Monday 17 February 2014

Somewhere between the time you arrive, and the time you go

It's been a quiet weekend.

Excuse the ladders in the background; my neighbour is having some work done on his house.

I'm a little thoughtful and melancholy, to tell you the truth.

I heard last week that an old friend has died. She killed herself. I'm really shocked and saddened.

I hadn't been in touch with her for over 20 years, so I don't know how justified it is to claim friendship.

We were friends, back in our university days, and some time beyond. I have photos from her 21st birthday party, and her wedding. There was a group of us who did the same degree course and had a wonderful time together. I've been looking back at my photos from that time, and they still make me smile.

I have very happy memories of a cheerful, bright, funny, warm young woman, who was eminently more grounded and sensible than many of us, myself included. She was good-hearted and good-humoured, and I remember her with huge fondness.

So what happens to make people drift apart? I really enjoyed her company, why didn't I make more effort to keep this woman's delightful presence in my life?

I suppose it happens to most of us; we meet people, become friends, like them very much, but the relationship somehow doesn't survive the changes of direction we take and the distances we travel, we become immersed in the here-and-now and don't have the time or energy to keep every friendship going.

I can't tell you how much I regret this now.

Having had a career in mental health, I know only too well the savage blows dealt by depression to a person's view of themselves, the world around them, and their future. I have no idea what external events or internal struggles occurred which led my friend to a place of such despair that suicide was the only solution she could find.

I also know what a terrible legacy suicide leaves behind. Any death is tragic and sad, especially of someone relatively young. But this death, this ending, is particularly hard to deal with for those who loved, supported, tried to help, but feel they failed. The guilt adds extra pain to the sense of loss and grief.

I'm sorry if the outfit photos seem incongruous, but it's a formula, I suppose, the structure on which to hang this post.

Don't feel you have to comment on the clothes; it can be so awkward, can't it, trying to make a thoughtful response to a post about something serious, then feeling the need to say nice boots...

Life is full of such incongruity, significant events butt up against the everyday, the world has changed yet it carries on regardless.

In my little world, this news has made me feel great sadness and regret. I can only imagine how these emotions are multiplied for my friend's family and loved ones.

My mate Martin and me, at our friend's wedding, 1989.

It has also been a catalyst for renewed communication between some of the old gang. I'm hoping we might be in more regular contact now, and perhaps get together sometime.

We'll raise a glass to absent friends, I'm sure.




Ivy Black said...

Sorry to hear that love. A great shame. I think times like this do make us seek out people we'd lost touch with and value our friendships all the more.
Take care.
Loves ya.

Asparagus Pea said...

Those time capsule frienships are just as precious. Fragments of who we once were and the making of who we are now. But suicide is a really tough one - there's no words to soothe the brutality of it xxx

Vix said...

Oh, how very sad.
An old school friend died from breast cancer days before I went away, I felt sad we hadn't been in touch for years and that I was able to lay my hand on a photo of me and her at a disco almost immediately - Terrible news like that does make us stop and think and to value our friendships, it is so easy to take things for granted.
Love that photo of you and Martin, rocking the spiral perm there, weren't you?
Nothing incongruous about posting an outfit, particularly one as bright and beautiful as that one. Clothes serve as an ice-breaker and a point of contact, I bet many an old lady who stops to admire something I'm wearing does it to make conversation rather than to really know what fabric it's made from.
Here's to absent friends and to a reunion of good friends very soon. Love you xxxxxxxx

freckleface said...

Yes, that's heartbreaking. Poor love! A few years ago a friend of mine tried. I was shocked when she told me, but she had very valid reasons. But i remember having to have two very different conversations with her and her boyfriend. They were in different places, as you say. I work in a bereavement team and we hear some awful stories. It takes the families years to come to peace, if they ever do. Big bad grown up stuff. I feel for you Curtise. Life is hard and fleeting and stuff like this makes you pause and think. So cuddle your lovely kids and make the most of the good bits, i reckon. Xxxxx p.s. Maybe not such a good time, but i was just about to send you a note to say, i'm back! New domain name is

Sarah Jane said...

