on Behavioral Refocus near the end of my first week... I came back from a group and noticed a pink Post-it note stuck to the side of my wheelchair. In the cutest, perfect little penmenship was a note from Em; telling me that I wasn't in this alone, that even if we couldn't talk that we could still support each other in silence...
That moment started our little rule-breaking tradition of passing notes to each other while I was on Behavioral and Caution and then later as she spent some time in similar "therapeutic silence." I remember coming back to the spot at the Behavioral desk where I had a stack of papers waiting for me. At first I thought it was yet another hefty assignment from W (as that would make that day like any other I spent in treatment) but saw that it was Emily's Autobiography. Attached to it was a note from her saying that she was scared to read auto to the group and wanting to know if I would be willing to read it for her. That was it... She'd broken through my 9 foot walls and made it into my heart... and trust me, once you're in, you never leave.
Emily and I were similar in a lot of ways; so we both could help the other out when we could see them getting stuck. She is shy, quiet and withdrawn when you meet her... But once she felt like she could maybe let you in, she start to show more and more moments of that bright, bubbly, smart, hilarious and caring young woman that you just can't help but to love.
Sitting here now, after she has gone... I feel broken. In front of me I have two letters staring back at me from the comforter on my bed. On the left sits the letter that she wrote to me to read after I had discharged. A letter I have read several times in the last few days; bringing me smiles, giggles, tears and memories... A letter that reminds me of all that we had gone through together as friends... She ended the letter by calling me her "Big Sis," which are big shoes to fill as she had lost hers to illness not long before. We both just knew we were going to be friends for the rest of our lives. I may dare to say that I got closer to Em than I had to almost anyone I had ever met at The Mansion (and I've been around a lot).
The paper on the right sits the letter that I wrote for Emily; intended to be given to her the day she left, a small gift for her to open after she had journeyed home. A letter that obviously never made it to her as it still sits in front of me. I kept forgetting to bring it as the time got closer and then after she had left, I made a new promise to send it to her later and just keep talking to her and telling her all the things that I wrote...All the things that I wanted her to remember.
A promise that I can no longer keep.
We kept in touch on and off after discharge, but we hadn't really been as close as we'd planned. I was trying to stay strong and hide my struggles from her; while at the same time, I knew she was trying to do the same.
It makes me wonder...
Wonder, if there was anything that I missed. Anything that I could have done. Em and I also shared the struggle known as doubt. We talked a lot about feeling inadequate, acknowledging our desires to change and make it, but then doubting our ability to actually succeed. We had talked about the option of death, both of us being a voice of reason against it to the other. Eventually we had just promised that we would never follow through with such a decision, if for no other reason, so that neither of us would have to deal with having to lose the other.
And I feel its as though I have done something wrong. That there are 2 people in a friendship and 2 of us who made that pact... Not that I would ever claim to be God or to have the ability to choose for someone... But more that I feel as though I fell short of my duty as "Big Sis" and friend.
I probably could go on forever. But I guess this is me trying to make heads or tails of it all. So... To my dear sweet Emily, I would never had expected that I would've had to say goodbye to you. This seems to unreal to me. You were such a fighter. You had to fight with your eating disorder and your depression for so long. And as hard as it got and as hopeless as it seemed, you kept going. You had a silent strength that was able to keep you alive and fighting into your young adult years. I truly believe in the sentiment that the Lord places people in our lives at specific times so that we can learn from each other and to feel His love for us, through the love of another. I know that I can speak for every person that has met you, especially those of us who had the honor of being with you at The Mansion, when I say that you have forever touched each of our lives. I honestly don't know if there is a more pure, sweet and caring person on this Earth. Your presence was so calm and gentile. And even if your voice wasn't the loudest in the room; when you spoke, people would listen. You had to go through so much in your life and it is amazing to see how far you took it. Many people would have given up long before, and there was a lot of fear within you, but you kept holding on to whatever form of hope you could find and kept pushing forward with faith. I am so proud and honored to have met you and to have had the privilege to see the real you. I had all but given myself the life sentence of loneliness; when you came along and taught me that I still have it in me to be a good friend. I miss you so much Em. I know that I didn't come through for you as much as you deserved. But I will make another promise to you now... That you will never be forgotten. That I will do everything that I can to love as much and as openly as you did. To look to the Lord to find strength, and to remember that each of us is invaluable and irreplaceable. My heart aches to think and know how much you were hurting and how you felt on Friday night. Its an unnameable type of anguish that I wouldn't ever want you to feel. I wish you were here to read all of the notes and memories that us girls are writing for and about you. We love you. We miss you. We are all reconnecting through phone calls and emails and texts, reminding each other of how much we mean to each other... Not wanting to lose the opportunity to say, one more time that I love you, and making new commitments to each other to fight. Fight for ourselves and fight in your honor. While I am so grateful that we are finding good and a sense of motivation and purpose from this, I wish we didn't have to lose you to start. You once told me that when you write "...." it signifies all the feelings and words that you can't seem to confine to a line on a page. That it is full of all the understanding and love that you have stumbled into for that moment... I pray that you are finally able to rest. That your mind is quiet, your heart is still; that you are able to be with your sister and then to be a watchful angel over us all. You short life was a wonderful miracle. And it will be an example to many who follow. You are with me forever Em Till we meet again ....