Tuesday, March 03, 2015

My Sweet Silly

Silly was who I knew her as when we met as teenagers on a BBS (holy shit!  20 years ago!).  We lost track of each other over the years.  Then we reconnected on another online community.  Total fluke.  She was hilarious.  She was a drug and alcohol counselor.  She was an adopter of animals of all sorts.  She seemed to especially drawn to those who fell through the cracks be they animals or people.  Ones that were a bit odd or had issues.  You could say the same about a great deal of those she kept company with, myself included.  She took the broken and battered and loved them back to wholeness.  Unfortunately, too often it was a one way street.  But she gave and she gave and she gave.  She had a positive attitude about the things she could not change and changed the things she could.

She was also the mother of a girl with autism and other mental illness issues (what their names were was debated until the end).  Sarah did amazing with Julieanne.  Julie was obsessed with stuffies and video games.  She could be super stubborn and also super sweet.  Sarah had a way of downplaying the intensity of how things were.  I think often times not only to others but to herself.   But you should have seen her with Julie.  She knew what to do.  She figured out what natural remedies would help and wasn't afraid to try different routes in the pharmaceutical world.  I realized how much she played down Julie's situation one time I was over for some sort of summery gathering.  Julie was annoyed by something and became very agitated.  She was swearing in such ways she could have made a trucker blush.  She was trying to hit her mother.  Sarah restrained her by holding Julie in a way she could not hurt herself or others.  The whole time she was loving to her daughter.  Her calm was palpable.  It didn't take long for Julie to calm down.  She sort of melted.  Once she could control herself again she apologized to her mom and everything was okay.  Business as usual.  I knew Sarah was very capable but I never had an idea about the intensity that cropped up and how cool, calm and collected she was.  It was beyond impressive.

Now a little about our friendship.  For whatever reason we could be competitive.  I think both of us were often seeking validation and wanting to be valuable to one another.  I know I always want to give everyone information about stuff and provide emotional support so that I am valuable to others.  I think she did the same thing. But damn, she really was good at it.  I know she literally saved other people's lives as a drug and alcohol counselor.  She was very good at calling people on their shit, in a loving way.  Us both needing to be smart and capable, that was the hardest part of our friendship.  But it was far outshined by the rest.  Really.  It was minuscule compared to the full breadth of the friendship she gave me.  She was silly (apt name for her online persona).  She was hilarious.  She was smart.  She was intuitive.  She was ridiculously crafty.  She could learn any skill she had a desire to.  She was amazingly friendly...  She was also pulled into too many directions.

We used to go late night shopping.  Wandering isles and being goofy.  We would find fun food to bring back to the house (weird combinations).  She helped me bleach my hair (remember the year I had blue/pink/purple hair?).  She would find little things in her adventures that reminded her of me and couldn't NOT pick them up for me (one of her love language was definitely gifts).  She provided me with a couple of my Monster High dolls to repaint.  She would find cute little owl-y things for me.  I helped her get kombucha started.  She grew herbs for my tinctures.  I gave her tinctures I'd made.

And there was Julie.  I loved Julie immensely.  I still have a bracelet of squinkies she made for me.  I was informed how important this was because she didn't just give away squinkies.  She would often tell me she loved me and I told her I loved her too.  Her calm, clear times she was funny and sweet.  Often when she'd have a rough time it would be followed by things like "I'm sorry," in her sweet way. And, "I didn't really mean it. I was just upset."  That was reserved for when she said something unkind in her grumpiness.  She meant the apology.

Now, because of Sarah and our competitiveness and our wanting to be the master "fixer" we had a few, short lived, rough times.  I really believe we finally came to a point where we could just be there with each other instead of trying to fix one another.  We admitted vulnerability.  We could just *be* together.  We leaned.

So, we were good.  But with my latest pregnancy loss along with some other tremulous life stuff I fell apart and became horribly depressed.  In the last few months I pulled away from everyone.  Sarah included.  I didn't want to be around myself much less inflict myself on others.  It was a rather scary time in my life.  Counseling, coaching, herbs and supplements.  Things have been getting better in the last couple of months and I've started talking to people again.  We had a few near misses on hanging out.  I was happy I was able to go to her daughter's 16th birthday party with Marshall in tow.  She seemed frazzled and I sort of stood back so she could do her thing instead of overwhelming her with seeking her attention when she was obviously pulled every which way while entertaining.  I did hug her.  I did tell her I loved her.  She seemed distant and stressed.  Julie was really having a difficult time.  Sarah got her to come around for a little while.  If I remember correctly Julie was feeding quarters into a claw machine for a time.  And before we knew it it was time to go.  We said how we should get together soon.  And we almost did.  She had to cancel due to illness.  Lame but okay.  We can always do it another day. And with me working more hours I'm not too far from here when I work in office.  I can just swing by. That almost happened too.  But it didn't. She was feeling off when I was going to stop by to pick up D rings to make my pup harness type thing.  I didn't realize that the disconnected, hectic party was the last time I'd get to see my friend.

