By Abigail Rommel
Letter to any readers that might stumble upon this:
I write this antidote in present tense because of how current the story still feels to me, no matter how long ago it was.
It’s Sunday night, and I can’t sleep, which rarely happens. But, the A.C. is out, so I’m not surprised. I decided to perform my can’t-sleep ritual of sifting through my friend list on Facebook, and creeping on the profiles of each person I wonder, “What happened to so-and-so.” It’s good fun, and it settles my racing mind.
This time, I scrolled and saw a friend who I haven’t seen in ages—last year. For most, that’s not long at all, but then it suddenly dawns on me that it feels like forever because it is forever.
And now, in this stupid attempt to fall asleep, I’m dry heaving. I am crying. I am crying for her, crying for me, crying for her family, crying so hard I can’t see or breathe. I’m trying to be quiet, but my attempts are pretty meek, and I’m letting the tears drown any rational inch of my conscious-mind from pulling me out of this suffocating sea of tears. I finally crash. I don’t know how, and I don’t even know when.
At some point, I wake up in the middle of the night with the remnants of a lump in my throat, it feels like a metallic bruise, and a dry mouth. I’m obviously dehydrated, so I go to the kitchen for some water.
And, this, this is the stupid part. I’m getting the water, and somehow I make a vague connection between my glass of filtered-city water and her. The whole thing starts again. In fact, I cry ten times harder now, but at least I have water. Right? Ha.
I start crying about the fact that I’m crying. I start crying about how this is selfish of me because it wasn’t my battle. I start crying wondering if the same thing will happen to another friend, if it’s just the inevitable, if it’ll happen to me. Who is next?
I cry. I cry. And she’s dead. There’s nothing more to say, but I want to stop it.
I used to think of what happened to her as inevitable. I thought of her severe depression as a terminal illness. And, in some ways I still do. But, all I want is for it all to be reversed. She fought a good fight, she really did. But she couldn’t have if she didn’t have the family that she had.
I guess I have an “ask” of all of you. I ask you to remember her.
She doesn’t need to be revealed, the story isn’t about specifics. I want you to remember who “she” would be to you. The pain you experience is awful, and I don’t want you to have a full on episode like I did, but I want you to remember her. Remember how much you care because grief is experienced by the lives left behind whom cared. Grief isn’t experienced by a professor who thought she had a lot of absences and was using mental health as an excuse to get out of school. Grief is an experience, as awful as it may be, that only those humbled by her spirit get to have.
Abigail Rommel (Big Gail) likes long walks anywhere but a sandy beach and intends to rule the world one of these days. Also, she is fluent in Sarcasm and proficient in Pig Latin. She is currently in recovery from commenting on every news article about Trump she sees in her news feed. If you wish to reach her, it may be difficult because she tends to let her inbox fill up, until she reaches 100 unread messages. But, she will respond, eventually.