My long-time best friend back in NJ texted me the other day…
“Do you remember <girls name> from high school?”  (Lets call her D)
“Sure!  I remember D. she was nice, we were in HR together”

I thought the next time we’d speak, he and I would go over how he’d ran into her somewhere and they’d chatted and she’d remembered me fondly (hopefully) and that it would be a good story.  I was shocked when a few minutes later when I received a reply:

“I just found out that she hung herself last year!”



And so over the last week or so, my mind has returned to D. We were in homeroom together and because our last names were close, we always sat near each other.   We were in a couple of classes together, too. We weren’t super close, though I’m sure she signed my yearbook “Friends Forever” or something equally poignant for 17 year olds.

To me, she was almost the prototypical “Jersey Girl” from those days.  Big hair, big earrings, lotsa spunk and sass.  School was never her “thing”, but I always suspected she was smarter than she let on.  Feisty – she would swing between outrage and excitement, but more often than not she was smiling.

Of course, we were never in contact much after high school.  Probably ran into her once or twice in church while home from college.  Some internet digging found that she’d married her high school (and grade school, I believe) sweetheart, had a child, worked in real estate.  I wonder about the woman that she became.

In 2006, she suffered from a brain aneurysm, and a year later took her own life.  How had that changed her?  Had she become someone else?

I really don’t know why this story has captured my attention so.  We hadn’t interacted in 25 years, and we really weren’t great friends.  Maybe because of that, she’s frozen in time – always a fun teenage girl, unburdened by anything more than high school drama – and the harsh reality of her fate reminds me that that reality is long gone.  I don’t know.

I have no idea where my high-school yearbook is – probably discarded during one of at least a dozen moves since I graduated.  For once, I wish I still had it so that I could remind myself of the D. that I knew one more time.

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18 thoughts on “D.

  1. Oh, this is so heavy…such sad news even when you didn't know the person at all.
    I remember that feeling of just graduating and thinking forward to 20, 30 years…at that age there is such promise & hope. Then we leave that cohort of people and go forth in the real world and life happens. Of course, I don't know for certain, but I would think suffering a brain aneurysm could really change someone…just from seeing how a brain tumor changed my mom. Depending on where it hit, it could damage the part of the brain that holds personality.
    I know what you mean about trying to wrap your brain around your memory/perception of someone vs. reality. I too have lost track of my yearbook and what I wouldn't give to have it back and read all the autographs!

  2. I think whenever we hear about someone our age dying – especially if we haven't seen them in 10-20 years (or more), it hits us kind of hard – perhaps it's the reality of our own mortality. At least that is how it is for me.That is really sad, though, that she took her life.

  3. Goodness… what terrible news to receive. Suicide especially seems such an odd thing to hear about happening to someone you know or knew; call me naive, but I hear about those things and it never really registers to me that people actually do take their own lives. Very sad news indeed. =(

  4. Tam — I think your right in both ways. In a way, I didn't know her. I think that's what's at the core of what's bugging me about it. I did know her for a while and what I'm left with is an idealized version of the girl i knew. Who she was as a wife, mother and professional? I didn't know that person at all.

  5. N — I think that's very true. It's one of those scary instances where you realize that life can change in an instant — whether disease, stroke, accident, etc to ourselves or a loved one. The chances of these things happening are remote at any given time — yet they do. Its a lesson of just how tenuous life can be sometimes and we don't even know it.

  6. I hope you are OK with this bad news since you were not close. I lost a good friend who passed at 28 from heart failure. The last I saw of my high school mates was at the 10-year reunion. I moved away from LA and then moved back for 5 years, which coincided with the 35-year reunion. The 35 was cancelled from lack of interest.

  7. So sad! Although nothing can be assumed about D's motivation, I know that accident victims who go into a coma or just have a severe head injury sometimes have total personality changes. It's so strange to not know the fate of people we used to see every day….

  8. wow… that's some heavy stuff… even if it's not someone close to you, there's something seriously unnerving about someone taking their own life…xoxox

  9. Thanks Zak — i'm fine — i've just been surprised at the jumble of thoughts this information triggered. Its funny though, I've never really considered going back to one of my HS reunions. For most of the time, I've lived far away from where I grew up. (I think i'm in the "lack of interest" camp).

  10. Wow. That's sobering. I have experienced that same type of…surreality, I suppose it is, when I hear about the goings-on (some tragic, some not-so-tragic) of people I used to know a lifetime ago. And even though we haven't been in touch for years, it still makes me stop short and think.

  11. I have that same heavy feeling Tamzen talked about. Maybe because I know from experience what it's like to very seriously contemplate suicide when one is severely depressed. I feel for her child and for everyone who loved her and has now lost her forever. There was a girl I used to know growing up, I must have been about 10 and she about 14 when I saw her last. We'd been friends since I was a toddler. I never heard from her again. Last year I heard from a mutual acquaintance that a broken heart had led her to hang herself. Reading your post brought back the shock and horror of that moment — and a realisation of how precious life really is. Didn't mean to be overtly morbid :( Sorry.

  12. I just saw this, and I am sorry. My first job was as a Neurosurgery ICU nurse, so yes, the aneurysm may have really affected her in a variety of ways, including depression, hopelessness etc. It's a wierd feeling too, to mourn someone who you "used to know" rather than someone you know on a say, daily basis. But, it doesn't make it any easier.

  13. Steve, I didn't see this until now. I'm sorry. I can understand a bit of how you feel — heavy is a good word for it (thanks Tam!).
    I went through a similar thing about 10 years or so ago, when I found out a person I had really looked up to, a musician and teacher who I felt had really impacted my life for the better, had taken his own life some few years after we had lost touch.
    It really bothered me and still does, actually. You feel, was that seed there all along and I never saw it? Did I ever really know him in the first place? Did he never know how valued he was? Did I never tell him? Did anyone tell him?
    It is a strange kind of mourning, but a real one. Like Katiebell said.

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