On June 4, 2016 I stood on some rocks in St. Elizabeth.
The wild sea was in the background, goaded by the jagged, hidden rocks beneath into throwing up its frilly frock in protest: when would it get to roll rampant over the shoreline, then sweep back out towards the horizon, carrying all it kissed in its wake? Why was it held hostage here in the churning shallows?
I stood watching its temper tantrum with something like awe. I tried a thousand times to take a picture of my feet, nicely pedicured, standing there on the rocks but the camera wouldn’t work. Or maybe it was just my hands.
I glanced behind me, where somewhere my friends and husband sat blithely awaiting my return with no idea of the importance of this reunion between me, rock and sea.
Eight years earlier, I had stood on those same rocks, staring into that same angry sea. Knowing it had come for me. And that I was ready.
Eight years ago, I had arrived at the end of my 2 year death timeline.
Eight years ago, I stood staring into the depths of an angry ocean, the sea its own siren call. Yes, I thought. She understands me. We understand each other. We belong together.
Eight years ago, the exact circle of friends who awaited me that day had also been waiting for me then, seat saved for the friend who had surely just slipped out to the bathroom, or for some water.
Eight years ago, unbeknownst to them, they each had an envelope with their names on it.
Buried in my drawer (but not so far they couldn’t soon be found) were stacks and stacks of envelopes, names written in careful curls and swoops. Even in that I was meticulous: I wanted the whimsy and the art, the wit and the word-craft all to be present in each letter, lovingly written even amidst the steel resolve that I had to leave. I wrote that it just had to be. That it hurt too much to stay. That I loved loving and laughing with them, but that afterwards, the pain always cut too deep. That it was like the acid-burn of frozen fingers once the ice stopped feeling good.
That it wasn’t them. It was me. And this was just better for everyone.
The letter to the smiling man with dimples was the hardest. What words could I write to truly absolve him of living through his girlfriend’s death? Still, he had a letter with his name on it. With careful curls and swoops.
Eight years ago, I knew the sea was unpredictable and many were the souls sat hidden within Treasure Beach’s briny belly. I knew no one could be blamed. I knew it was time.
Yet somehow, against all odds… I stood on those exact same rocks 2 weeks ago. They hadn’t changed, but I had. I had survived that day on the rocks. I married that dimpled man. I had his children. I switched jobs, then switched jobs again. I went back to school for my postgraduate degree. I grew. I forgave some pretty major events in my life. I healed.
I laughed. I loved. I released.
On June 4, 2016 I stood on some rocks in St Elizabeth.
Feet planted. Heart full. Back straight. Hope restored.
And I released the last traces of that ghost into the sea. I watched the tide race back out, carrying her towards the horizon and I smiled.
On June 4, 2016 I was officially, FINALLY, free.
On June 10, 2016 we lost another one.
Depression isn’t ‘sadness’. There is nothing as simple as ‘snapping out of it.’ Be patient and steadfast with those you know suffering from it. Be gentle and kind with the world in general: you brush against many more than you could possibly imagine. Depression presents in a thousand different ways.
In my case, I was surrounded by love. I never doubted that I was loved. But depression insulated me from being able to reach back out to the hands so desperately stretched out towards me. I’ll never stop feeling such gratitude for those who stood unflinchingly by me, even when not aware or sure of what was happening or why.
Michelle, I believe you knew you were loved. I believe you knew people would listen. I think maybe you were held silent hostage by the depths of your depression. You’ll never know how desperately we wish we’d had that breakthrough with you. It’s hard not to wonder what anyone could have done or said differently. It’s hard to let this go.
You’re still so loved. You’re still so precious. It’s just that now we must add ” deeply missed” as well. Goodbye curly-haired music-lover with the Bambi eyes. RIP Footie.
I add this grief to my shelf, your name to my memorial. I send your name softly cross the sea.
And I will walk gently along shorelines and cliff sides in case there’s a soul looking for a reason to look away.
Or for a cookie. For courage.
BLOG NOTE: If you are struggling with Depression and/or Thoughts of Suicide, please GET HELP. The world will NEVER be better without you in it. This is a LIE. You are LOVED. You MATTER. You are here to make an impact on some tiny part of this giant world. Someone needs you to be exactly who you are, and ALIVE. Text a friend. Call a cousin. Reach out. Let us in. Just “keep waking up” until one day it begins to make more sense.
Jamaica: 876-930-1152 | USA: 1-800-273- TALK (8255) | UK: PAPYRUS (0800 068 41 41)