Some years ago I got a call from my husband to tell me that one of my best friends had committed suicide. I had just spoken to her the previous night and could not believe the words that I was hearing. I did not want to hear the words and I did not want to believe my beautiful friend so full of life had taken hers. I was beyond angry as at that time I had been fighting for my life. I had just undergone surgery for a life threatening cancer not many survive. I was mad and I was barely able to breathe waiting for the monster to come claim me and my friend had made her own monster. Her anguish and pain I had not noticed. She hid it well. Before her death, she spoke to me of my diagnosis and how difficult it was to accept that I had appeared healthy and yet here I was possibly looking at my own demise. I had not seen her sadness. I had small glimpses of complicated matters in her world but nothing that would have alarmed me. I often felt and heard a sadness in her voice as she talked of family matters and insecurities but once again nothing to take away her usual jovial mannerism. She died in October.
The same year in December upon returning home from holiday travel I received a message that another very close friend had taken his life upon the death of his beloved partner. I once again listened to the words and wondered why I had not seen signs and what if anything I could have done. He was alone and my mind thought of how lonely and sad he must have felt. I cried. He was the one who cooked original Cuban rice and beans for me as we sat chatting about his homeland. He was the one who was so proud of his Barbie doll collection still in original packaging. He was the one I had met in a beauty supply store and admired his hair and asked him to do mine. He was my friend and I could not see his sadness.
In this world we pass by those every day filled with lost hope and sadness. They smile on the outside and say all is fine but inside is a cauldron of tears and fear. We go about our days not knowing who is hurt or why. We avoid eye contact as if a look of connection will bring harm. We see them sleeping in the streets, in doorways, on subways and even in our own homes. I wonder sometimes if a kind word, a smile, a touch would make a difference. if reaching out to offer a hand would have saved the lives of my friends. Would it make a difference if we took the time to notice, if we paid attention. Connection is a human need. We all need to be touched, held and cared for. No man or woman is an island. We all need each other. Rest in peace dear friends.