It’s hard to believe it’s been a year since, Nancy, my dear friend, took her life from the rest of us. July 10th was the day. I was talking with another mutual dear friend, Allison, about it all, and she made a good point that perhaps… perhaps Nancy knew something bigger was coming that she couldn’t handle, so she left and Covid-19 entered stage left. I don’t support suicidal exits from earth. Not remotely. However, I understood Nancy had tried everything she knew to learn and create the tools to dig herself out of her dark, dark hole which she often entered.
I’d known Nancy for eight years, perhaps. When we met, she was the guiding, compassionate and kind mentor I needed so badly. She took time to be with so many young people and adults alike to help them navigate their own dark and confusing places. As the years passed, and we found ourselves to be healing companions, we became friends and equals that crossed the gap of twenty years difference in age and comforted and challenged each other in our journeys.
What I didn’t fully grasp for most of those years, however, was the depth of the dark places Nancy waded through. A few years ago I found out the number one coping mechanism she secretly engaged in was drinking. I had no idea, and didn’t know what to think when I found out how she managed to stay afloat. Don’t get me wrong, she wasn’t a drunk I’d say. She functioned well and led groups at church and did equine therapy to help herself; she participated in book clubs about overcoming our darknesses. She went through healing techniques of all sorts from Christian sources to hyper spiritualistic gurus. She even checked herself into a psych ward at one point to get through a manic episode in which she found herself. She took medication. She went to counseling. She did sound therapy, the float tank, acupuncture. You name it. Most recently, she completely quit drinking and went to a rehabilitation clinic in Florida for a couple months. And she even went with me to the energy vortexes in Sedona, AZ to see if, perhaps, she would gain relief from her demons. In the midst of all this, she did have periods of relief in which she resurfaced from her numb existence and we had fun and laughed. Briefly. Those periods were further and further apart in more recent times.
July 10th, 2019. Allison always floated the river around the Fourth of July, and that year, the tenth happened to be the day we went for a little reprieve from the heat. Nancy was supposed to come. She always, always loved it before. She had been in particularly dark places in the past few months since she returned from rehab and was (even more than usual) in the habit of canceling plans last minute. Allison and I were looking forward to our float. It’s hard being a friend to someone we realized we couldn’t help, so we needed a reprieve ourselves.
Sure enough, we got a text. ”Hey ladies, I’m not going to make it. Have a splendid time.”
My heart sank. We were annoyed and frustrated about the last minute cancel, and didn’t want to chase her down to see what was up AGAIN. My heart felt heavy knowing something was up.
Allison and I had a merry float down the river, and didn’t hear from Nancy the rest of the day.
The next day Allison called me. “Are you sitting down?” She asked. “I stared at the pavement mid-step on the walk outside my house. “What happened?” I asked, my heart, beginning to beat quickly, sank to my toes. “They found Nancy. She’s gone. They found her at a hotel.” My breath caught in my throat for a second. As I sank into the patio chair, the tears gurgled up from the pit of my stomach and spilled from my eyes like an open damn… I knew why, but it still was a shock, a deep, deep shock that shook and wrenched my insides out. Then I didn’t know why. Why? After all that? She was almost there! She was almost free! I thought…
A year has gone by since Nancy left us. I think I understand one minute, and the next I don’t. All I know is that I hope. I hope she is at peace, finally. I hope she’s found rest. I believe she has. I was with her during many healing sessions and I saw she could access the other realm to experience peace and hope and self-love. I saw her give those attributes to others too. And yet… she still left.
All I know to do in the wake of her departure is to live. And live full out. Live like today is the last day I have to be with those I love. Live like this is the last meal I will eat. Live like this is the last conversation I will have with my dearest. Live like I matter, because I do. Nancy mattered too. She matters still. And so do you.