Jessica’s last words

I was so touched by this story I am reblogging it.

Her mission is our mission

On March 10, 2015,  my daughter Jessica took out a piece of paper and wrote out one last letter to me. She used a pink marker (her favorite color) as she jotted down her last thoughts. It was her last attempt to explain to me that life had gotten to much for her. That all the bullying and pain that she had endured from the previous year and a half had finally taken over her mind. Helpless and hopeless she ended the pain that she fought so hard to be free of. I know she didn’t do this to hurt me. She was ending her pain and what she thought was a life that couldn’t get better.img_8924-2

I carried a copy of that note in my purse for  3 years. I thought  about what the words meant to me and I decided to have her last thoughts      …

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Ask the Question. Ask the Direct Question.

I was heartbroken to hear of the suicide death of Anthony Bourdain.   I loved his shows about exotic cultures, food, and everyday life in faraway countries.  He always seemed so happy and had a life anyone would envy — traveling all over the world and writing about it for a living is my idea of heaven!  Many people would say the same thing about fashion designer Kate Spade, who also committed suicide earlier this week.

Depression and suicide doesn’t discriminate and can affect even those who seem to have great lives. We just don’t know what sort of inner demons Bourdain (and Kate Spade) struggled with.

If you struggle with depression or have suicidal thoughts or ideation, please reach out and talk to someone you trust. Don’t keep your depression a secret — it’s a medical illness, not something to be ashamed of.

Peace from Panic

(Trigger warning: this post discusses suicide. If you need help, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800)273-8255 or text HOME to the Crisis Text Line in the U.S. at 741741)

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This morning I woke up to the tragic news about chef and travel host, Anthony Bourdain. Death by suicide.

Heartbreaking. And after the shock earlier this week, the suicide death of designer Kate Spade.

My husband and I love to watch Anthony Bourdain’s show on CNN, “Parts Unknown.” He was an amazing storyteller. He traveled to both popular and remote places around the world to get his stories. My favorite episodes were when he visited unknown villages, and I learned about another culture’s cuisine and way of life.

In his interesting, quirky, and cool way, Anthony would sit with locals and have in-depth conversations over a meal. People opened up to him. He had a special way of delving…

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Guest Post (by Anonymous): Thoughts About Suicide and Selfishness.

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The following is a guest post from another blogger who kindly asked me if I would post this.  She is hesitant to link to her blog here, since her blog tends to focus on much lighter content, but still wanted to share her thoughts about this dark subject that’s a real issue for so many people who feel like all hope has been lost, as well as the people who love and care for them.     This blogger is not suicidal, but has been in the past.  I think most of us have considered it as an option at some point in our lives.   We need to stop judging them for it!   It isn’t helpful.

Thoughts about Suicide and Selfishness.

By Anonymous.

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The word itself can be quite triggering to some people… It is taboo and disturbing. What better proof of that, than the fact that I didn’t find the courage to speak out loud in my own blog?

Suicide is something that makes people uncomfortable. One shouldn’t even think about it. It scares, especially if you’ve had depressive episodes in the past. Doesn’t thinking about taking your own life mean you might be thinking about actually doing it?

I don’t think so. I don’t think you have to be a professional, working on serious research to give it a thought or two. I know a lot of people think about it, but just don’t share their thoughts. I am willing to open that door today. But I don’t encourage you to keep reading if you are not comfortable with the subject.

I’d like to point out that I am no professional about the matter. I am not a doctor, or a psychiatrist. I’m just a woman, who went through severe depression at some point in her life, and who had to deal with the idea of ending her days. I’m just the close friend of a good man who did take that step while he was living “The Life.”  But I think my view is worth being shared all the same. The following are just opinions, that you might agree with, or not.

From my experience, most people seem to see suicide as a cowardly act. You’ll often hear the classic “He chose an irreversible solution to a temporary problem”. But when you talk to someone who has just lost a loved one to suicide, the first thought resembles more “How could he do this to me?”

