Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Time in a Bottle

"If I could save time in a bottle
The first thing that I'd like to do
Is to save every day
'Til eternity passes away
Just to spend them with you"

-Jim Croce

I don't remember anymore where I was when I heard that Amy was dead. I've lived more life now without her than I lived with her. There was a time I thought of her every day. Then it was every week, then month. Now I think about her a couple of times a year. In June, I remember her birthday. I've conveniently forgotten her death day.

Amy was goth, before goth was a word. She was really into The Cure, Violent Femmes, Edie Brickell, and other alternative music. I remember her favorite shirt had Robert Smith on it. She was my rebel friend. If I wanted to not only skip church, but skip church and do bad stuff, she was the person I'd do it with. Her mom died when she was young, so her older brother and sister were mostly in charge of her. But they didn't really raise her, they just allowed her to follow in their footsteps.

She had long, straight, beautiful brown hair. She was short and little, and she had a great smile. I was never sure why she liked me, because we were very different. I think we just liked each other. You know, a connection. She had an entirely separate group of friends, but we lived in the same neighborhood so we'd hang out fairly often. In the summer at Girl's Camp we'd always sneak away and do things that were against the rules. In fact, she was on the infamous midnight hike where we toilet-papered the Lone Tree along the rim of the Mia Shalom valley. Oh, good times!

We all knew she was depressed. Her father wasn't around after her mom died. Her mom had been the entire workings of their household, a really great lady, and he didn't know how to cope with anything after she was gone. Amy's siblings were older and had already started on their downward paths. She had no one really to bolster her up, to keep her afloat. And then they moved.

She still went to the same junior high school as I did, but because she lived far away we never hung out. We'd say "hey" in the halls, and sometimes we'd stop to talk. But we drifted apart. Oh, I just remembered where I was when I heard what happened. I was at my friend Karen's house. Her older sister had been on the phone when we walked into the room, and she looked at us with a sickly pale face.

"Amy Yergensen just committed suicide", she told us. Of course Karen and I didn't believe her.

"No way, Jodie, that's not even funny," was Karen's reply.

If only we'd been right.

I was angry and sad and confused all at the same time. I yelled at her; I yelled at the universe. Only 13, I challenged God and his reasons. I went to her viewing and saw her in atypical white clothing, looking fake and frightening. I had my first emotional meltdown later that night. My first ever. Sobbing uncontrollably, unable to form words, scared to death of death.

Amy's death and funeral shook me for many years, in many, many ways. I was scared of the dark; I would have conversations with the dead Amy; she haunted my dreams; I wouldn't let her go.

Slowly, over the years, I did let her go. Now she's a childhood memory, and one that I love thinking about. I remember her forcing me to listen to "What I am" by Edie Brickell over and over again. I remember peeling her back after she got way too sunburned in a tanning bed. I am so happy she was in my life, if only for a few short years.


Joseph's Left One said...

Wow, that's a powerful post. A friend of mine killed herself when I was in high school. You just brought back a flood of feelings and memories/

Just one of many said...

I knew three people that committed suicide. I remember thinking, lucky them. Now I just see life as a big rollercoaster, I hang on tight for the slow ascensions and raise my hands to the heavens for the steep drop offs.
Right now I am hanging on tight, but looking forward to the exhilerated screams that come with the unexpected!

Anonymous said...

I appreciate someone else writing about missing her as well. It helps me work through my own angle on it.

Although I don't think her siblings did anything to encourage this. They were exploring their lives as best they could, and she told me she loved them and her father very much. I believe he was working hard to support his 3 children on his own when this happened.

Amy was an incredible person, and had tried to relate to me many things about her fears and insecurities. She will always be remembered kindly.

La said...

I'm sorry if I implied anything about her siblings and father in a negative way. They were all shaken up and were trying to find their way. I never meant to pass judgement or imply her death was encouraged!

Anonymous: if you read this, feel free to email me at discover dot la at gmail dot com.