No, really. A friend of mine and I agreed to buy and follow the assignments in this book: Get a Grip: Your Two Week Mental Makeover. Granted, that was more than 6 months ago, before life as I knew it took an even bigger turn for the worse. So, now, since I’m no longer going to counseling and the SOS Group was a bust because of my insane work schedule, I thought I’d dust this book off and give it a shot. Since it requires daily journaling, I thought it might also be a good opportunity for me to dust this blog off as well. I know venting here has always been therapeutic for me, but I never seem to make the time for it, or for myself, anymore. So here we go again…
To begin with, the first exercise requires that I take a moment to figure out how I really am…not the standard, “Oh I’m fine, how are you?” that comes out of my mouth every day when asked the question. But the real, honest to goodness answer. And then to spend some time answering WHY. I actually have a hard time when people ask how I am because I know they don’t really want an answer other than the expected courteous response of fine, good, great, etc. I have a hard time with the fake answer because I know I am none of those things. I’m not fine. I’m not good. And I sure as hell am not great. I’m a mess. The WHYs? I’ve overworked myself, thanks to my boss and her insane deadlines and expectations, to the point of mental, physical, and emotional exhaustion. I’m sad because I know this is no way to live. I’m frustrated because I have to pay the bills somehow. And underneath all of that, I’m depressed because I miss my best friend, Red. And I’m still so very pissed off at her for leaving me to deal with this shitty life all alone.
I alluded to it here when it happened, but haven’t actually written about it yet because my feelings are still all over the place. And still so raw and hurt and overwhelmingly heartbroken and sad. On December 1, while she was on her self-proclaimed trip of a lifetime to her dream destination in Italy, right before she was supposed to come home, my sweet friend decided to swallow a bunch of pills, some wine, and who knows what else, and end her life. I was at the dr’s office that day, for some extreme pain I’d been having in my arms (beginnings of carpal tunnel was the guess….diagnosis was reduce my stress level and get massages). When I left the dr’s office, I noticed I had a text message from Mr. Red. I found that odd because he and I had not really talked at all since he and Red seperated. My first thought, knowing that she was due to return home from her trip soon, was that maybe he was looking for someone to pick her up from the airport. Estranged though they were, they were still civil and sharing custody of their almost-at-the-time 5 year old son. Mr Red and Little Red had taken her to the airport to begin her trip the week of Thanksgiving. So all I can think is that he needed me to pick her up. So I clicked on the message to read his text…
The first few words were the worst kick to the gut I can describe: Red just passed away in Italy. I couldn’t comprehend what that could mean, in the split second it took to read that, my mind was trying to come up with all kinds of explanations, a car wreck, anything, and at the same time, my mind was rejecting the very idea that anything could have happened to her. The next few lines said she killed herself by overdose and that Mr Red was at the airport heading to Italy to bring her home. Tears were already pouring out of my eyes, but I still did not believe this could be anything but some sick joke. I immediatley called Mr Red demanding that he take it back. His voice was so strange, I know he was in shock. I got to talk to him for less than a minute…he was literally boarding the plane. He had a stop in Germany and then would be in Italy by early the next morning Central time. I hung up the phone and screamed at the top of my lungs. Crying. Begging that this not be true. It had started raining by that time. So there I was, sitting in my car in the parking lot outside the dr’s office, screaming and howling in pain, hitting the steering wheel, hitting the seat, hitting the door, in disbelief and anguish.
More out of instinct than any clear thought, I called my parents. I needed to talk to someone. I got their voicemail and left some incoherent wailing message that Red was dead. In hindsight, not a good message to leave on someone’s answering machine. Especially my parents who are 5 hours away. My oldest brother, Dilbert, was in town for meetings that day and was coming back to stay at my house that evening. So I sent him a text to see if he was at my house or still in his meetings. I was hoping he was at my house and could come get me because I knew I couldn’t drive myself home in that state, in the rain. He replied that he was in meeting so I said nevermind. He must have had some sixth sense because he asked what was up. I had to tell someone. I had to get it out, so I responded that Red was dead. It took me several minutes to type those three words…each letter was a dagger to my heart. Almost immediately after hitting send, my phone rang. Dilbert had stepped out of the meeting to call me. I was hysterical and just kept screaming she’s dead. she’s fucking dead. He tried to help me calm down, figure out where I was and told me he would be at my house within about 40 minutes. I sat in the car screaming and crying and hyperventilating for some amount of time that felt like eternity. Finally I managed to pull it together enough to make the short drive to my house.