As a society, we tend to blame people who commit suicide of robbing us from someone we cherish. How dare that person be so selfish, that they would choose to leave their family and friends mourning them behind?

When I look back those dark days when I struggled between staying one more day or putting an end to my misery, I see things quite differently. I remember how much I thought about all the people that love me. Going through depression doesn’t mean forgetting your surroundings. If anything, those people were the only reason I hesitated. Had I been truly alone, I would have jumped in a second.

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But I didn’t want my mother, my father and my brother to have to mourn me. Even if I seriously thought living without me would be a good thing in the long run. I knew no letter, no matter how long or how well penned would get them to understand I was right. No matter what I’d leave behind, they would end up suffering. And I could not stomach that.

I lived so they wouldn’t suffer. As simple as that. I ached and fought my demons, day by day, night by night, just so they wouldn’t have to wonder why I chose to rest, at last. Even to this day, I sometimes wish there were words that could explain the pain that rips my very soul when depression hits.

Mental distress is as painful if not worse than physical pain. People who haven’t felt it can’t imagine how real the hurt is. It is not “just” a matter of dark thoughts you can chase away or wait to see go away. And although some people can go through therapy or use medication to make the pain lessen, I believe some others will suffer all their lives.

In some countries, laws give the possibility to people suffering from chronic physical diseases that leave them with no quality of life to choose to end their life with doctors’ help. It is even considered an honorable way to leave this world. I agree that people shouldn’t be forced to live, when the suffering is too much to take. We put down our pets so they won’t have to go through unbearable pain, why should we force people to put up with agony?

I am not encouraging suicide. I think it is a terrible way to die. To hurt so much that you’d rather face mankind’s worst fear is horrible. But I don’t understand why we still tend to blame those who get to that point. No one would blame a cancer patient for losing their fight against that illness. Why do we do so, with mentally ill people?

“They should have asked for help!” you might think…. Which doesn’t make sense to me either. Would you blame your mom for dying from an undiagnosed heart failure?

Some people struggling with mental pain do seek help. But from my experience, a lot of doctors don’t measure the depth of the problem. They can’t see it on a scan, a physical exam, or on an X ray. It is not really their fault, but treatment is often lacking, even if people reach out for help.

I think my point here is just that maybe we should consider suicide a loss like that of any other disease. Families and friends shouldn’t have to deal with shame, and shouldn’t have to play the blaming game. The deceased should be able to rest in peace…

Just rest in peace.

We are at war. What do we do now?

 

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So.  The oligarchs got their wish last night, under cover of darkness.  In secrecy and total lack of transparency, in the dead of a December night, they passed a tax bill that robs the poor and middle class to further enrich the 1% and the corporations.  An almost 500-page document with scribbled handwritten notes was presented to them hours before they had to vote.  This is a terrible way to govern.  It is the way things are done in third world dictatorships.

Not only is this bill, should it become law, going to gut the middle class and cause many of them to fall into poverty, it robs the most vulnerable members of society of healthcare (by repealing the ACA mandate), sneaks in a “fetal personhood” law, and gives huge tax breaks for things like private jets and vacation homes, but takes away the child tax credit for average families and the ability of teachers to deduct necessary things like school supplies.   It also cuts Medicaid and other programs many people rely on.

It also will explode the economy by adding 1.3 trillion to our national debt, which is their legacy to our children and grandchildren.   The GOP is aware of this, and don’t care, because it works for them.   It gives them a handy excuse to gut or eliminate Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare later on (neither Social Security or Medicare are entitlement programs — they are trust funds we’ve been paying into our entire working lives!)   But I don’t expect them to be there when I need them in a few more years.  I have no idea what I’m going to do then.    But the Powers That Be will just find a way to blame the Democrats for the economy collapsing and making it necessary for them to enforce draconian austerity measures that are necessary to repair the economy.  Of course, what they say is all bullshit and is just gaslighting.   They never take any responsibility for the damage they do; all they do is shift the blame to others.

