Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee

Jami Woodrow

One of the best friends I've ever had committed suicide last week.

When my friend Jami was young, she was diagnosed with dyslexia. Because of this, her parents coddled her, and put all of their confidence in her sister, who went on to be successful, driven, and selfish. My friend was more or less raised to marry a wealthy man and be an awesome wife and mother, just like her mom.

But then the parents, who probably would have seen this through, were killed by a drunk driver.

My friend, at 26, was left entirely ill-equipped to deal with life. She was emotionally and financially dependent on them. When they died, she was living in the same city as her sister and me, she worked a random job at a clothing store, she had no university degree, and no significant other in the picture. She was without an anchor of any form. Being beautiful, kind, fun, funny, opinionated, smart and cool wasn't enough.

She stared floating, and she never really stopped. The balance of joy and pain in her life tipped, and things started to get harder for her.

She moved back to our hometown, she started raising German Shepherds, she became uber-fit, she got a few tattoos, she became addicted to prescription medication, she recovered, she got married and divorced, then got married again. She realised she was smarter than she'd been raised to believe, and started reading and writing. Along the way she was diagnosed bi-polar, and for the most part, took medication. The people who should have been consistent in her life, her aunt and uncle and her sister, became people to battle with over her grandmother's estate, and eventually she became more or less estranged from them.

In the last 10 years, I was always available to her when she called, but I would never start the communication. When we were in regular touch, she would want to talk on the phone for hours every day. And so it went until, during a two-year period of silence, I got married and had a baby. Upon hearing this, she got pissed.

"How the fuck could you do this and not tell me? Fuck you!"

She hung up on me, and that was the last time I spoke with her, three years ago.

We have to take care of ourselves and our families first. It is the most important thing we can do. But does it have to be at the expense of someone else?

I don't believe I could have stopped herself from ending her life, but maybe I could have made her life a little more joyful before she did.