A few years ago, a friend of mine killed herself. She had moved away several years before that, so we weren't close at the time. And before that, we had been friends, but never the kind of friends that strip their conversations down to brass tacks. When I thought of her, I thought of a glorious girl, wild on one edge and sad on the other, but never so wild or so sad that I could suspect the depth of either. I guess I didn't know her well at all.
I was sad when I found out, very sad, but it faded because I didn't like to think about it and, as I've said, I discovered that I didn't know her well. I was unfamiliar with a world in which this could happen, and unfamiliar with the person who could make it so. The unfamiliarity and incomprehension didn't lessen the sadness, but they made me want to turn away from it as quickly as possible, to put it away in a box, to not examine or look at it because the alternative--the realization that the stock of memories that I already had of her was it, finite, closed off from any possibility of change or addition--was a horror that I wanted to refuse.
It's entirely possible that even if she were still alive I would never have seen her again, that I would have only run across postings on Facebook or vague mentions from mutual friends or old photographs of parties that would make me smile and then forget and go about my day.
But, I will definitely never see her again and she does not go about doing things, living things that I will never hear about. The thought has emerged, unexpectedly, several times this year. It bobs to the surface from whatever depth it normally lurks at. It feels like something seizing the inside of my skin.
A few days ago, someone I know was skittering around the subject of forcing the end. "If this happens," they said, "I will have no life. And if I have no life, I won't want it anyway." I don't think they were serious, even though their situation is honestly a long, almost inevitable corridor of hardship and unhappiness. I tried to say something to soothe and calm, but I could barely look them in the eye. I am a coward who shrivels before bleakness and desperation. The thought of coming across the end of hope is more than I can understand or even admit to the possibility of. It makes me incredibly sad.