Monday, September 1, 2014

On Grief and Books

This post is mostly to explain a week long absence (at least) on this blog and other social media for me. Right now, when I see this blog, all I can think of are questions:

Was there a turning point, or was this another planned attempt because everything was the same? Was it peaceful? Was it what he expected? Why was he looking at my blog beforehand? Did he want me to know?

On August 24th, one of my best friends committed suicide. I found out last Friday, so knowing this--thinking about this--is very raw for me. He had been suffering from depression for years, confessed to having considered suicide on multiple occasions, but he had also been seeing a therapist, had tried drugs (though they apparently made him "bat-shit crazy"), and had told me about his struggles. Depression is depression and sometimes support/drugs/therapy isn't enough. He needed to find his own peace.

I know all of that. I know that this was the relief from his pain; that he's at peace now. None of that is a secret, but goddamn if it doesn't still hurt. Our last really long conversation (we had a small one in June) was in April on the Queen's Thief series by Megan Whalen Turner. I sent him the books as a late birthday present (though he hated his birthday, so it was more like me dubbing them as a "congratulations" gift for completing the LSAT!). In turn he told me what he thought; they weren't as high in his esteem as Brandon Sanderson's books, but he liked them well enough. We could talk about any book, even if he didn't read as much as I did, including young adult books, which my current colleagues disdain -- he even knew of Sarah J. Maas from her FictionPress days (and Queen of Glass vs. Throne of Glass now). What had often brought us together time and time again was our love of both books and writing. And now I'm staring at pages feeling like I just can't do it, I can't. Definitely not sad books, that's for sure. I was considering watching If I Stay, but I think that's off the table now too.

You may also wonder besides reviews/reading being altered, what about this blog? What did you mean by all those questions? Well, the way I found out about his death suggests that he didn't want me to know. My blog was also in his internet history. He was one of the few people from my personal life who knew about this blog, and he might have been looking at my blog the day he killed himself. The selfish part of me wants to say, why didn't you reach out? You told me before about other attempts; why did you go through with this one? The other part of me of course would never ask him to continue living a half-lived life that he could not enjoy... but the whole of me can't stand looking at this blog right now and thinking about the what-might-have-beens and how much I want to hug him for even reading this blog because he was one of the best friends I could ever have, so supportive and...

Over a month ago I scheduled a trip to Chicago to see some other friends this past weekend. I considered canceling, but I didn't want to be alone with my grief and the friends who I saw helped a lot. The friend I'd stayed with had heard of Stephanie Perkins books through both me and our mutual friend, so I brought Isla and the Happily Ever After along with me. We have a long-standing tradition of reading books out loud to each other and we did that again here. It reminded me of good things. Love and friendship and color. My friend had once said that I made the world less grey for him; Isla is all caps and saturation in its pages.

Books were one of our connecting factors, and books will also help me face the grief. He got me the Mistborn trilogy by Brandon Sanderson as a graduation gift last year. I anticipate crying at some point while reading the books, or maybe not being able to finish them in one go, having to force myself to read them, or feeling empty and sad afterwards because I will never get to discuss them with him, find out why exactly he loved them so much. Why he got them for me for graduation. And yet they will be precious for all of those reasons; I will see him in those books. I will see him again in various iterations, a character who loves red velvet cake but chooses pie for life; who sends care packages out of generosity than true need; who hates social functions with a vengeance and who critiques his friend's writing with all the support that anyone could ever want. Reading, writing, books. God I miss him.

But right now I'm not entirely ready for the books and reading and this blog. I might return after a week with an extended bookish rounds just because I'll go stir-crazy without doing something, but some changes might be coming. I don't know.

Thanks for reading, friends. Thanks for your love and support.

