Those are the lyrics to “This Year” by the Mountain Goats, the video for which was the last thing she posted on Facebook, the night before she killed herself.
That was 6 months ago. Her 24th birthday was today. I only found out last night.
I knew her. Kind of. I never knew her enough. For some reason, I kept a distance. I don’t know why—I found her attractive? She was a friend’s ex? She smoked? I was in a committed relationship with Erin, who was extremely insecure? I was intimidated by her work, and thought she’d look down on me like the people in high school did?
I occasionally tried to make small talk with her. We worked on a few projects for classes. And by that, I mean she did the work because I would only have gotten in the way (or at least, that’s how I saw it).
I wish I had been able to tell her how much her work inspired me. I would look at her presentations of her projects and be taken aback. “How could she do this? How could she find the time? How could I do something of that caliber? How is she so much better at everything?” I never tried to ask. It was exhilarating seeing the things she made. They were all so fantastic. They made all of us, myself included, look like children scribbling with crayons onto construction paper in hopes of reaching the fridge, while she painted masterpieces and designed buildings. We were all amateurs compared to her.
She deserved better. How can I still stand while my better lays so cold in the ground, undeserving of her fate?
I wish I had known her. I wish she had talked to me, or that I had talked to her. I feel undeserving of my mourning. She had a boyfriend she lived with, a family who loved her, pets who relied on her, friends who she could have reached out to—I sit here, crying and thinking about her death, a stranger for all intents and purposes. They all lost a friend, a sister, a daughter, and I simply lost the chance to make a friend.
I know I wouldn’t have made a difference. She had her support group, and she chose not to reach out to them. What would be different if I were one of them? If she wouldn’t reach out to her lover and roommate for help, what use would I have been? Even if we were close, she wouldn’t have reached out. She made her decision and stuck with it. It was her private choice.
Maybe it’s just the unknown that’s getting to me. The lost possibilities that she could have opened for me had we been in the same circles. That there is one less person in my life that I can get to know.
I just feel like, when I was suicidal, I was able to get help. I survived. She was better than me in every way, and she didn’t. I feel undeserving in comparison. I wish I could shake her and tell her that she deserves life more than I do, and if I can fight, she can do it even better. She could do anything better.
And I look back at my own life—who would I have affected in this way, were the tables turned? Who have I touched in my life that would be devastated as I am by my disappearance, whom I haven’t given a second thought? Who would be writing at 3:30 in the morning, trying to get their thoughts out? I am disgusted with myself that I ever even entertained the idea of putting those people, let alone the people I love, through such a pain.
Fuck. I can’t believe she’s gone.
RIP, Ali F. I hope wherever you are, you are doing it just as amazingly as you did everything else.