|The Bridge at Sunset|
It was Winter in Maine when Laura (my sister, I'm just going to start referring to her as Laura from here on out, okay?) and I were chatting on Facebook. She was in Michigan and I was supposed to be studying for Final Exams (Organic Chemistry, to be exact), but decided to slack off a bit....as usual.
"Whoa," she typed. "Sarah Hunter (name change for respect) committed suicide."
I stared at her words, and stared at the name. Sarah was a girl I'd attended youth group with. She'd driven me a couple of times when no one else could. We were friends. And she killed herself.
"What happened?" I typed back as tears stung my eyes.
"I'm not sure, I'm looking into it."
At long last, the dam burst, and I started crying, sobbing. I cried for Sarah, who had always been soft spoken and slow to smile. I cried for me, who only a few months before had been committed to a psych ward of a hospital for "attempted suicide". She was so pretty, and so young. We would sit in her car and chat before and after youth group. And she was dead.
|The Mackinac Bridge|
Just before Christmas, and either just before or after her birthday, Sarah had driven her car to the bridge, walked, and then jumped into the icy water below. To my knowledge her body wasn't found.
"Did you know her?" Laura typed, as I sat on my beaten in couch crying.
"Yes, we went to youth group together."
"I'm sorry. I didn't know you knew her."
We chatted for awhile longer while I sat there crying. Eventually I made my way outside and started chain smoking. This could have been me. This could have been me. My mind was reeling. Though I'd been committed for attempted suicide, I maintained that I wasn't trying, I'd just cut myself too deep. But just because I wasn't trying that day didn't mean I hadn't tried before. It also didn't mean that I wasn't considering it on a daily basis.
Months later I was on the Outer Banks of North Carolina when PostSecret shared a voicemail. It was the last phone call a young girl made to her boyfriend before she killed herself. On it, she stated, "I'm so sorry, please know this wasn't your fault. There was nothing you could have done." Her voice cracked as she spoke, and I listened to the voicemail on repeat, fighting my own urge to cry.
The voice mail removed any doubt in my mind that before Sarah jumped she was looking at the black water, sobbing. I know this because as I walked to the beach my sophomore year of college to drown myself, I was sobbing. She might have screamed on the way down, or maybe she was quiet. She could have jumped feet first, or head first.
But the church we'd gone to told me that suicides go to Hell, and I was supposed to believe that my friend was now burning for eternity for committing this grievous act. Not only had she had a rough life and lost her battle to depression, now she was going to suffer. Forever. Even though she probably cried on her way out of this world.
My faith at that moment became something like a pencil and snapped in half.
I've known God my entire life. I've loved him, prayed to Him almost every night. And yet I was supposed to believe that this Being that I've loved would torture someone who'd already been tortured?
No. No way.
And so like my belief that Harry Potter is demonic, I stopped believing that suicides go to Hell, simply because I need to believe in something that would take compassion on my friends. I need to believe that He would understand why we made these decisions, and that He truly is as epic as the Bible tells me He is.
I think this song pretty much sums up this entire post:
"What about me and all my friends, are we all sinners if we sin? Does it even matter in the end, if we're unhappy?"