Their ideal America is not one where everyone has an opportunity to succeed and pursue life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.   They prefer one where the rights of most of us are stripped away, where voting is suppressed or we can’t vote at all, where dissenters are punished for having a voice,  where honest and ethical reporters are jailed or silenced, where immigrants are deported or locked up, where toxic authoritarian evangelical Christianity is the law of the land,  where women are chattel and property, where slavery is allowed, and the rest of us serfs toil 6 or 7 days a week (because eventually two day weekends will be abolished as well since that was a right that came about due to labor laws of the early 20th century).  Our lives will be brutal and short, just like they were in the Dark Ages.   At best, their ideal society will be a replay of the Gilded Age, which was a horrible life for most people too.   These criminals running our government won’t be satisfied until not one penny is left for us, where the middle class is gone, and we are living in a feudal society where the mighty oligarchs look down from their gated mansions up on the hill at the great unwashed masses of the impoverished existing in their shanty towns down below.

I need not go on about the horrors of such an America, but it’s what they want and it’s closer at hand than most people realize.    The oligarchs have declared war on us, and their greed knows no limits.   Their God is Mammon.  They will kill us either passively (by taking away our means to live or be healthy) or aggressively (that might be coming) in order to keep enriching themselves and feel not one iota of remorse or regret, for they have no conscience.  They gaslight us by insisting that their greed, meanness, and consciencelessness is somehow “godly” or “defending freedom.”

They lie to us by insisting that “more jobs will be created” if the ultra-rich pay less taxes, but four decades of trickle-down economics and the recessions that always result from GOP economic policies have proven this does not work.   Yet, in their willful ignorance, conservatives keep insisting trickle down economics does work, or that if it hasn’t, this time it will (what’s that saying about insanity and trying the same thing over and over?)  But in reality, it’s we, the so-called “parasites” and “useless eaters” who are the real job creators, because it’s demand for products and services that create jobs, not tax breaks for the rich.  Without us to buy their products and services, they would all go out of business.  If we get to keep more of our money to spend, we buy more and that’s what creates jobs, not tax breaks that are mostly invested in offshore banks and used to buy elections and control politics.   Most economists now agree trickle down economics doesn’t work and only creates more inequality between the richest and everyone else.   The greedy oligarchs, not us, are the real parasites on society.

This isn’t a rant against the rich.   I know most wealthy people aren’t like this.    I think most of the rich are still decent human beings, unwilling to rob the rest of us to line their own pockets, but the ones with the most power and the ones who have bought our government and greatly influence elections — the Kochs, the Mercers, the DeVos family, the Adelsons, etc. — have declared war on the rest of us, helped along by the complicit Republican Party, who are beholden to their oligarch donors.  I think the Citizens United decision was possibly the worst thing to happen to democracy and the death blow that made such a pathocratic, kleptocratic government possible.

I am beyond disappointed and heartsick at Susan Collins’ and John McCain’s decision to vote yes on this bill.  I mistakenly believed they were both people of conscience and would not put party before country, greed over people.  I was wrong.   Back in July, I wrote a glowing tribute to John McCain after his dramatic “no” vote on Obamacare repeal.   I will be removing that post, since he proved last night he’s no different than the rest of them and has sold his soul too.

And now they want to repeal Net Neutrality too, which will mean we will have to pay more to read what we want to read or view what we want to view, or not get to access it at all.   It’s a form of internet censorship, which makes it easier for huge corporations to control the web, at the expense of the small business owners, everyday people, and small-time bloggers like me.    If Net Neutrality is repealed, we bloggers may find our traffic has dropped drastically, since so many people will no longer be able to access our sites.   If we earn an income from blogging, or sell things online, we will be hurt financially by the repeal.   I have an awful feeling it’s going to pass.

