This is going to be really hard, so I have to pop out for a ciggie and arrange my ideas, as Poirot would say. I can’t afford to get it wrong…
She was brilliant, so brilliant in fact that she practically flew through medical school in her hurry to help people. Because she was as kind-hearted as she was brilliant, and as brilliant as she was beautiful. She was going to be a psychologist, and was in the specialisation stage of her training. She knew that emotional pain is more destructive than physical pain, because she had felt it herself. She was going to heal people and send them out into the world whole and happy. And in healing them, I am certain that she would have managed to heal herself.
They say that suicide is the coward’s way, but I have never believed it. It takes as much strength to let go off of Life forever, as it takes to live it. Many people have threatened suicide, and just as many have attempted it at least once; my first time, I was just twelve. But attempts are not the Final Act. They are, as psychologists inanely state a ‘cry for help’. To go through with the Final Act, I believe it DOES take strength. Enormous strength. Especially when you are studying far from home. Especially when your sister’s visit is imminent, and you know you’ll never see her again. Especially when intellectually you know that you have everything to live for.
Where the strength comes from to let go off of Life, I do not know. It can come from anger against circumstances that boils to rage. It can come from the deep self-pity of a character that has always been weak or entitled, and always refused to make Life decisions within the parentheses of responsibility and consequence. But mostly, I believe, mostly, that strength comes from fatal Despair.
Of all negative emotions, I believe Despair is the very worst. It is a gift of the Devil, whose demons loves to eat away at souls; I picture them as Dementors, standing before your petrified body, literally sucking the Life out of you. Anger passes; it’s intensity is too difficult to sustain. But Despair, once it has found you, can remain your constant companion, there in the air, in your food, in everything you do and say, in your relationships, in your progressively worsening Life decisions.
Despair confirms to you every single negative thing that you have ever thought about yourself. It assures you that you can’t make it, and that therefore it is pointless to try. It warps your senses, confirming to you that a phone call not received is a sign that your friend does not value you, and in fact thinks you are worthless. Despair wakes with you every morning to whisper first, before you can do anything else, that this day is going to be exactly like yesterday. There IS no better day, it presses urgently, and things will NEVER get better. Things, by the way, which, looked at with a healthy eye, aren’t really that serious. I’ve said before that this is an expression I adore using, whatever the situation: “It’s not that serious.” Indeed, most things are fixable. By you, or if not, by your parents, by your friends, by a professional, and certainly, by God. But Despair negates this. What’s worse, it negates it not actively, but passively, seeping into your pores, into your body, into every cell, invading as swiftly and as quietly as it can. When it reaches your brain and begins to warp it, it becomes Depression.
“Depression” is actually an extremely silly word for such a considerable Opponent to Life. It implies a slight dip, a small dent; a very shallow incline which can be padded up to make things level again. In truth, “Depression” is a vast, ever deepening, ever widening Chasm. It is the fall with no rock-bottom, and most of the time, you don’t even know you’ve begun the fall, until you’re flying deep into it. And sometimes, not even then. What’s worse is that, like an incubated virus, it is genetically passed on from generation to generation, each handling it with varying degrees of success, depending on whether they know they have it or not. In our family, it comes from my mother‘s side. Mum handled it very well, if she ever had it -I, not so much. I currently suspect my brother has it, and I am deeply worried for him, as he too is far from home, and most certainly clueless.
I was first diagnosed when I was 16, and I laughed. “Depression” was a disease that white TV soap stars got, and then they went up to a cliff and threw themselves down, or whatever. If I DID indeed have it, It certainly wasn’t serious. Like I and everyone else caught the flu once in a while, I caught a ‘downer’ now and then, and then it passed and I was better. I took his Prozac -and chucked it. Despair chuckled, and prepared for a long. Long. Long, stay. But it hadn’t counted on my God-given Mum -and it thought it knew me too well. Some time ago, Mum, who hadn’t seen her daughter for quite a few years, got Fed Up. And when Mum gets Fed Up, she doesn’t sit there and curse or threaten -she acts. I was dragged off to a smiling, moon-faced psychiatrist who, before I could exhibit the very worst manners and Attitude that I am capable of, had diagnosed me with serious Chasm, and put me on medication.
I did my research, and was intrigued when I recognised not a few symptoms. I read stories that sounded like mine and began to feel better. I avidly read medical reports and articles on Chasm, until I felt informed enough to ask the right questions. I asked those questions, and moon-face answered them quite impressively. And the deciding factor? I was tired. I took it because, very simply, I had nothing else to do. And just like that, my Life changed.
The good news is that, although Despair is extremely deniable and virtually untraceable -Chasm can be fought successfully with just a little discipline and even just one person to lean on. I didn’t have just one. I had at least five rocks to lean on, the three strongest being Mum, Mum’s sister, and my beautiful cousin’s mother.
Come what may, I know that her pain will never be erased. Because she’s a doctor, and will be convinced that there is something she should have done. Because she is a mother, and she knew her daughter all her Life. Because as a doctor and a mother, she should have seen and done more than she ever did. Because as a mother, she will convince herself that she never, in fact, did enough. I know that Chasm can be fought, but when Guilt (which is a good portion of the ingredients of Despair), begins to rear its devastating head, the result is a prompt trip into Chasm, and this is what I am going to fight for for my aunt. I will give her all I can. I will be there for her the way she was there for me.
My reaction to this tragedy was quite… strange. The story as I first heard it was that my cousin’s little sister had landed at the airport and waited patiently to be collected by her sister. When she didn’t come, she took a taxi to her sister’s flat, and entered it, and found her inert in bed… I broke down and sobbed uncontrollably. What on earth could have happened to my beautiful, beautiful cousin? Who could have done something to her, and what was being done to find out? How on Earth would the scars inflicted to her little sister ever heal, sitting there by her sister’s body in disbelief yet grieving, alone in a foreign country with no one to call, and wondering what to do? How on Earth would my aunt ever recover? And most importantly… WHY? Why, God, Why? But this is one question I know from experience it is useless to ask God…
When I found out that no one had harmed her, I felt a deep sense of… relief. As a firm believer in God, I know that she is in a better place, and even better, that she is as happy and pain-free as she was as a child. It’s those who remain to miss the departed who suffer. But I’m going to take care of them, and she’s going to take care of all of us.
God Bless You, my Beloved, Darling Cousin. May you Rest in Peace at last, and Forever, until we see each other again xxxoooxxx