My life is like a tornado, like thunder when I cry.
If snowflakes were my happiness, then winter would fly by.
People are like teardrops, that glisten in the night.
We are all but mirrors, breaking in the light.
If our souls could shine, and tell all that we feel,
Then mirrors would be windows, for our words to heal.
This poem was written in 1994, by a girl went to high-school with ‘M’.
M is dead.
She has been dead for over 10 years now.
It was Fall 1996, I was just coming up to my 18th birthday, the school year had just started. We were seniors, each and every one of us looking with wide-eyed anticipation to the world that was about to open up for us.
I remember being at my Dance studio early on that Tuesday, having taking a day off for a dance exam. Denise a fellow dancer came into the studio, face red and puffy – tears still streaming down her face.
“Are you ok, Denise” I asked, putting my arm around her shoulder.
“I can’t believe you aren’t crying, Joey. Why aren’t you crying?” she sobbed into the arm of my warm-up suit, but still managing a lecturing tone.
“What?” I questioned.
“M is dead” she yelled. She repeated the statement over and over again.
I went into my dance exam with nothing but M on my mind. That was the first and only exam I ever failed. I never felt that was a fair way to learn about a friend’s death.
M was a very interesting character, the kind of person people write books about, or base TV characters on. She was different and quirky. Both her parents were University professors, so education was paramount. I always thought that even with the little I knew about her family, I felt they put a lot of pressure on her. She worked hard as an active member of our student council, she also participated in a Rotary Club exchange-She went to Venuzula if I recall. She was incredibly intelligent, and always willing to help you out if you didn’t understand something. I even remember her deep rooted belief that God was a woman, after hearing her arguments you would have believed God was a woman too.
She was never without problems though, M might not have been the most popular person in high-school, and sometimes the desire to be popular landed her in the butt of peoples jokes more than in their company. She dyed her hair pink once, I remember how people picked on her. I remember once hearing about M drinking bleach in elementary school, and needing to have her stomach pumped. Who knows if that was true, it was a story that floated shortly after her death.
The next day at school the hallways were quiet and less populated than usual. We were sitting in homeroom, no one said a word. Mrs Singleton, the school principal came on over the PA to offer condolences and to tell students were they could get grief counselling. Mrs Singleton’s message was poignant and powerful. The crying began.
I partook in a few of the grief counselling sessions, and the suicide awareness & prevention sessions too.
I remember learning the signs of the suicidal (see common signs at the bottom of this entry), and bringing it back to M. She exhibited so many of the signs. It was easy to put blame on every single person who interacted with her on a daily basis. If we’d all had known the signs before, surely ONE of us would have noticed something was up. Surely ONE of us could have helped, could have stopped her. I still have a sliver of guilt in the back of my mind-what could I have done to help M?
The weeks leading up to her death she visited old friends and made a few out of city trips to people who had moved away. She returned things she had borrowed, which was the case with me. She borrowed a gym uniform from me in grade 9, and she always joked with me that I would get it back on my birthday. She gave me my gym clothes back on September 27 (My birthday is October 10) I never thought that she was saying goodbye to me. I never thought that would be the last time I’d laugh with M.
M took her life on Monday September 30, 1996.
Her method of finality will never been known for sure. But given her military background, and obvious desire to succeed at this horrific task, I’m sure it was something ‘permanent’ and I should be thankful that I don’t actually know for sure.
I keep the torn, tattered, worn and faded funeral card with the poem above in my wallet.
Still. Even after all these years and seasons.
Its a daily reminder that things got better, and are getting better.
I have not had to deal with a lot of death in my time on this earth, but even with the few deaths I’ve suffered, none have whole-heartedly affected me like M’s death. I was so mad with her at the time, and I’m still mad with her now. Why couldn’t she hold on a little longer? High school was almost over – the whole world was out there waiting for us.
I miss you M, and hope where ever you are, you have found the happiness that eluded you here. . . . .
July 15, 1978 – September 30, 1996
Recently I’ve seen pictures of M pop up on Facebook, sadly she isn’t ‘tagged’ in any of the photos. We all know her, remember her, we’ve all simply chosen not to speak about her. . . . . . .we’ve not forgotten M, we’ve not forgotten. I promise you that.
If you or anyone in your family or friends is or might be suicidal, please seek help!
Suicide Warning Signs:
- Appearing depressed or sad most of the time.
(Untreated depression is the number one cause for suicide.)
- Feeling hopeless.
- Expressing hopelessness.
- Withdrawing from family and friends.
- Sleeping too much or too little.
- Feeling tired most of the time.
- Gaining or losing a significant amount of weight.
- Making statements such as these:
- “I can’t go on any longer.”
- “I hate this life.”
- “There’s no point to this stupid life.”
- “Everyone would be better off without me.”
- “Life is not worth living.”
- “Nothing matters anymore.”
- “I don’t care about anything anymore.”
- “I want to die.”
- –And any mention of suicide–
- Writing notes or poems about suicide or death.
- Acting compulsively.
- Losing interest in most activities.
- Giving away prized possessions.
- Writing a will.
- No sense of humor.
- Facing a perceived “humiliating” situation.
- Facing a perceived “failure.”
- Feeling excessive guilt or shame.
- Acting irrationally.
- Being preoccupied with death or dying.
- Behaving recklessly.
- Frequently complaining about headaches, stomachaches, etc.
- Neglecting personal appearance.
- A dramatic change in personal appearance.
- A dramatic change in personality.
- Performing poorly at work or in school.
- Abusing alcohol or drugs.
- Inability to concentrate.