This Is a Letter to Lila, Who Would Have Turned 20 if She Hadn't Committed Suicide

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They say that time heals when grieving the loss of a loved one.

But it's been 2.5 years since you killed yourself, and I'm not so sure I'm doing any better. Maybe it's because I don't know how to let go. Maybe it's because I don't want to let go. Or maybe it's because:

"They say you die twice. One time when you stop breathing and a second time, a bit later on, when somebody says your name for the last time."

Lila, I have this fear that if I were to stop thinking about you, you would die that second time, and I would be the one responsible for it.

And I already feel responsible for the first time you died because I have something called survivor's guilt. I assumed that of all our friends, you'd be the one to come out on top. I assumed wrong, and now I'm paying for it. I still feel like I could have done more for you. Maybe a phone call could have been what saved you. And even if I couldn't have changed your mind, at least I could have tried distracting you to keep you alive for just one more day.

You know, it was through Facebook that I found out what you had done. Crazy, right?

It was the anniversary of when we first met and became friends, and I wanted to say hello. But do you know what posts I found on your wall?

"I miss you!"

"I can't believe you're gone."

"Rest in peace."

"How could you do this to me?"

Well, Lila, how could you?

The answer to that question's fairly simple. You kept on trying to kill yourself, and eventually, you did.

But I don't think that's what your friend was aiming for in that question. I think he meant to call you out for being selfish.

Lila, it took me 2.5 years later to realize that your suicide was hardly an act of selfishness.

If at all anything, you probably thought that your suicide was an act of selflessness. You probably told yourself "no one needs me" or even "the world would be better off without me."

And let's just suppose that there was someone in this situation who was selfish -- then it certainly would have to be that friend of yours or even me. We wanted to keep you alive in a world you thought made you suffer. And now that you're gone, we feel bad for ourselves because we're ridden with guilt that we couldn't do anything more to help you. We feel bad for ourselves because you didn't just shatter our hearts into little pieces -- you actually tried to take back one as though it were never there.

But it doesn't work like that, Lila. No one can just leave the world without a trace by committing suicide. You can't just undo the impact you've made on someone else's life. Once you enter someone's life like you entered mine, once you share with someone the joys of friendship, and once you set the standard for what it means to love a friend like a sister, you can't tell yourself that "no one needs me" or "the world would be better off without me" because those statements would be lies.

I know that in the grand scheme of things, my concerns for you would have amounted to little in that vast ocean of troubles you experienced, but here's a point to all this: if your being a part of my life has made me selfish to want you in my life, then I will, without hesitation, claim that selfishness as mine. It's proof to me that you made the world a more beautiful place while you were still here. It's proof to me that you are a friend worth wanting -- and needing -- in my life. Because now there exists for me no world without a Lila.

You taught me the value of trust in a friendship.

You taught me the value of love in a friendship.

You've inspired me to be open with and embrace others.

You've inspired me try to be the friend to others that you were to me.

You could never undo the good that you've done in my life, Lila, no matter how hard you tried, in the same way you could never undo how much I still love and miss you.

Happy birthday, kiddo.

Note: The fictitious name "Lila" has been used to respect her family's privacy.


Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.