I feel like this is possibly a topic I shouldn’t write about, but I need to get this out and this is the best way to somewhat organize my thoughts.
It has been almost a month since my friend, Jessica, died by suicide. I was in Oslo when I got the news and stayed up most of the night unable to wrap my head around it. Even after attending her funeral and going to her gravesite today it’s still hard to believe.
I received a text from her the night before that just said “I’m sorry.” I replied with “For what?” and got no reply, though it wasn’t uncommon with Jessica to not receive a reply until the next day. I honestly thought she had meant to send it to someone else. Never did it cross my mind that it was her way of saying goodbye.
Jessica was such a caring person but she never seemed to see her own self worth. She had so many trials in her life, but still cared so much for others. The children she taught adored her. She was Ari’s first teacher and he thought she was incredible. Even when he was no longer in her class he made a point to stop by and talk to her every day.
I found out that she had MS about halfway through his semester with her. Jessica was terrified about the possible progression of her MS. She was worried that she would end up alone. She was worried that she would’t be able to take care of herself. Her chronic pain made life difficult for her.
Last school year I got a call from her. She was sobbing and her speech was slurred. She was having a flare up and was in the hospital. She needed me to fill in for her for a day until she could get a real substitute teacher in her class. Even with everything going on she took the time to tell me about the students in her class. She wanted to make sure they were taken care of and wouldn’t lack anything with her out of the class.
Jessica told me that she suffered depression, but being busy made her feel better. She wasn’t one to say no to anything. She was involved in the Jewish community and simply by the sheer number of people at her funeral you can tell she was loved by so many.
My last conversation was about someone who hurt her by telling her that someone else had said she would be dependent for care in 10 years. This person was urged to sever contact with Jessica. She was so disheartened by this. She felt like this was confirming her worst fear. I told her not to listen to them and that anyone who didn’t see how great she was wasn’t worth her time. We’d made plans to get together once I got back from Europe, but obviously that didn’t happen.
I’m sure that her depression worsened after a painful break up, but I won’t put the blame totally on that. The suicide rate with MS patients is almost double that of the general population. I was told recently that the suicide rate of MS patients on the medication she took to control her symptoms is almost triple that of the general population.
I hate that she was so depressed and so desperate that she saw this as her only option. I hate it when I think of something I want to tell her and can’t call or text her about it. I’m devastated that I’ll never see her again. It’s hard even walking down the hall at the school past her office. I spent so much time in there talking to her that it seems surreal that I’ll never do that again.
It is my sincere hope that a cure is found for MS. I’m doing the MS Walk here in Houston to honor Jessica. I know it’s not much, but I had to do something for her. I also hope that the pain of losing Jessica speaks to people and encourages them to get help fighting depression.