I feel like I’m grieving a death, the death of my country.  It’s not a sudden, merciful death; it’s a long, drawn-out painful one.   What makes it worse is knowing that this country that used to be “the shining light on the hill” for the rest of the world, is now seen as an enemy by advanced western democracies, a country that has turned on its own people and is now turning us against each other.   We are no better than a third world dictatorship (with nukes).   The criminal enterprise posing as our government literally is trying to kill us — or make our lives as painful and oppressive as they can until we die.   It’s slow genocide.   That’s not an exaggeration or a conspiracy theory.  These are bad people with evil intentions.   They want us to go away because we are in their way in their quest for unlimited power and wealth.    But eventually it will destroy them too, for without us to buy their goods (or not able to buy their goods), how will they maintain their opulent lifestyles?

When people begin to die, it won’t just be because the poor, the old, the sick, the disabled, and even children will have their social safety net that keeps them alive stripped away and be forced to fend for themselves in an increasingly hostile, repressive, and unhealthy environment.    It won’t just be because the air, water and land they’re deliberately destroying will eventually kill us.  I’ve also seen a number of comments on social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) from people feeling so hopeless and scared they’re  actually considering suicide.   People will kill themselves because they have lost all hope.   They feel like the bullies have won and believe there’s nothing they can do.   We have an abusive president, and an abusive cabal of conscienceless operatives, who want us to feel that way.   They want us feeling worn down, exhausted, and ready to give up — because when we give up, they acquire complete control.   That’s how Hitler was able to get away with his crimes.  The German people were complacent, and with only a few exceptions (White Rose Society), most people gave him the benefit of the doubt or called him a “buffoon” and believed he was a bad or incompetent leader but essentially harmless.  Or they felt so beaten down and afraid they did nothing.    I see many Americans and the American mainstream media acting much the same way.   That has to stop.

They are waging a war on empathy.    Empathy and having a conscience and sense of real morality (not just being anti-abortion and anti-gay) is seen as something bad by this pathocracy who has wrested power and forced their will on us in darkness and secrecy.    They are sociopaths and and narcissists who believe empathy is a weakness, something for “snowflakes” and “those dirty liberals.”  They believe in authoritarian strongmen who show no mercy.    Their spiritual leader is Ayn Rand, who thought empathy was evil and selfishness a virtue.   Her un-Christian, un-American philosophy is hardwired into their minds, even those who profess to be Christians.   This is a spiritual war, a literal war between good and evil.   There can be no goodness in a society that thrives on selfishness, military might, greed, racism, sexism, and hatred.  There can be no goodness in a society where the only measure of a person’s worth is their success in obtaining power and wealth (or their being born into it).  There can be no goodness in a society that treats its most vulnerable members with hard-hearted callousness “for their own good.”

We are facing our shadow, and the sickness in America that has been hidden for at least 40 years is now right on the surface for everyone to see.   That’s good, because it’s not until the symptoms of an illness become visible, that action is taken to eradicate the disease that caused them.   That some choose not to see the symptoms, or believe those symptoms are actually signs of good health, proves how deep and pervasive the sickness really is.   This cancer of selfishness, sociopathy, greed, and narcissism must be eradicated, and fast.

But how do we do it?   Calling our representatives, sending them letters, going to protests, posting snarky memes, signing petitions, and waiting around to vote in rigged elections obviously isn’t enough.   I don’t have any good ideas.   But we must keep fighting this malicious power however we can (without breaking the law — for now at least) and never, ever give up.   It’s when we give up that it’s all over and they own us to do whatever they want with.  Let’s learn from Nazi Germany and not allow what happened there happen here.   Let’s brainstorm together.   But how do we keep fighting evil without succumbing to despair and hopelessness?   I don’t know.

I did have one thought.  We could register as Republicans (as odious as that is).  That would throw a monkey wrench into their voter suppression efforts and also keep us from being tracked down and surveilled.   We could still vote for who we want to vote for.  What do you think?