Wow, Curtise I really don't know what to say. What sad news. Suicide is so brutal in its finality and the repercussions are far reaching, even when it's someone you've long lost touch with. I often feel sad for lost friendships. It is definitely like a mourning experience. At least something positive may come out of the renewed contact with your old friends xx

Shawna McComber said...

I'm relatively new to your blog so it doesn't feel totally appropriate to offer my thoughts on this, but I appreciate that you wrote about it. I too have this type of friend, people from the past I have not stopped caring about but have drifted away from. I think that a death always leaves the survivors with guilt of some type and the I should have stayed in touch type of guilt is probably felt by many of us eventually.

I'm sorry for the pain she suffered and for the pain of those she has left behind.

Marjorie said...

I am sorry to hear about your friend. Sometimes life seems to make us lose touch with those we care about. Hugs.

Peaches McGinty said...

It is such sad news, I'm so so sorry Curtise, a very close family member has had quite a severe and lengthy 'episode', a breakdown and other issues, but the torment and anguish they suffered during this time was so so difficult, thinking ahead, thinking all the time, second guessing what they mean, luckily they are on the mend, and I feel it is lucky because I know how dark it got - I'm sure your old gang will meet up and raise a glass to a dear, absent friend x x x

Angels have Red Hair said...

I think friendships go through natural progressions ... but just because we may not be seeing each other ... doesn't mean we are no longer friends. If you can see someone after a long separation and carry on like it was yesterday ... then they are a friend.
Sadly ... you won't get that opportunity in this case. I hope she is at peace now ... and sending warmest wishes to all those she has left behind.

Patti said...

Life is so fragile. So sorry to hear this sad news. I work with suicide regularly and you are right, it leaves a tragic aftermath. My heart hurts for your friend's family.

This is so well said, too "we become immersed in the here-and-now and don't have the time or energy to keep every friendship going." I am inspired by this to send a few emails today.

Miss Magpie said...

Too, too sad. It's news like that that really does make you pause and think.
It just seems to be the way of life that some people come and go without there being a falling out or break-up as such. You just end up moving in different directions. x x

Val said...

That is such a shame, but as you said, you have no idea what transpired that made her want to take her own life. It's very selfish, but it's also the ultimate control that we are given in this world. Maybe she truly is in a better place now.

Melancholy and Menace said...

My heart goes out to her friends and family, and to you my dear, this is truly sad news.

We do lose touch with so many friends, people we've shared the most amazig experiences with, btu who knows why. A new relatioship or job that keeps us busy, our friends find other friends and so we drift apart.

Depression is more serious than most realise.

Take care xx

sonia said...

I'm sorry to hear about your friend. I had someone close to me commit suicide when I was a teenager and it is very sad and shocking.
ps: love your outfit and the picture of you at the wedding. Actually, your pic reminds me why I love the late 80's and early 90's. You look just like you stepped out of "Four Weddings..." Love it.

Kylie said...

That is very sad Curtise. Thinking of you x

Unknown said...

gosh how terribly terribly sad! so sorry xxxx

Kezzie said...

That's horrible news, I am so sorry. I know what you mean about losing contact, you just feel horrible.
A couple of years ago, I met a wonderful oboe player. He was so funny, so witty and I liked his company very much. We always used to laugh together at rehearsals and he'd steal my hats and wear them. He seemed so happy. He had a girlfriend who I knew apparently although we never ended up doing gigs at the same time. I remember phoning him up once when I was depressed with my PGCE and him cheering me up at a gig. Anyway, what with teaching and the suchlike, I lost touch with him and stopped playing with that orchestra. Then a couple of years afterwards, I met his girlfriend (who I forgot was his girlfriend). She mentioned Pete and I said how is he and she said that he had committed suicide. Apparently he was a manic depressive. And I never knew. Amazing what you can miss or not know. I felt terrible about it. x

Incongruous though it is for me then to comment on the following, those are fabulous tights!! xx

silvergirl said...

I always think friends come in different seasons of our life
Hopefully they have a positive impact on our lives and vice versa
Some stay for more than one season and some move on
The memories are what keep the friendship alive.
I am so sorry to hear about your friend

Beth Waltz said...

