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August began with the tears of goodbye, hidden in the boiler room of my basement. The dripping sound from the water heater and the cold darkness helped dampen the grief of my Mom moving away. Moving away for who-knows-how-long to the Dominican Republic. I knew she would get taken care of there and she could lay by the ocean and find some peace with her breast cancer diagnosis. It had only been a month since the doctors confirmed it-- fast-growing stage 3 metastatic breast cancer. It wasn't even real to me until my Mom quit her job, sold our house, sold her car, and moved us in with our Dad. He was just as perplexed as I was. It was all happening too fast. It felt like we were on a train barreling toward a cliff with no plans for stopping or slowing down.
She told us that she would be back soon, and kissed me on the forehead. But there was something about the unpredictability of her illness that made me wonder if this was the ultimate goodbye. The last hug. The last kiss. The last words. She reassured me that she would be back, and cured of the disease that there is no cure for. I put her on the plane thinking that I would never see her again. My dearest mother seemed gone. It really was the end of life as I knew it. Nothing would ever return to the way it had been.
After my Mom left, I was lucky enough to meet the first person I had ever fallen in love with. On our first date, we went mountain biking. He was the smartest, funniest, dorkiest person I'd ever known. He could speak three languages, was a genius with computers, and could outsmart just about anyone. He and I had what seemed to be a perfect, impervious relationship. Until it was shattered by the most unexpected tragedy--my dearest had attempted suicide.
He called me one evening, twenty minutes before I sat down for dinner, to deliver the heart-wrenching news. There was no pain or sadness in his voice when he told me. No tone of regret. He explained, coldy and calmly, that he had taken an entire bottle of his migraine medication. His little brother had found him on his bathroom floor--not breathing, not responding.
The images that came to my mind were excruciatingly lurid and sharp. Him sprawled on a white tile floor, head shlumped against the base of the sink, face pallid, body limp and cold, eyes blank, mouth open. And then his brother, calling around the house when he got home from school, searching for him so that he could tell him what a great day it had been, only to find him half alive on the bathroom floor. Having to call an ambulance. Having to tell his mom. Watching as the paramedics rolled him out on a gurney to an ambulance. Watching them pump his stomach, ventilate him, and try to restart his heart.
After recovering in the hospital, he was transported to the mental hospital, where he was to be held until the doctors deemed him stable enough to return home. He had been allowed a phone call a week after everything had happened. And that is when he told me. It was also the day he told me that he loved me for the first time.
I was awoken from my state of shock by my Dad calling for dinner. I said goodbye to Him, hung up the phone, and sat down for dinner. I didn't eat anything or say anything. My Dad could tell something was wrong, but he didn't ask about it. And for that I was grateful.
For months, we worked through all of his problems together. I paid more attention to how he felt and to what was going on in his life. But, in doing so, I neglected myself and my own life. My Mom was still away, and I often went two months without hearing a word from her. I was miserable in school and had no real friends. I hadn't told anyone about anything that had happened with His suicide attempt. I was depressed and reclussive, but I refused to address it. My classmates, my teachers, and my family would ask me what was wrong, and I would deny that anything was. I told them they just didn't know me, and couldn't see that I was perfectly fine. I covered up the pain. Nobody could know that I was as was just as depressed as He had been.
There were many nights I contemplated the End. The only thing that kept me from taking my life was thinking about my Mom. I wanted to see her come back. I wanted to hug her and talk to her. I wanted to see her smile and hear her laugh. I wanted her to have someone to come home to.
It took me many months of therapy, but I learned how to control my depression and my anxiety; moreover, I learned that it was okay to let myself be helped. Humans are flawed, we bend and we break. We lose our way. Sometimes, a little help can make the difference between true happiness and depression.
And then the moment I thought things were finally on the upturn, the boy I'd loved for more than a year--whose side I had stuck by through a suicide attempt--told me that he was struggling with alcoholism and smoking. Keep in mind that I was only fifteen when this all happened. Before that point in my life, I had never been around someone who smoked, did drugs, or drank. To me, this was a foreign atrocity. It was unthinkable to me that someone my age would be struggling with issues as monumental as these.
Even after the hell I had been through recovering from his problems and mine, I still loved him. But, I knew that he was no good for me and that there was no way I could ever live a life with him in it if I wanted to be happy. So, I told him goodbye.
The school year ended, summer came, and I had finally found some peace. I had a new perspective on life, my Mom came back, He was out of my life and no longer causing me pain, and all of the dead weight that I had been carrying around was gone. I launched myself forward, into my sophomore year. Instead of dwelling on the wreckage of my past and the obstacles underfoot, I looked ahead to college, success, friendships, and living in control of my own life.
We are always told that everything must end, but most of us are still frightened by that idea--the idea that love ends, jobs end, school ends, friendships end, and everything ends. To me, endings aren't so scary now, they are even welcome. Even death, the inevitable ending, doesn't frighten me, whether or not it's my own.