Send the Damn Message

There’s a chance that one little message could save a life


Check on your friends. No matter how long it’s been since you’ve last talked to them. There’s a chance that one little text, phone call, or DM could save their life.

I’m sitting on the couch where the dining room bench once was, adjacent to the room with the sliding door where we would wake up at 7 a.m. to watch bad horror movies that summer. I was 12 and she was 7, but we would still play together because she seemed so “mature.” Her name was “L.”

She started off as a friend but after a year of our families sharing a house together, “L” became almost like family. She was the oldest of four and had two younger sisters and a younger brother who annoyed the hell out of me on the daily, but it was fine. I use to jokingly call her “Pants” because she complained about how much she hated skirts and dresses, just as much as her mother would complain that she hated “L’s” lazy eye. I still thought she was a pretty little girl.

We ran through the backyard screaming, acting like damn hooligans just because we could. We were kids. I told her about a boy I liked at school and we laughed about him together. We even gave him a secret nickname.

On somedays she would come home, complaining about how the kids at school would tease her about the dumbest things, like her eye or her clothes. It wasn’t fair. She didn’t deserve it. I knew her as a great listener and just an overall good friend. She was the type of friend I thought I would keep in my life forever.

Eventually, the day came and she and her family moved away. My mother woke me up from the nap to say goodbye to them. I went into the hallway and hugged them all goodbye. I hugged her a little longer because it felt like I was losing my best friend. I sat at the dining room bench while she went to one side of me and her brother to the other. My mom pulled out her disposable camera and snapped a picture of us. It all happened so fast. My friend walked out the door. I never saw her again, despite the constant promises to keep in touch.

Ten years later, I found myself on the doorstep of these memories. Standing next to my mom and another old family friend who was also close to “L’s” family.

“Have you heard from them?” My mom asked.

The friend responded, “Yeah, the oldest one was murdered.”

My mom gasped at this and I tried to figure out how to react.

“How did she die?” My mom asked the question both of us were thinking.

“She killed herself; she was 17. She hung herself.”

I don’t think anything could have prepared me for that slap in the face. That stab in the heart. Regret started to fill every bone in my body. I wish I would have been there for her.

I wish I would’ve kept in touch with her.

Did she die lonely? Did she die wanting a friend? Just one person to listen to her whether it was about deep shit or stuff that didn’t even matter? Did she die needing someone to tell her she fucking matters and her feelings matter rather than pushing her to the side? I’ll never truly know exactly what she felt in that moment but I can’t help but feel regret for never checking up on her.

I’m sitting on the couch where the dining room bench once was, adjacent to the room with the sliding door. I’m looking at the walls which were once a melodramatic shade of blue but are now a terrible apricot color. Sometimes I wish I could join her but I won’t because someone has to paint these ugly walls. I know it’s too late but I wish she was here to help me paint them. We could make a mess like we did when were kids and laugh about it in the mornings over a bad horror movie.