The 'skeleton' is always present at the feast of life, but usually overlooked by those preparing or enjoying it.

Perhaps that's as it should be, but it's nonetheless a painful shock when the thing falls over.

Please accept my condolences on the loss of your friend.

Sheila said...

Oh, that is so sad. We lost a friend to depression about 20 years ago, when we were all in our mid- to late-20s. It was such a shock and we felt like somehow we should have known, that we should have been able to help or do something. I still miss our friend, and wish he could have just waited a little longer, until the sun shone for him again.

Hugs to you, Curtisse.

Sue said...

Sad news indeed. One of my very good friends youngest daughter committed suicide at 14 and it was a very dark time for us all. As a mother that is one of my fears that one of my sons would take their own life, what are the signs? As for drifting apart that happens to alot of friends and sometimes you do reconnect and sometimes not, so please do not feel bad. On a cherry note tho, I love you in BLUE!! You very much suit that shade of blue even tho you were blue at the time. Hope you are feeling happier and enjoy catching up with your other old friends.

Unknown said...

To absent friends! ....I think I will go and call an old friend I haven't been in touch with for ages. We drifted apart after I settled down and she kept partying and I miss her so much. I am so sorry for your old pal - I can't even imagine how low a person needs to feel before suicide is the only answer. XXX

Olga Rani said...

Sorry to hear about your friend's death. And I understand your feeling too well. I too experienced guilt about not spending more time, not showing more love after one of my close friends got killed in an accident. And suicide is much worse...
You look so cute on that old photo. Actually I has exactly same hairstyle in those years.

Camelia Crinoline said...

I'm sorry about your friend. It can be quite a shock when you find out that someone from your past has died even if you were no longer in touch.

Unknown said...

So sad ... life takes such strange ways and why do we loose our friends ? The ones we were so cloose to disapers , is it ment to be that way or are we letting go ?

Caroline said...

Someone I know committed suicide a few years ago. I hadn't seen him for a few years either. It was sad to find out though.

Like Kezzie says, people may have MH issues that they hide. I was very guarded about my depression.

I hope you and your other friends can stay in touch, even if it's just reminisce about old times, once in while, and laugh about your Bon Jovi perms. I had one too.

Indigo Violet said...

Your friend must have been so ill, that is dreadful news.
Last year I went to a childhood friend's father's funeral, and it felt a bit awkward as I haven't seen the family for decades. I was glad I went, because although my friend wasn't there (as she lives in England and I am in NZ) we have made contact and hope to get together this year. So something positive came out of it in the end, and I hope something good grows from your experience.

Señora Allnut said...

it's so sad and so hard to manage the guilt, you're right, it's particularly difficult for the family and friends!
And now I'm thinking about my own old friends, university mates which I was very fond of. Some of us are still in contact, even though we were living really far away each other. There are other people I've never saw for years. Life's ups and downs!
hope you recover your mood as usual as possible!
besos & abrazos

Vicky Hayes said...

It's not possible for non-depressed people to make sense of depressed people because they're not singing from the same hymn sheet at all. The far too early death of a peer brings us all up short anyway though and gives us an uncomfortable glimpse of our own mortality. I'm glad it's helping the rest of you to reconnect. I believe that forming relationships with others is a big part of what life is about. Vicky x

PS I DO love the boots! x

Diane said...

That is so sad. We do lose contact with some friends in our everyday life - for no reason at all except that it is time consuming and impractical to do so sometimes. I've found facebook a great way to reconnect with some lost friends, but not everybody in my age group is on there. xxxxxxxx

The Style Crone said...

So sad to hear the news of the suicide of your friend. Death is difficult, but suicide, as you so eloquently state, is a brutal loss with multiple after shocks.

I'm sure that you and your friends will provide comfort to one another as you deal with this tragic loss. Thinking of you, Curtise.

Suzanne said...

How terribly sad and shocking. Suicide leaves a gaping hole in those left behind.

It is an opportunity to reflect more on life and not take it for granted.


Debberoo said...

I'm so sorry Curts.

