Today someone asked me if I was okay. Wait–is it not okay to eat lunch alone between bookshelves in the downstairs of a library? Out loud I said, “Yeah, I am. You?” I know he was trying to be kind, but that question has plagued me for too many years, and I’m tired of it. Anyway, here’s the second of four parts of a short story I wrote about what could happen after I killed myself.
At the viewing my five-year-old friend Kimmy couldn’t understand why I looked so stiff and horrible. She realized for the first time that death is not quite like sleeping after all. My aunt Deborah felt her eyes prick when she noticed the acne under my heavy makeup. I was still a child, really.
My closest non-LDS friend, Daniel, didn’t attend the viewing or the funeral. He never heard the uplifting hymns about resurrection and was never able to fully share his grief with anyone. It seemed he shut down a bit after I killed myself. Like maybe some part of him had decided life was different than how he understood it before. I saw him the next autumn though, at my gravestone. I didn’t understand why, but he dumped a pile of crumpled papers at its base as tears fell down his face and off his nose.
The people I loved moved on, as I had mostly expected them to. My older siblings were very upset, but they continued with life. My brother had a baby the next year in October, and her middle name was Ellen, like mine. My little sister became more jaded and sarcastic, like I did when I lost my best friend junior year.
Some people never found out what happened, like my university classmates. For the first few weeks after I killed myself, they glanced at my empty seat and wondered if I had dropped the class. The mailwoman who had delivered my biweekly letters to Aidan started to wonder what had happened to the girl with the prettily decorated envelopes.
Most people didn’t remember me right. They thought I was shorter than I had been. Depending on who you asked, I had blue, gray, or hazel eyes. Some were convinced I had enjoyed bands I’d never heard of, or that my favorite color was purple.
But those were the lucky ones. For many months, the people who had known me intimately and loved me anyway saw me every time they closed their eyes. My face was a matched set with too many strangers to be fair. I was like a headache that wouldn’t subside. Even those who had the Gospel, who knew I was in an okay place and would see them again, felt the strain. So many of them felt responsible for me killing myself.