In Memory of a Great Friend…

Last Saturday, February 23rd, I learned that a friend of mine had committed suicide. When I found out, I was at work, about two-thirds of the way through my shift. I had stepped in the back to get a drink of water and happened to check my phone. I saw I had a Facebook message from a good friend of hers. I read it and my world started to spin a little. He let me know that my friend CK had passed away. I was in shock, a state I remained in for the rest of the day.  I quickly fired a message back to ask how, etc. She was 32 year old, like me. She had several health issues like Fibromyalgia, Rheumatoid Arthritis, and Crohn’s disease but I hadn’t heard of her having recent health issues or needing hospitalizations. In the pit of my stomach I knew. I knew already how my friend died. Maybe not the method used but I knew she had committed suicide.

CK and I “met” over ten years ago now on some message boards for a show we both adored, La Femme Nikita. She was very passionate about her support of the actors, their characters, and every social issue imaginable. She often got into heated discussions on the message boards and was occasionally banned. While I didn’t see the need to get so worked up  over something online I respected her intelligence and her passion. Somehow, we started communicating. First just some back and forth on the boards themselves, then emails and instant messages. CK  came along at a time in my life when I would stay up half the night on my computer chatting away with multiple people, cruising the message boards, reading things online, and watching television.

As time passed our communication went on to include birthday cards delivered via snail mail, a gift of CD’s she sent to me, and phone conversations. We attempted to meet up when she lived in Ohio but, “The Blackout,” occurred and we both decided that driving several hours when there was no electricity it may not be the best timing.

At first, I felt weird having an “internet,” friend but then I realized that times had changed. It didn’t matter how we knew each other, we were friends. We would talk about our lives, our hopes, our fears, our dreams, etc. We leaned on each other in tough times, encouraged each other in good times. I knew of CK’s health issues fairly early in our friendship. What I didn’t know was the volatile dynamic between her and her mother.

Several years ago CK and her mother moved from their native Ohio to Arizona. The hope was that the warmer climate would make life easier with CK’s medical issues. Perhaps without the bitter cold winters or the humidity her fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis would be tolerable and she could put her Master’s degree to work.

It wasn’t until she was living in Arizona that stories of the fights between her and her mother started to seep out. I was definitely concerned but it seemed like old hat. She kind of blew it off after venting and I figured she was a very strong person, she could handle herself. I don’t know that I’ll ever know the true level of nastiness that CK endured during her too short lifetime.

Sometime during the last year CK and her mother got into a huge fight and she wrote her goodbye’s on facebook. She expressed she couldn’t live this way any longer. She was on the waiting lists for public housing but she said those lists could take years. She couldn’t afford to live on her own, she had nowhere to go. She was going to end it. When I read her status update I immediately started calling her cell phone and home phone. No answer on either. Sitting in my family room in Michigan I was at a loss as to what to do. Then an idea hit, I knew her address, I new her name, her phone number, her mother’s name. So I looked up her local emergency services and called to report her threat of suicide. With all the privacy laws nowadays the dispatcher couldn’t tell me much but she assured me the police had been out to CK’s home and spoke with her at length. My friend was safe. I didn’t care that that was all the information I could be given. My friend was safe, I was relieved. CK ended up in the hospital after that but when she got home she called to thank me for caring. She even assured me she wouldn’t let things get that bad again. It was at this point I started to learn how bad things could be between CK and her mother. The situation with her father was no better.

In the months that followed CK seemed to be doing all right. Sometimes they would fight but they’d have some decent patches too. So when I found out she had shot herself, I was completely shocked. A part of me wonders if I had been a better friend, would she still be here?Was there something I missed? Something I could have done? Should I have pushed her harder to leave her mother’s home and move in with a cousin or aunt or friend that would have been healthier, more stable? Logically, I know that there is nothing I could have done to save my friend. She had attempted suicide several times in her past. She was in a lot of pain, physically and emotionally. She felt trapped by her situation, her mother, her health.

CK was an amazing woman. She lived passionately and truthfully. She was always herself no matter what the circumstances. She had a loving heart, full of compassion. There is so much she could have done in this world had her life not been cut short. Despite the fact she wasn’t on this earth for very long, she made an impact. She challenged people, she encouraged, she supported, she inspired. CK, this entry doesn’t even begin to do you justice. I don’t know that I have the words to adequately describe the person that you were. Wherever you are, I am confident you are now at peace, without pain, and filled with love. Thank you for being my friend all these years.

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