Numbly trying to deal with this fact: a former student of mine took her life early this week.
She was a radiant, generous, lovely person.
In my fitful and sporadic sleep last night, I dreamed that her father was insisting: “It’s a mosquito bite — just a mosquito bite.”
I keep weaving in and out of thinking “this is fiction” and “this is real.”
There is nothing like a suicide to highlight: 1) interconnectedness, 2) a lack of interconnectedness. I only know she has left a trail of weeping behind her.
My colleague and I, who co-taught her in a course last summer, asking each other, “What is a teacher?” and “Where are our boundaries?” and “What are our responsibilities?” I don’t feel guilty, though, or negligent — I don’t know what I could have done for her — just sad, exhausted as if kicked in the stomach, and raw.
How could it have got so bad for her that she felt her only choice was to leave life? How could she have felt so alone? She didn’t leave a message, so I suppose we will never know what sent her to that impasse.
I suppose, although I wouldn’t want to make a law out of this supposition, that suicide is a kind of inalienable right we all have, no matter how hurtful it might be to those surrounding us. I can’t begrudge anyone their decision to leave because I haven’t really seen it proven that life is sacrosanct. I mean, if it were, why would it end? And if it were, why would it be so difficult — the inanities and injustices and aches and pains of the quotidian — the traps humans set for other humans — the crushing metal of the streets — the callousness of social organization — indeed, why stick around for all that? And yet, I’m annoyed with her for not being more tenacious and more open with whatever it was that was tormenting her — so many people appreciated her and were there to help support her.
But now, it’s done — she’s done, except for the recurring images in all of our minds of her broad smile, her square face with its high cheekbones, her always bright and receptive expression — except for the memories of exchanges with her we dredge up out of our murky memories — except for our creepy imaginations of the scene of her death — except for the ghostly artifacts she has left us (some blue books with her beautiful essays and portfolios that show how articulate she was in a foreign language) — except for…
She said in her reflection essay in one of her portfolios that she had come to study in the USA to “break the frame” — so brilliant, I thought at the time, but now it resounds ruefully.
The world has a little hole in it now, and (the) sun* has fallen through it.
*(Her name, you see, was Sun.)