Yesterday was the second anniversary of my friend Emily’s death. I met her in AA when I was giving that a go. We were about the same age, had the same name, and bonded very quickly. She was a recovering heroin addict. She was in drug court at the time after getting caught for several impressive drug charges. She’d had her license revoked, so I would drive her to meetings when I could. We’d sit in the parking lot chatting while we waited for the boring opening part of the meeting to finish. She ended up going back to jail twice during the time I knew her. I would call her when I was driving just to pass the time. One of the very last things she said to me was “The next time I use, I’ll die”. A week later around 11 in the morning, I got the call from her sister. She was 24.
She was the first person really close to me who died. I knew, deep down, it wasn’t an if but a when. She’d been shooting up since she was 14 to treat bipolar disorder. By the time they diagnosed her, she was already addicted. My bosses sent me home early that day as I was a sobbing mess and could barely explain what was happening. As I was driving home, I saw a rainbow right over the (approximate) area of her house. There was no reason for there to be a rainbow in the middle of the day on a completely clear day. I’m not one to believe much in God or any kind of afterlife, but I like to believe that was her way of telling me she was okay.
I could never prove it, but I know she chose to do it. She knew what the consequences would be if she did it again. Just based on what she told me, her kidneys were failing. They had to take blood from the veins in her feet because every other vein was too damaged to use. I also learned more about vein placement than you would outside a medical school. Her heart was probably equally badly off and she smoked regularly. I guess she figured going out on her own terms was better than dying a slower, much more painful death when her body failed. I still have the letters she wrote me from jail. I was one of the few people who wrote to her. I’ll read them periodically and be reminded of how far I’ve come. I have something she’ll never have. Tomorrow.
Rest well, my friend. We miss you.