As down as I feel today, this clip from “Animal House” put a smile on my face.  Bluto is right — let’s get going!   #Resist!

You are also invited to join my Facebook group if you’re wrestling with Trump trauma like I am.   You will be required to answer one question.  Trump supporters are not welcome.

https://luckyottershaven.com/2017/02/18/post-trump-trauma-support-group/

Please stop calling suicide victims ‘selfish’ or ‘weak.’ (reblog)

One of the best blogs I’ve recently discovered is John Pavlovitz’s blog “Stuff That Needs to Be Said.”  Pavlovitz is a Christian pastor, but he is different because he abhors what has become “conservatism” and is an active member of the resistance.  Like Jesus himself, he is compassionate and bravely defends all those who are vulnerable or “different,” including groups many fake Christians hate and fear, such as the LGBTQ population and Muslim immigrants.

Every day, Mr. Pavlovitz writes impassioned, brutally honest posts calling out the darkness and evil so many of us see in the new White House and in the greater society.   I love what he has to say and I love the way he writes.  But he doesn’t write exclusively about the political situation.   In this post, he calls out those who accuse Linkin Park’s frontman Chester Bennington as weak and selfish for killing himself on Friday — and in so doing, defends all people who have sunk into such despair and hopelessness that they think suicide is their only way out.

Please Stop Calling Suicide Victims “Weak” and “Selfish”

By John Pavlovitz

Chester

Soon after news broke about the death of Linkin Park singer Chester Bennington, amid the flood of condolences and the raw expressions of grief and shock—came the others; the ones who are never far, always hiding just out of view, ever ready to crawl from out from the cracks.

In moments like these, they surface to offer flippant, callous, armchair sermons about how selfish suicide is, about how cowardly the dead person was, about why he or she should have thought of their children, spouses, loved ones.
They add insult to fatal injury by heaping shame upon a suffering that had already proven to be too much to bear for someone.
These people somehow feel fine critiquing dead strangers, before they’ve even been buried.

I’ve come to realize that there is only one kind of person who says things like this about those who take their own lives: a person who has never been where Chester Bennington was in his final moments, or where Chris Cornell was, or where 121 people in the US are every single day—where many are in the seconds it takes for you to read these words. The people who say such things, are those who’ve never (because of mental illness or acute trauma or severe addiction), been pushed to the precipice of their very will to live. They are people who (fortunately for them) have the luxury of their ignorance, who’ve never walked through this unrivaled internal Hell and wanted nothing more than to get out.

Read the rest of John’s post here

And follow his amazing blog!

 

 

Unnecessariat

This is an incredibly well written and deeply disturbing post that went viral when it was posted and I completely missed until today. The early die-off of poor and formerly middle class whites may be an intentional progression of the social Darwinism that is hobbling this once-great nation.   If it works, you know what will happen next. The “fittest”–the wealthy survivors who thrive under the new and “improved” global economy–will also be the most sociopathic and narcissistic. With the great die-off, will empathy become as extinct as the dodo bird? I wonder.

More Crows than Eagles

I remember AIDS. I’m older than you probably think I am, and I remember what AIDS in America meant in the eighties, when William F. Buckley suggested all “carriers” be tattooed, and the Wizard of Id got in trouble in Canada (fr) for a joke in which Robbing Hood’s “Merry Men” were rounded up into quarantine camps. Mostly what I remember is the darkness- the world seemed apocalyptic. Everyone, at least in the gay men’s community, seemed to be sick, or dying, or taking care of someone else who was sick or dying, or else hurling themselves headlong into increasingly desperate and dramatic activism the like of which has hardly been seen since. I was actually watching the MacNeil/Lehrer news hour when ACT-UP broke in and nearly handcuffed Robert MacNeil to his desk. The tenor is just unreproducible; you get a taste of it in some of Sarah Schulman’s…

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More narcissist word salad.

