It never ceases to amaze me how quickly the balance of your life can shift.
In a weekend that was characterised by junk food, the constant and comforting warmth of my electric blanket, back-to-back episodes of Mad About You, the company of Mister and the arrival of brilliantly blue autumn skies; life warmed the back of its hand against its jeans and delivered a slap so vicious that my cheek is still stinging from the blow.
I received a text message from a friend which, sweet as it was, was laced with the sort of cryptic content that makes you pause and “hmm” and set your phone aside. You turn back to what you were doing but the text message scrolls through your mind on an endless loop and you start to feel like something isn’t quite right. And then you remember that your friend has been going through the wringer for so long and you can’t remember the last time you saw her smile or heard the music of her laughter in your ears. You remember that her default facial expression is either one of resigned blankness or a tight grimace, almost as if she is waiting for the next disappointment to hit her.
You remember that her support system is almost non-existent and that try as you might, physical distance makes it impossible to convey how much you wish you could be there more.
It occurs to you that her depression is slowly asphyxiating her and that she doesn’t, in all likelihood, tell you the extent of her desperation because she’s selfless and refuses to drag anyone into the mire she’s experiencing with her.
So you reach for your phone and read the text message again. And again.
And then it hits you.
A goodbye glares back at you from the screen. Thirty-six words that rip at your soul and knock all the breath out of your lungs.
And when you’re finally able to stop shaking long enough to frantically dial her number; she doesn’t answer.
I sat in my car in the freezing cold in nothing but my bathrobe and some trainers (because I had been in bed) and I called over and over and over again until she finally picked up the phone.
Listening to my friend pour her pain through the phone and into my ear and heart from miles away is one of the most heart-rending experiences I have ever had to face. She’d surpassed crying and was gasping and then wailing, howling and falling to pieces while I sat there feeling like the most redundant being in existence. She’d reached a point after years of pain where she just didn’t feel like she could persevere any longer. She was devoid of strength and the fight in her had seeped out, run in rivulets and disappeared.
I wanted to wrap her up in my arms and tell her that it would be alright. But that mantra is like throwing gasoline on a tire fire. Instead, all I could do was tell her repeatedly that I loved her and that for entirely selfish reasons, she couldn’t go anywhere. That I needed her in my life. That even though I didn’t know how, I would do my best to help her. The words tumbled off my tongue and into the phone and even though I felt utterly useless, I managed to make her laugh.
That laugh, I think, was the sweetest sound I have heard.
Thankfully, she didn’t go through with what she was planning that night but I’m still plagued with worry. She could change her mind at any time and this time decide not to alert anyone to her intentions. I’m caught between wanting to bombard her with calls, texts and emails and basically live in her house and maintaining a bit of distance because I don’t want to say or do anything that exacerbates how she feels.
Her pain is palpable and it’s like teetering on the edge of a black, bottomless abyss not knowing if there’s anything that can be done to pull her back.
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Stereo. 20-something aspiring bon vivant. London based. Exceptionally Nigerian. Partial to snark. My default setting is "wry". Jeans and blazers are my uniform. Landlady. Speed reader, tuneless singer, hoarder of words, drinker of Schloer; I am suspicious of most people, have zero tolerance for tomfoolery, have a vast DVD collection, worship at the altar of Al Green, own too many bottles of nail polish, have small eyes, small ears and giant hair and owe approximately 86% of my awesome to the Parents Typewriter.
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