“Have you heard from Stace?”
“She’s probably just having a Stacy moment. Going underground. You know how she is…”
I go every day, even if it is for the tiniest of moments, wondering “what if…”, “if only I went over to her place the night before…”, “why didn’t I have a gut feeling that time?…” I know it would have only been a temporary save, that she would have found another way to end her pain, to end the demons that screamed in her head. I’ve been there. Those demons are always right there, waiting for the slightest trip to bring you all the way down.
It has been one year since I lost a woman who I considered a sister. We spent so many nights curled up on her couch like high schoolers, gossiping, talking about boys, laughing, crying, discussing the bigger things in life, and photography. We made plans. We would start a non-profit, maybe two non-profits. We wanted to empower people. We wanted to feed and spend time with homeless and those less fortunate than us. We wanted to do good in the world because the world just needed more good in it.
One year since I got texts from a man that loved her saying he thought something was wrong, and I brushed it off as Stacy being Stacy (we all know how she would just disappear from time to time). One year since her mom texted me asking if I had heard from her and my stomach lurching. I knew before I really knew. I knew as I drove to her apartment, reassuring her mom that everything would be fine, even though I knew it wouldn’t. I hoped to find her on the couch watching tv, maybe curled up with a book.
But I didn’t.
I didn’t find her full of life. I didn’t find her smiling at me and laughing at my mama bear antics, always worrying, always with my gut feeling. Instead I found her sleeping. I touched her shoulder to wake her, but there was no waking her up. I found her and collapsed onto the floor. I crawled from her room. I screamed and cried. Then I pulled myself together, and started making phone calls. 911. Her mom. Her friends. Then I waited.
I waited for what seemed like hours in that apartment alone with her. I sat on the floor next to her bed and talked to her. I paced. I answered texts and phone calls. It all felt wrong. I sat alone and wondered “Is this how I’m supposed to deal with this? Should I leave? Should I close the bedroom door? No. Don’t touch anything. Oh look, she left a note. Of course she did, its Stacy…”. I watched the sun set from her apartment as I waited.
Most of that night is a blur. I remember going in and out to answer phone calls. I remember the officers looking at my beat up face and arms and asking if I needed medical attention (I had taken a pretty nasty fall off of my bike just days earlier). I remember looking at her shelf of whiskey and wanting so badly to drown the night in it. I was in that apartment for eight hours until she was finally brought down. I stayed with her for as long as I was allowed. I would not let her be alone anymore. I rode the elevator down with her, standing protective over her body.
It has been one year since that night. One year of me carrying her funeral card and eulogy in my wallet. A year learning secrets she had kept, and understanding the depth of her demons. A year of questioning my choice of not going to her the night before and being able to save her, if just for one more day.
I tend to think of her in the strangest of scenarios. When I’m cooking chicken, when I’m taking a selfie in the mirror (how did she hold her phone in her hand the way she did??), when I hear someone say “Alrighty, bye bye”. Little moments that usually make me smile and laugh.
Dear Stacy, you have left a hole that will never be filled in so many people. I wish you peace. Tonight I’ll be meeting with the SFC, and maybe I’ll watch the sun burn the sky down on the island that we called our refuge.
If you or someone you know is dealing with depression, please don’t wait to find help.