Saturday I was on my break at work when a mutual friend, Heather, texted me with some screen capture.  I thought I knew what post it was so I didn't open it just then.  Then I did.  It said something about "sorry" and "RIP".  I was like, "Dude!  Did something happen to one of the cats?  Or her dogs?  Is Julie okay?"  Heather said she'd call Sarah and check in with her and get back to me.  I never could have guess what happened next.  I went back in to work.  Heather tried to call me.  I was on a call with some guy talking about Patagonia Capilene long johns.  He was... rambly.  Heather texted me.  Sarah was dead.  Julie was dead.   It couldn't be right.  I was trying to keep my mind together while trying to comprehend these inconsequential questions about long johns.  The guy really just needed to spend some time reading the descriptions and thinking.  I suggested he take time to look at what we had to offer and call back if he has any questions.  Meanwhile I'm messaging our Support Center with "When I'm off this call I need to go.  My friend just killed herself."  So surreal.  I was really close to actually just saying to the guy that there was an emergency and I had to go but I finally got him off the phone.

Half way down the hall to leave I started bawling.  I got on the phone with Brett and headed over to his work.  I sat with him for a while and he held my hand and listened to me.  I talked to Heather more.  I sat up and watched Scrubs until Brett got home (4:30AM).  I called in to work before I went to sleep.  No way was I going in.  The next day Brett kept me company until he had to work.  Then I drove up to Bothell to spend time with Heather.  We talked about Sarah.  We tried to make sense of it.  We both saw how things were only getting worse with Julie and how no one knew what to do.

In the last several months Sarah had taken Julie to a children's hospital so she could get off of her meds safely and they could try something else.  She did this twice.  A whole mess of doctors and psychologists had no insights. Sarah got reassurance that she was doing everything right.  They tried new meds that helped temporarily but left Julie with more unwanted side effects.  And then she got worse again.

Julie had become a full time job and I don't even know how Sarah was surviving.  She was suffering from fibromyalgia and chronic back pain.  Julie was getting bigger and stronger and I saw hints of Julie becoming more aggressive.  Sarah had been joking about getting things lobbed at her head on more than one occasion.  With how Sarah always down played everything I couldn't help but wonder how bad it really was.  I really have no clue.  Maybe it was just on occasion.  I somehow doubt it.

Heather and I compared notes and Sarah had been talking a lot about "What would happen to Julie if something happened to me?"  Sarah was struggling.  What if Julie injured her?  What if something happened and she couldn't take care of her?  Who could take Julie on if she was unable to care for her?  How could anyone else agree to take that on.  I can handle a lot of things but I knew I couldn't handle Julie.  What would be the alternative?

And money?  Sarah had been out of work for sometime.  Layed off.  But she couldn't find more work because all her waking hours were typically taking care of Julie or sleeping when Julie was in school (we won't even get into what her night times were like).  She tried to see if the state could pay her as Julie's full time care but she never heard anything back.  My friend was exhausted.  When would she have time to follow up?  Then her van died.  She did not have the money to pay for the van much less it's repairs.  But she needed a vehicle to take Julie to appointments to try to help find some sort of solution.  It wasn't happening.  There were no signs of it being able to happen.  The subject had come up between us that how things were going were NOT sustainable.  Meanwhile Sarah was watching her daughter, this sweet soul, be a victim of her own mind.  Trapped in a body and brain that wouldn't let her be happy.  And nothing anyone could do was helping.

So really, I can see what led my friend to drastic measures.  She was a victim of poverty and hopelessness. Doctors and mental healthcare professionals had nothing to offer.  It was just getting worse.  I had just pulled myself from the fire and when my own little world had crumbled and I saw what escape looked like.  It was appealing.  And the honest fact of my situation is that things *would* get better.  Sarah's would likely not get better.  There was no end in sight.  Even I could see that even if she had some more happy moments my friend couldn't stand to see her daughter suffering anymore.  My friend was tired.  My friend couldn't keep going.  She couldn't stand to see her daughter in emotional pain, trapped.  She couldn't keep her own pain at bay either.

My head is full of should-have-could-have-would-have.  But I know anything I had to offer would have been a temporary band-aid.  I wish I could have given her even a small repreive (see, there, with the "could-have").  It's a crazy train I'm better off not riding.  And it can't change a thing.  I just wanted better for her.  I wanted better for both of them.

I wish I knew what she was thinking for sure.  All of this is speculation.  Just my perspective.  I'm no expert on why she did what she did.  I wish I knew what was in that letter she left.  I want to know that she for sure knew how much I loved her.  Because she meant a lot to me.  She still does.  This whole thing is still so surreal.  I don't want to believe it.  I hope she and Julie have found peace.  I hope she can get the reprieve now that she so richly deserved.

1 comment:

ElleBelle said...

Johanna- If you ever need to talk, I'm here to listen. Love you- Much. I am so sorry for the loss of such dear friends. This is so sad, but I am so glad you wrote it...you really do have a way with words. My number is the same. Love and Light- Ellie