I was walking from my accounting class to government. It was early January and we were bundled in our coats hurrying to get to class. As I did nearly every day, I met up with 1 of my 3 closest friends. Normally we had fun conversations during our walk. This time our pace slowed. He wouldn't speak. His head was hanging down. I tried to ask what was up since this was not at all typical. He just mumbled and wouldn't really say. We parted ways at the Arts building and I never saw him again. If that building still existed I could show you the exact spot I was standing and who was standing by, almost giddy with excitement to see my reaction to the news.... my closest male friend shot himself. It was noisy in that room, but it was like a movie where everything around me went silent. And I felt so mad at those people who were standing there waiting for my reaction. Are you kidding me? I hear something so horrid and you have to be there like a TMZ reporter wanting to get the scoop? Clearly, over 21 years later it still irritates me.
At his funeral I couldn't sit still. My hands and knees wouldn't stop shaking. I remember my program falling to the ground and trying to reach down to pick it up. And I recall looking around at all of the students in attendance. And again I was so mad.
I remembered the conversations we had not long before he took his own life. We were up all night laying on the floor in my grandparent's living room and he was venting about how mean all the "popular" kids were to him. They had gone to school together forever and he was so frustrated with how fake they were to him and how he suddenly didn't exist, yet a while ago they were all friends. I suppose that is normal. In grade school everybody gets along. At our high school? Ugh, the groups.... I totally understood what he was saying. And now the exact names he said to me were there supposedly sad. I say "supposedly" because that's how high school senior Ronda felt... that they were there to be seen versus mourn.
Did I understand how much this bothered him? I guess not. Before we met I thought he was a freak and he called me an ice princess. Our teacher forced us to sit next to each other which was mortifying. Our first assignment was to merge DNA and make a baby. Who knew that this was what would cause us to immediately bond with each other. What if our baby had a mono brow?? No! We can't let that happen. We will change the DNA!! From that project on we were fast friends. We would talk on the phone for hours at a time. School stuff. Crushes. What will we do next weekend. Venting about home life. The norm. Looking back, maybe there were more signs, but it's not like suicide is the standard thing a high school girl things her dear friend would be considering.
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It was a Saturday that I was on a road trip with my mom and aunt to meet my bridesmaids and buy my wedding dress. I've already written about this in detail, so I'm glossing over it now.
On the way up she told us that directions for her funeral and what she wanted done were on her refrigerator. She told us what she wanted in her casket with her. There were a few other instructions as well. We laughed it off telling her she was being silly and she would be fine if she follows doctor's orders. After all the conversations we had, I remember a few distinct moments where I paused to remember them well because I had a feeling it would never happen again. When she left my house and have me the biggest wave and happiest smile, I memorized it. I had a gut feeling I would never see her again. Tuesday morning, as I followed along on the phone and social media, my aunt took her own life the same way my friend did.
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I see all this talk about 13 Reasons Why. People for it. People against it. I had already written in my head my response. I decided that nobody will care about my opinion if it is different from theirs. I didn't take the attitude of having a strong opinion against it without ever watching it or reading the book, as I have seen some do. I didn't even watch it for any sort of reason other than interest because it was all over Facebook and I was heading to bed with my laptop and Netflix. It showed up, I recognized the title, the subject matter intrigued me given my experiences, so I watched. And I couldn't stop. I thought it was quite creative how it was done and the small details I would pick up on waiting for them to rear their ugly head later on. I've read that some think this sensationalizes suicide. That if you commit suicide people will glamorize you after. Really? They got that from watching this? I saw it as people hating this girl after she died. Certainly not saying she was a beautiful, wonderful person. And if you make it through the end and episode 13 ... you tell me exactly what you saw that made suicide glamorous, Painful. Lonely. Sad. Deliberate. Cold. None of this seems appealing. I cried. I could barely watch, but I forced myself to so I could live in that moment with the character, and live in that moment with my friend and aunt. I hugged my baby tight. I saw nothing of glamour or sensationalism in this. If anything, maybe this show will help people see that you don't always see someone considering suicide as a person walking around every day looking depressed. They could appear on the outside to be happy and dealing with life. But there might be signs. And MAYBE you can help them or guide them to help. Maybe you can't. Maybe this show will show someone that suicide isn't the best or only answer. Maybe it will show someone considering suicide how much if affects the family and close friends of someone that takes their own life. Does suicide change things in the lives of those closest to the person? Oh heck yes.
I've deleted most of my opinions because I have no desire for debate. I've heard the news of suicide 3 times now. Twice I had to tell my mom. Once, she told me. I know exactly when and where I was for all 3 and the quiet, numb feeling that happens when you hear it. I figure if I go off too long on the subject then I'll be told how wrong I am and blah blah blah. Everyone is entitled to their opinion and feeling. My opinion is that this is a really good show. It gets you thinking. That's a good thing. It is getting people talking. That's a good thing. If it helps anyone decide to get help, or helps someone see that their loved one needs help... this is a good thing.
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