A difficult thing to move past…
On July 2nd, 2012, I saw a post on Facebook from one of my dearest friends. She was on a beach, and while it isn’t verbatim, I can almost remember vividly what it said. It read something like this: “I will love you all for the rest of my life, which ends tonight.” She went on to ask for forgiveness for the action she was about to take, stating she couldn’t life with the hate and pain in the world any longer. She then asked for someone to take care of her cat Irusan Kiss Kiss, because she felt her husband wouldn’t.
It hit me hard and fast. I reached out immediately to her family, her husband, and then my father who is a police officer on the Oregon coast, because the post included a photo of her on the beach. I had the local authorities ping her cell phone (she had posted from her mobile), and they ended up searching the area in Canyon Beach where her cell was last used.
I’ll never forget the call from the officer that night telling me he had to speak with her family. I knew full well what he couldn’t tell me, and what I didn’t want to hear. I asked him if I could please be the voice on the phone to her family. I felt that someone that loved her like a sister should be the one to share with the family. The officer allowed me to call them and have them call him. While he couldn’t tell me what I already knew from his voice, and I couldn’t tell her family what they knew from mine, that initial shock I hope was a little eased by the love I could put through the phone and the anguish I shared with her family.
It took me a few minutes to gather myself to make that call. I will never forget losing all strength in my knees and collapsing on my deck losing completely control and sobbing. I loved her, I still love her, and what in this life was so hard for her to leave us, to not come to one of us for help? What could I have done to make her stay? I gathered myself and called her family, and without telling them what I “didn’t know” attempted to reach them in anyway I could and not let some disconnected person who didn’t love her share the heart wrenching news.
The rest they say, was like a surreal dream. I don’t remember sleeping that night. I know that I felt as if there was so much pain in my heart, and I cried in outbursts for well over a year, randomly because the slightest thing would remind me of her. The emotions still run over me from time to time and I think so hard about what I should take away from all of this.
There are so many things that were hidden gifts in all of this. Please bear with me while I explain. Emily was one of the most vibrant and free spirits I had ever known. I knew that no matter how long we were apart, she loved me completely and I loved her, and nothing could ever take that from us. She was the kind of person who could absolutely put a smile on your face and laughter in your gut when you were feeling so blue. She had a FANTASTIC potty mouth and could make a sailor blush and I just loved her that way.
Em was someone, despite being younger than me, that I looked up to, because she was such a strong personality. She could command any room with her bright face and loud cheery voice. People truly loved her. So much more than I think she ever realized. I would have done anything to be her, she was so unafraid of others, so forward thinking, and so free. She never put up with anyone’s shit, well not until the end I guess.
Now Emily died on the 2nd, but I mourn her anniversary on the 3rd. I do so because it was fairly late on 2nd when the news came and honestly the 3rd was the day I truly mourned and it sank in really what had happened. Her passing happened at a point in my life where so much other turmoil was at a boil. You see, my marriage was a mess, my step-daughter who lived with me was going through some exceptionally emotional times herself. Things just seemed so insanely bleak. I understood personally that dark place you go into when your life’s circumstances are bad, but to act on it was so much more than I could imagine personally. The emotional situation with my step-daughter was that of a similar situation. She too had looked for a way out. It seemed as if I were surrounded with such hardship that others were choosing an escape.
In the weekend following her death, I got to meet her family for the first time. I was so thankful, they had invited me to the coast to spread her ashes and to remember her. As hard as it was, it was one of the most beautiful days. I met them at their hotel and there they were, mom and dad, sister and brother. Rosey looked so much like Em’s it took my breath away. I took my now ex husband, my daughter and step daughter with me, and we went to Ecola State Park where my step daughter really connected with her family and the idea of saying goodbye. As much as it was hard to lose Emily, I couldn’t help but see the gift in her showing my child how very hard life lost was on others left behind. Here was an 11 year old girl, surrounded by sorrow and anguish, looking into her little spiritual center and pulling out this giant personality, seeing how much we all hurt and struggled. Emily’s parting taught her such a huge lesson that day.
I learned personally that day and in the days to come that cruel words can be that factor that shoves someone from thinking to acting on their desires to escape. I learned to sense the pain in others and recently acted on a complete stranger who was dealing with that same horrible loneliness that had him considering his escape route. I also learned how glorious this life is, if you just look.
I am grateful for the lesson she taught my daughter. I am thankful for the love and spirit she shared with me in my life. I’m thankful for how she loved my children. I am so grateful to have shared space, breath, laughter, love, meals, adventures, and time, on the same planet, in her presence. She was one of the greatest beings I have ever had the pleasure of calling one of the true loves in my life. I think about her still, every day, and I will NEVER forget.
I will never forget to say hello to someone I come across. I will never forget to smile at strangers I pass on the street. I will never forget to be thankful and grateful for the love I have every day in my life, and I will never let go of the love I have in my heart for one of the most special, beautiful people I have had the pleasure to know in this life.
I love you Emily, with all my heart. I miss you every single day. I hope you feel me in your heart, wherever you may be. My spirit is forever tied to yours, and you will forever be in my soul. On this day, I am grateful that you were in my life. Thank you for loving me, and thank you for letting me in.
In loving memory of Emily Schwartz, July 2nd, 2012