IT was the phone call that you think that you will never get, and afterward pray that you never do again. Halfway through a nondescript working weekday my mobile buzzed into life. I was halfway through throwing the assorted detritus of my desk into my bag, and so debated taking the call, but when I saw that it was from my best friend, decided to pick up.
As I was talking to my bestie, I thought the usual funny voice answer would be appropriate.
There was no funny response. “It’s bad news. J*** killed herself yesterday”.
If my life was a Hollywood movie, this was the moment that Spielberg zooms the camera in on me like Roy Schneider in ‘Jaws’. For all my love of language, an earthy Anglo Saxon expletive was all I could manage.
J*** had been found by her family in the contained apartment that she lived in in the family home. It was February 14. Valentine’s night. The paramedics were called but there was nothing that they could do.
A former beauty pageant winner, actress and model, I first met J*** when La Mari from Chambao played a free concert last summer. Absolutely stunning in a boho dress and brilliant beaming smile, I also soon discovered that she had the filthiest laugh on the planet. We hit it off immediately.
I invited her to my birthday bash in January, but she left me a voice message apologising, but we would meet up for a coffee and a con gas soon “Besos. Love” she signed off.
That was the last I heard from her.
I have personal experience with suicide. It took a family member. So I was relatively prepared for what we all felt next. If only we had called. Why didn’t we recognise the (now obvious) signs? Why hadn’t she let us know what she was feeling? The utter helplessness was visceral.
The funeral was brief but devastating. I have buried enough close friends over the years, so though I was immune to the proceedings. But there was an uncomprehending anguish to her family’s cries that shook all of us.
After the ceremony, I walked around the corner to cry. One of my goddaughters came up behind me. “You’re not supposed to see this,” I half laughed.
I wish there was some words of comfort, or some life lesson that I could impart. But all I can offer is that if you feel the world is too much, take the hardest option. Talk to someone. Talk to anyone. You are never alone.
The day after J***’s death I had a radio show. For the last song, I chose Chambao – with who she will always be linked in my mind – turned the microphone fader down and dissolved into tears in my chair.
Tread softly J***. I pray you have found the peace that you were searching for.
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