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I found this rambling diatribe on a forum for bereaved parents. I understand there is always anger during the grieving process, even toward the deceased, but the entire manner and tone of this post, as well as the whiney, self-pitying, blaming attitude and total lack of empathy for her deceased child’s emotional needs, screams NPD. I didn’t see any other posts by this author on the forum. Note the contradictions and inconsistencies, the irrelevant interjections, and the total disregard for her child’s emotional (as opposed to material) needs.

I’m suspecting the deceased daughter was the family scapegoat, who she seems to regard unfavorably. It doesn’t surprise me too much she would have been suicidal.

Hello, I hope you can all help me figure out what I’m supposed to do. I can’t stop crying the tears are always right on the surface, I had to quit my job because of what an emotional wreck I am. You can’t have someone running a busy, productive office if they’re always mopping up their eyes with mascara streaks everywhere and blowing their nose, can you. I never used to be like that. I could always hold my composure, which is why I always make a good impression on interviews and why I always get promoted. Well, not anymore, so I had to quit. I couldn’t concentrate. It was quit or be fired! What has made me such an emotional basket case is this. My beautiful, perfect daughter killed herself in January. She was 18. She swallowed a bottle of pills and downed them with liquor. I always told her she should go to AA because of her drinking but she never listened. She never did what I or her father advised. Oh, she was a rebel. Always a spitfire. After she did this she did not call anyone and she didn’t leave a note. Of course this shattered me, her father, and her brothers and sister, who all of us only tried to help her. We didn’t deserve to have her do this to us. She always got everything she always wanted. She wanted to be in pageants when she was a little girl, so we spent thousands of dollars on dresses, tiaras, fees, hotels, etc. and we never pushed her, she wanted to do this. But she changed her mind when she was 12 and decided she didn’t like it anymore. All that money we spent for no reason. She got everything–the new car, the computer, the new big screen TV, the gadgets, all the clothes, makeup, jewelry, everything she wanted! She had no reason to be depressed! Last Christmas we took her on an expensive Ski trip to Colorado and she spent the entire time watching TV instead of out on the slopes. We tried to talk to her but she wouldn’t budge, just sit there sullenly sulking and making things very unpleasant for the rest of us. She was never an easy child, no sirree! She was a fussy baby who cried all night and all day, a tantrum throwing toddler, an unruly child, a rebellious teenager. Even when I was pregnant she gave me trouble. I developed gestational diabetes when I was pregnant with her (not with my first two children, she was my third) and I threw up almost every day for the entire nine months! Maybe we gave her too many things, but we always tried everything to make her happy. I just don’t understand how a child who is given everything–all the expensive and beautiful clothes, good food and plenty of it, good schools, a nice room with her own bathroom and sitting area, how a child like that can be so unhappy. She acted like she hated me! I never did anything to her, I was always giving her what she wanted and trying to make her happy! I was a good mom, even my other children always tells me what a good mother I am and my friends think so too! They are jealous because I am such a good mother and they have so much to learn. I don’t know what I did to deserve a child who acted like she hated me and then had to go and make things even worse by killing herself. The ultimate slap in the face! I just don’t know what to do, where did I go wrong? This should never have happened! If she had not been so hard headed and done the things we told her to do (like go into real estate–her father is a successful Realtor) [My note: You said your daughter was 18 so that makes no sense!] instead of pursuing all these wild pipe dreams then she would have been happy and would not have done this horrible thing to her family. And not even have the decency to leave a note? Please tell me what I can do to cope with this mess. Oh god, I’m crying again. Please help me.

“Back from the Edge”–video about borderline personality disorder

Here is an excellent and informative video featuring three people who suffered and were successfully treated for their BPD. Marsha Linehan, a psychologist who also had BPD and developed DBT therapy for borderline patients, is also featured, as well as Otto Kernberg, an psychologist who specializes in NPD and BPD.

