Today should have been a beautiful, if troubled, young girl’s 21st birthday.
Instead, I scroll through her Facebook wall, watching her friends and family bravely wish her a wonderful day “partying with the angels”, prayers and missing a gentle spirit who buckled beneath the weight of the world. Her mother posting is particularly poignant, and my heart rips out for her.
I remember, instead, how I could have been her.
Nikki dated my brother for a long time, and remained friends later on. She and I related on many levels, given our mutual battles with mood and self-destruction. The last time I actually saw her was years ago, and we huddled together alone in my brother’s room, with Nikki pouring her heart out, explaining her struggles, explaining what drove her to drink, take drugs, harm herself in so many ways. I gave her all that I could, urged her to always call me, whenever.
When my brother broke up with her, not out of lack of love, she phoned me. We talked for days, me in this awkward position of understanding my brother’s choice and also knowing how devastated she was. I encouraged her to grow, to be strong, to hang on. To call me.
No matter how strong Nikki was, her frequent abuses took their toll. What began as a visit to the ER for unexplained and serious illness turned into organ failure, coma, then death at the age of 20.
A part of me regrets not messaging more often, not calling her up. A part of me regrets things as simple as not being at festivals she attended that I would have liked to, for reasons that now seem trivial. As I sat in an enormous church, it struck me what everyone had lost.
I couldn’t ever forsake her or condemn her for her pain; I once was the same. For whatever reason, I was spared. I suppose I stopped in time to understand what today’s song articulates so well in each chorus.
I hope your birthday, wherever you are, was a day when you felt loved beyond measure, sweetheart. Because you are, by so many people.
“you and I we’re like 4 year olds – we want to know why and how come about everything
we want to reveal ourselves at will and speak our minds and never talk small and be intuitive
and question mightily and find god
my tortured beacon
we need to find like-minded companions
if we were their condemnations
if we were their projections
if we were our paranoias i’d be joining you
if we were our incomes
if we were our obsession
if we were our afflictions i’d be joining you
we need reflection we need a really good memory
feel free to call me a little more often”
Day 351: Joining You – Alanis Morissette