What Do You Do with That?

Almost ten years ago, I broke up with my best friend of many years, Nella.  She chose a life path that I could not condone and could not follow her down.  I also couldn't watch her flame out.  I don't put conditions on love, but I do put conditions on friendship.  I still love her, but I can't be friends with her.

When I last communicated with her it was via email, because she wouldn't take or return my calls at the time, and I was at my limit.  I would have preferred to have a conversation with her - ideally face to face - but as that was impossible I tried for the phone.  I wanted to have a conversation.  I tried.  I called and left messages until I couldn't take any more.  I sent an email expressing my concern over her choices, and over what I perceived to be a huge personality shift in her.  I was honest, but not mean.

That was the last communication I had with her.  Until last Monday.  While I was trying to finish the first half of my summer classes, I got an email from her.  I can't explain the foreboding I felt upon seeing her name in my inbox.

Wilbur is still in touch with Nella, albeit sporadically (when something is really wrong).  I don't generally inquire about her, because I don't really want to know most of the time, but I know that if something big was going on, Wilbur would fill me in.

I chose not to open Nella's email while I was dealing with finals.  So I opened it yesterday.  The subject line was:  still there?  It was three lines.  "I guess we really aren't friends anymore.  Wilbur told me you're getting divorced and I didn't even know you were married again.  I was going to call you because I'm thinking of killing myself, but I don't have your phone number anymore."

What?  Seriously.  How do I respond to that?  It's childish and desperate and sad and maddening.  As I don't have her phone number anymore, either, I called Wilbur to run the whole thing by him and get Nella's number.

Wilbur seemed shocked by the whole thing and, sadly, couldn't say whether or not she was serious about the killing herself part.  Wilbur also said, though, that he had given Nella my number.  Armed with that comforting bit of information, I called her last night.  When I got no answer I left a message saying that if she wanted to talk she could call me.  She sent me a text about 5 minutes later.  "If you really cared, you would have tried to call me before now."

I know this sounds utterly compassionless, but I wanted to punch her in the face.  Repeatedly.  This isn't a game.  We aren't 16.  You can't dangle prospective suicide as some kind of dramatic joke or sick ultimatum.  When I ended our relationship almost a decade ago, I hoped that we might end up friends again someday.  Now I know that that's not possible.  Now I know that the person I knew and loved is gone.

It's horrible to know that.  It's a huge loss - not just to me.  Nella was fun and funny and creative and had a lot to give the world.  Now there's just this fucked up simulacrum of her left.   What do you do with that?  I guess I do nothing.  I say goodbye again, this time with the knowledge that it's for good.

And then I go on with my life.


Elisa said...

Damn. That is fucked up.

Dorothy said...

I'm still angry about it. Like spitting mad. On a follow-up note, though, I did tell her family. I hope she gets help, because no matter what, I know she needs it.