I keep being reminded that Jojo would have turned 26 this month. The last few times we saw each other seem so rushed now, but they help me smile. My heart breaks at the thought of our unfinished plans and all we had hoped to do. Over the years the freedom that we found in friendship was constant, and safe. But now I’m not sure if it would ever have been enough. All the things we carefully hid from everyone, were just so big.
Everything within me longs to pull her away from the edge, in those final moments. I wrestle with her suicide, in a way I have never wrestled with anything before. I haven’t released the heaviness even now as I speak of it. The gravity and emotional weight often overwhelm me. So I’ve been talking about it, with people I trust. In fact, a few weekends ago I spoke with a common friend of ours and I realized that logic had replaced some of the rawness I felt the afternoon I got the call.
An emotional void was left by the part of me that shattered on April 14, 2015. That Tuesday I didn’t feel sadness, or anger, or even pain. I only sensed the finality of her physical absence. Just being able to talk about Jojo with someone who knew and loved her deeply reassured me that she had not retreated from everyone. Of course the topic of our corporate responsibility came up in conversation, and I’ve noticed that it haunts each of us differently. For me, I have been trying to manage guilt’s desire to tear away the joy of having known and loved her.
The fact is, that in all things morbid there are layers: some of anguish, others of despair. Layers that can only be understood first hand. In heavy things such as loss, grief, depression, post-traumatic stress and suicide there is a veil of vagueness…until they appear close to home. Believe me when I say that I cannot think of anything that compares to the far-reaching tremors that are felt in their aftermath.
I only make a note of saying that because I have seen and heard the indifference of those who have not yet considered the pain that accompanies things like death, loss, trauma, mental illness – much less suicide. There is instead a nonchalance that smiles when ignorant people speak.
But I digress. Honestly, my world has been shaking for months, and it sucks. So I decided I had to try and reclaim her legacy. I decided to acknowledge the suffering she endured, and the courage she held on to for so long. I will never fully understand, but I will honor her greatness – as I did in life. I have promised that I will complete our plans, and keep my promises. I will love as she would have wanted us to.
In as much as I can, I will try to heal through forgiveness. I have started by forgiving myself for all the ways I failed her. Now to truly forgive a long list of other people. Without that painful process, there’s no starting over.