I remember, I posted on her facebook page, “someone please tell me this is a sick joke. please.” Her aunt, who I’d never met before but heard of a few times, replied and said she was hoping the same thing. I also had some cryptic message as my status that said something similar. My friend, Mexigoalie, texted to ask if I was ok. I said no, but it was not me. It was Red. He asked, I think as a joke, is she alive? Again, it took an eternity to type two letters: NO. My mom had called by that time, trying to find out what the hell was going on. There were so many calls and emails and text messages I can’t keep them all straight. Other than my mom, brother, and a few friends, I didn’t want to tell anyone. I didn’t know very much…only a few quick words from her husband. I was convinced that he was going to arrive in Italy and find that it was all some horrible mistake. The wrong person. Or that she was really fine. I just knew it. She had to be ok.
I got a text from Mr Red in the early hours of the morning. He was in Italy and about to go to the hospital where she was. Next, he was there and had been given her belongings that were with her at the hospital…watch, jewlery, etc. Letters she had left for their son. He was waiting to see her but they were doing an autopsy. I refused to belive it was real. He hadn’t actually seen her yet, so there could still be some mistake.
I called him at his hotel in Italy later that night. He had seen her. Had held her hand. Had told her he loved her. She was really gone. He was so choked up with emotion I could barely understand him. He was there, in Italy, far from home and all alone and had just had to go identify his dead wife. To this day, I don’t know how he did it. He had been to her hotel to get her things there. The mess he described in her room. I was collapsing with grief just hearing about it. He had to be there. His dad was able to fly out the next day to be there and support him through this, so I was grateful for that.
It wasn’t until Mr Red got back home that I learned more details. Apparently, she had overdosed a few days prior. They had called Mr Red, said she’d thrown up a lot at the hotel and had her stomach pumped in the hospital. She was pretty out of it, but they thought she was going to be ok. He even got to talk to her on the phone briefly. He said she slurred badly but made a joke that she guessed she was going to be in Italy a little longer than he thought. He talked to her again briefly the next day. I still don’t know to what degree she was conscious or even coherent. I have so many questions, but Mr Red doesn’t want to talk about it. But basically, he had called her aunt to see if she could come to Dallas to help take care of Red for awhile. He was flying out to Italy to get her and bring her home. It was the day he was catching the plane. Literally minutes before boarding when the hospital called him back to say that she didn’t make it. That her heart just gave out. That she had died. That was when I got the text from him. He hadn’t told me anything prior to that because they thought she would be ok and he was just focused on getting her home. That quickly, his trip had a whole different purpose. People say it was tacky that he sent me that news in a text message. I understand though. He wanted to let me know but didn’t have time to talk and was about to be on an international flight. I don’t blame him for that.
He wasn’t able to bring her body home with him. The police had not released her yet. There was also a big mess with sorting things out with Customs that was taking awhile. So he came home without her. He was having her cremated and her ashes would be shipped to the US in a week or so. Her family (which is another story all-together…don’t get me started) threw a fit and tried to stop that, saying they would pay to have her body shipped back, not to cremate her, but Mr Red said that was what Red wanted and he would honor that. To hell with what her “family” wanted. Luckily, at least they seemed to back off and accept it once they understood that’s what Red wanted (or probably more likely what it would cost to ship her body back). That’s ugly for me to think that way, but I’ve heard next to nothing good about her family from her or anyone else so it is easy for me to think badly of them.
This is only the tip of the iceberg, but I’ve exhausted my hands (which have been almost worthless the last few weeks due to this carpal tunnel crap) and my heart enough for the time being. I’ll write more about it tomorrow, because I know I need to get these things out. And there is just so much that I have been hesitant to write about it because I know it could fill hundreds of pages. I’m still constantly shifting between sadness and anger and guilt. It’s a never-ending cycle it seems. I keep thinking if she was here, I would kick her ass for doing this and then hug her and never let go.
I’ve never really lost anyone I was close to before. I mean really close to. Not to make light of my grandmothers that I’ve lost, but that was a completely different relationship. Red was truly the first and only REAL friend that I’ve made as an adult, since I moved to Dallas in 1998. She was the first person I felt truly “got” me and that I “got” in return. So much of that is in question now because I never would have even imagined she was capable of this. There was a quote we liked that said: Best friends, because our parents couldn’t have handled us as sisters. That’s really how I felt about her. She was the closest thing to a sister and I loved her as much as if she was my sister…I still do.