Goody said...

I'm so sorry about your friend, it must have come as quite a shock.

I've lost people to disease, accident, and their own hand and I can't honestly say one manner was better or worse. Either way, I'm left with unanswered questions and people whose lives won't fit neatly into some sort of order with my own.

I'm struggling with the comment box, because I really don't want to say something trite, or sling a bunch of platitudes at you. Losing friends is just awful and gutting, and nothing I can say will make it less so. I really am sorry, it is an experience I wish no one ever had to have.

Forest City Fashionista said...

The comment that "it's not possible for non-depressed people to make sense of depressed people because they're not singing from the same hymn sheet" is the absolute truth. I spent some time volunteering on a suicide hotline, and have had my own experience with depression and suicidal thoughts, and there is no way that someone who hasn't "been there" can comprehend why someone would choose that way out. I am so sorry for the loss of your friend, even as you say, you had long lost touch. Life moves so quickly, especially in middle years, and it becomes busy with job, relationships, children, and the other trappings of adulthood. There will always be people that we think fondly of, but for one reason or another, our lives don't intersect anymore. I long ago lost touch with anyone from my hometown or university years, but I make a point to keep in contact with the people who are important in my life now. For me, the lesson here is to be sure to let the people who are important to you know that they are cared for, because you never know what tomorrow may bring. XO Shelley

Flora Cruft said...

Such sad news, no wonder you are feeling the shock of it, and reflecting on what might have been. The fact that you lost touch with your friend does not mean that you didn't touch her life: it sounds as if in those years of friendship you gave eachother great happiness, memories to be treasured.

Krista said...

Thanks again Curtise for a touching heart felt honest post. I'm sorry you are feeling so bad about this and can see why it has you thinking and asking questions. I have so many thoughts racing through my head right now. I think the first is about keeping a tight circle. There is no way you can have tons of people in your life and be close to all of them, you have to keep your circle of friends smaller to really build on those relationships. I guess the other thing this has me thinking about is we really never know why people choose to end their life but maybe this act will help those left behind lives their more.

You do look lovely in blue and the photo from the 80's at the wedding is ace honey!
Sending you the biggest hug!

mispapelicos said...

I am so sorry to hear about your friend, and how good of you to share your sorrow with us.
I cannot say very much, jut that I am here if you need me

at my dressingtable said...

I'm so sorry to hear about your sad news, and i am thinking about you ,and your friends at this sad time .
I just want to add the blue on you is a lovely colour , best wishes xxx

Helga said...

That's just devastating news, dareling. I've not been touched by suicide, thankfully, but the death of loved ones, or people I knew,is just dreadful.
Huge comforting hugs and love, my darling.XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

Emma Kate at Paint and Style said...

I'm sorry to hear that. Part of loss is guilt. You can't have one without the other so don't be too hard on yourself that you didn't keep in touch. Thinking of you at this sad time. xxxx

p.s. I had that mad hair too. What were we thinking?

Sue @ A Colourful Canvas said...

One of the most difficult losses to cope with, suicide. A dear friend of mine took his own life, and it stirred up all kinds of emotions. I can't begin to imagine the feelings his wife, children, and close friends had to sort through.

Fran said...

I am so sorry. I too have friends from school with whom I have pretty much lost the closeness we one had. Your post made me realize I should correct this. You are a great writer.

Unknown said...

Such very sad news, Curtise, and I'm thinking about you along with everyone here. I wish I had something helpful to say, but all I have to offer is my sympathy and empathy.
A note about staying in touch. I made a huge effort to get in touch with a old and one-time close friend. I finally reached her, and she chatted for a moment, then said "Listen, I didn't stay in touch because I didn't want to ... hope this doesn't hurt your feelings but I'm too busy to catch up right now." I don't note this to diminish your relationship with your old friend, or compare it, but but there's no guessing whether you could have helped your friend or not given the distance and time. It is to your credit that you wished you had. I just hope your regret and sorrow can be assuaged somehow. Let those who are around you love you and I hope you can soak that up until you feel better.
If it's helpful to know, you've made a potent long distance difference in my life, and I'm sure that's true for so many people who know you even a little. If you missed making a difference for your friend, you've done it for others. Just so you know.
(The blue does look grand on you ... and that's something you can know is so!)