12 comments:

  1. I'm having a hard time thinking about what I can say. I am so sorry about this and I wish I could hug you in real life. I've never been through this, so I have no idea how you are feeling, but I can only image how hard it is to lose someone you are close to. I have tears in my eyes for you, dear Christina, and I wish you all the strength right now. You can always talk to me *hug*

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  2. What a terribly sad thing to have happen to you. To have someone in your life that you talk about books with and then to lose them... I can't even begin to understand but I do feel terrible for you. I wish internet hugs were enough but I know they're not. I do hope you know I'll keep you in my thoughts and wish for some future mental peace for you. I'm here for you if you need anything.

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  3. Hi Christina :( I'm so sorry to hear about your friend. I wish he was here so you wouldn't feel sad and be missing him, but I also understand when you say that he is at peace now. It sounds like he was a great friend and fellow book lover, and I'm sorry we lost him. I'm glad that you were able to go to Chicago <3 and I hope you keep on healing. I hope it gets better soon *hugs hugs hugs* *reads a bit of Isla out loud* I'm going to re-read Isla with you and your friend in mind. Thoughts and prayers are with you, him, and the rest of his friends and family. <3

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  4. I'm so sorry to hear about your friend, I can't imagine how you must be feeling. I'll be thinking about you and your friend…it's so sad. It sounds like he was an incredible friend and I'm sure he felt the same way about you. ~Pam

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  5. I wish I could reach out to you with a proper hug right now, Christina :'( This living a half-life thing, I don't know if I'd ever be able to see that way... Whenever I learn of someone I know contemplating suicide, I'm petrified. I can only imagine what must be going through your mind right now and the pain you're facing. I'm truly sorry for your loss and I pray that you'll continue to find comfort in your friends and books as well.

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  6. I don't even know what to say to you, because there are not any words that can patch this up. I'm sorry to see that this has touched you in ways that have changed your life forever, and it changed a hobby that you love.
    I'm sorry that you have to carry on. It is kind that you are not calling him self centered or hateful for doing it. Depression is a bitch, and it is a constant battle. I'm sorry he lost his, and I hope he is a peace right now.


    *FIERCE INTERNET HUG*

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  7. Nothing I can say will make things better, so just know that my thoughts are with you.

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  8. Oh, god. I am so very deeply sorry, my friend! Depression is ugly and awful and one of the worst enemies a human being can try to face. Yeah, he probably is in a better place now. I deeply hope so. But it doesn't make you hurt any less. It's ok to hurt and miss him. I miss and hurt for you *hugs you tightly* Your friend was right! You do make people's worlds less grey. I am sorry this world has lost a lot of its shine for you, but you will get it back one day. I'm sure he'd love to see you get it back. Great friends always help you through the toughest times and I'm glad you have friends (irl) to lean on during this difficult time and, without a doubt, I can say that we all support you through this as well. Whenever you feel down, you know where to find me and I'll do my best to try and take some of the pain away. I love you to the moon and back! Whatever you need, I'm here. Always.

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  9. Oh, Christina...I am sooo unbelievably sorry you're going through this. I can't even imagine what it must be like for you. And I'm sorry that it's taken a toll on how you view your hobby, but I'm glad that you have others in your life who can help you cope with this loss. I'm glad that you helped him in your way, that you made the world a little better for him while he was here. I'm sorry that he made the decision to leave you so soon, but I hope that he's at peace now, for your sake and his. Please let me know if you need anything...even if it's someone to read those Brandon Sanderson books with so you can discuss them. I've never read them either and maybe we can figure out together why they were so special to your friend.

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  10. When I read this post, all I could think is how much I want to hug you. I have close friends who struggle with the same things, and I hope and wish and pray all the time that they continue to talk to me. I know that I would be going through the same emotions you are if anything ever happened. My heart goes out to you right now. I don't get much time to comment on blogs like I used to, so we don't necessarily know each other, but, if you ever need someone to just talk to, please feel free to get in touch with me.

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  11. I truly am sorry about your loss and all that you must be experiencing. I hope you find something to help you deal with all this grief--even if that something can't be books right now. To say that this post hit me hard and at a personal level would be an understatement, so just know that you really do have the Internet's support, and that you'll be in my thoughts as well as plenty of other's, I'm sure.

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