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13 October 2006
Yesterday morning, another plane slammed into another building in New York. No terrorist attack this time, but it brought the end to the life of a young baseball player and the world for his friends and family changed in that brief instant.
This morning I woke up with a dog flying into the air and landing on my stomach. The dogs and I had our usual cuddle time. Tummy skritches, ear skritches and finally Lizzie leaping happily, over and over again, as I got up to start the day.
I went into the bathroom to brush my teeth and then, as Lizzie leaped on me again, I told the dogs I would feed them as soon as I read e-mail.
To my surprise, there was a message from Peggy, who writes less frequently now. Since I had only heard from her two days ago, an e-mail so soon was a surprise. "Bad news" it was entitled. That's never a good way to start, but the news that it contained came from so far in left field that I felt as if a plane had crashed into the side of the building and shaken it to its core.
Peggy's friend Janne had come home from work to find that Chris, had committed suicide.
As the news sank in, I sat here, sobbing, my mind going back over the time I had spent with Janne and Chris when I was in Australia, how we'd laughed, and the chats Chris and I had together, when Peggy and Janne were off in another part of the house. I remembered the laughs the four of us had shared the day we all went to play miniature golf (ironically, three years ago yesterday)
I remember how much fun we had and how excited Chris was the day that she, Peggy and I all bought identical little pocket cameras and learned how to use them....
...and how we had to label them so we could tell whose was whose.
I remembered how we laughed the night Janne and Chris came for dinner and to watch a footy game, and how I moved my plate to the far end of the dinner table so as not to block their view of the television set, and how much we laughed about the photo that I took.
I remembered how much fun it was when either Janne or Chris just stopped by for coffee or a chat, and how I came to feel that they had become good friends.
I remembered my last night in Perth, when we went out to dinner in a big group and then home again. I remember sitting on a couch with Chris while Peggy and Janne went out for a smoke. Chris and I cried about my impending departure and we talked about all the things we would do when I returned again in a couple of years, something that never happened.
In the years since I've been back in the U.S., Chris wrote to me, first regularly, and then irregularly. When I was there, she was going to "uni" (the university) to get her teacher's credential and just so thrilled at working with the little children. How she loved those little kids! The last time I heard from her, she was doing student teaching.
I remember her excitement when her son and his wife were expecting their first child, and the love that poured out of her whenever she wrote about her grandson.
What drives a person to end her life? When does life get so unbearable that the only recourse is to end it? Suicide may be the most selfish act a person can ever commit, given the pain and guilt that it leaves the people who are left behind. But when you are drowning in such blackness, I think it's not possible to think about what you are doing to people who love you. You only want the pain to stop, no matter what it takes.
I don't know what Chris's pain was. I hope she has found the peace she was seeking. She has left behind a lot of people who loved her -- myself included -- and I hope that, somehow, she now knows that.
PHOTO OF THE DAY
Chris at her 50th birthday party
This is Journal entry #2388