Connie said...

Curtise. I'm so sorry to hear about your friend. Suicide has touched my life many times. We always feel so stunned and helpless. Nice to see Martin. I can see your kids in both of you. Life is so sad yet so beautiful, isn't it?

Natalia Lialina said...

Curtise, it is very, very sad and hard... I see you as a sensitive, thoughtful and very caring person, doing a beautiful thing now by bringing the old friends together. I too experienced drifting apart for not apparent reasons, though that's just what you said - we pick different roads in life. And it is so wonderful to share some part of our journey with such beautiful people like your old friend was (I just love the way you wrote about her!). But then, when we need to, we pick slightly different directions, or trails in life, and that is OK! We need to stay true to ourselves and remember our friendships in a good, kind way... because our friendships change us, and a part of them will always be a part of us... I think you are wonderful that you are bringing your old friends together. And you are beautiful on all these photos. I was glad to have a chance to see Martin. Nice to meet you, Martin! You are so sweet together. :)

YONKS said...

Just found you and this was a sad post to start on but you have given me the nudge I need to contact old friends, just to ask how they are doing. It's situations like this always leave me asking why? Life goes on and this is a reminder to us all how delicate life is and to just enjoy every day we are given. I strongly believe happiness is a choice but not everyone gets it.
Great to meet you. Following from Wales. Pop by for a chat :-)

Fiona said...

What a very sad post Curtise. Suicide is not something that has touched my life thankfully but can't imagine how one would get through it if it was a close friend or loved one that took their life. It seems that something positive has happened due to this tragedy though and I hope you can rekindle your friendships with your old mates.
Thinking of you. xx

Virginia at A Sewing Life said...

I am so sorry for your loss and for the confusing range of emotions that it has stirred up in you (and no doubt in everyone who was close to your friend, either recently or in the past). Looking for a ray of redemption (as one always seems to do), what an extraordinary bunch of thoughts and insights have converged here in response to your post. You really do have a talent for not only expressing your own experiences beautifully, but also causing others to share theirs. Whether it's your clothes, your kids, your experiences or your musings, I always find something thought-provoking and poignant here at your blog. Wishing you comfort.

Anonymous said...

Curtise, I'm truly sorry to hear of the loss of your friend. Along with the extreme sadness, guilt is, I think, a natural response to tragedies such as this,because we want to believe we have the power to help and change someone. Sadly, and especially with mental illness, we sometimes don't. You have honored your friend with your thoughts and by sharing a little of her here. I hope you find comfort and healing in some happy memories and maybe even sharing those memories with those old friends you mentioned.

I love your 1989 style (I had the hair too). Xoxo

Gems - Fashion Well Done said...

How tragic, it is always hard to make sense of such things. My grandfather died a few days ago and it was so sudden, I'm finding it difficult to get my head around. So I know how you must be feeling.

It's good that the memories you have are making you smile through this difficult time.


Fashion, Well Done

Unknown said...

So sorry Curtise for the sad news - Those events are difficult to deal with - Life can be so sad sometimes-

Big hug to you


Unknown said...

This post really moved me to tear's as you know its rather close to home in my own life. My youngest was admited to hospital last week for his own safety as he to wanted to end his life he is only 13. Its a hard thing for anybody to experience and you are very right its hard for those people that are close to the that person in more ways than one. Big hugs to you, dee xx

Mrs Bertimus said...

So sorry to hear your news, it was very brave of you to share your thoughts. I think that blogging can offer real support and comfort.
All my love to you x

Trees said...

I'm so sorry to hear about your friend, at times like this you do need to stop and pause and reflect. I have been thinking of this a bit myself lately - where ever I am in the world, I am a long way from at least some of my friends. I do need to make more of an effort to keep in touch with those who aren't physically near me (even though they are in my thoughts).

Becky said...

So sad. Death is hard enough, but you're right about suicide making it extra hard, maybe because it FEELS so unnecessary and preventable to those left behind grieving.