BPD is best defined as a severe lack of a sense of self which has its roots in abuse and often sexual abuse during childhood and adolescence but it also has a genetic component. Brain scans of people with BPD show their brains are actually wired differently. Self destructive behaviors such as cutting serve to help the sufferer regulate their emotions for the short term. Borderlines find their inability to regulate their emotions so painful and debilitating that many resort to suicide. One shocking statistic is that 8 – 10% of borderlines will ultimately either kill themselves or die of their self destructive behaviors.

Unlike people with NPD, medications that “turn off” the parts of the brain that overreact to emotional stimuli have been successful for treating and controlling BPD symptoms. Also, while people with BPD are more impaired in being able to function than people with NPD, therapy is much more likely to be successful.

Suicide: A Mental Health Perspective

Just Plain Ol’ Vic asked me to reblog this powerful post about suicide and the judgment of others about that act of desperation. I agree with him about the importance of this serious mental health issue.Every day lives are lost due to suicide and their shocked loved ones must cope with feelings of grief, shock and bewilderment. I think comments like the quoted one about suicide being a selfish act are immensely insensitive and obtuse.

I feel like I’m a bad friend.

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Tonight on a whim I looked up an old Facebook friend I hadn’t talked to since 2012 (we had been close from 2009-2011) and was shocked and very upset to learn that she died this past September of Merkel cell carcinoma. She’d had to have part of her jaw and her lips removed and I even saw her post that first announced her terminal cancer diagnosis. She asked for prayers.

I never knew. I never bothered to check in on her until tonight and felt just awful about not having been there at all for her while she was in so much pain and dying. I left a post on her wall (which is still up) telling her to rest in peace and how sorry I was. What else can you say to a dead friend you abandoned? Sure, she was only a Facebook friend but I still feel like an insensitive heel.

About two years ago, another casual friend, someone I had actually known through work who ran a blog about living in poverty in the United States, and who was known to have suffered from major depression, committed suicide. I hadn’t talked to her in several months, and it was her husband who posted about her death on her wall. I learned this horrible news THE DAY AFTER she killed herself. All I could do was offer some kind words to her bereaved husband, who had loved her very much and was understandably devastated. I felt ashamed at not having talked to this woman during the months prior to her suicide and was almost too embarrassed to say anything to her husband.

I always seem to find out bad news about friends and people I used to know on Facebook, which is another reason I don’t like Facebook too much.

But neither of these things are as terrible as the way I treated a close friend of mine from back in the 1980s. Robert was gay and he was one of my best friends for several years. We used to have a blast together, and were even roommates for awhile. I remember planning his 21st birthday party and how much fun it turned out to be (and I hate parties!)

But Robert was also promiscuous and brought strange men home while we were roommates. He also developed schizophrenia around this time, and due to both his bringing men I didn’t know to the apartment and his declining mental condition, I had no other choice but to move out. We continued to remain in touch occasionally even after I married, but over time, as friendships do when lives go in different directions, we lost contact and stopped speaking.

betrayal

Just after my son was born in 1991, I received a phone call from Robert’s sister. She told me Robert was in the hospital and very close to death. He had AIDS and had lost his vision and his mind, and was no longer able to feed himself and had to be cared for like an infant. It occurred to me he probably already had AIDS during the time I knew him. I was shocked at the news and promised to come visit him in the hospital, but I never did. In all honesty, I was afraid to see him like that and chickened out, even though I had intended to go.

He died two weeks later. His sister called again and invited me to the funeral. Again, I didn’t attend because of the guilt I felt over having abandoned him and never visited him in the hospital.

I realized later how selfish this was of me, only caring about my own needs and feeling like seeing him like that would be too upsetting and just plain weird. My friend needed me when he was dying and I let him down. I never forgave myself for that and still pray for God to forgive me for my selfishness. I’m sure He has, but I never really forgave myself.

That’s why I feel like I’m a terrible friend and maybe don’t deserve to have any.