About Corrine.

Years ago I became friends with a woman named Corrine. She was a couple of years older than me. We weren't best friends, but for a couple of years we kept each other company and were quite close. We shared coffee and stories and laughter as our husbands served in the military together. After a year or two they moved away to the other side of the country, but we kept in contact by phone regularly. She loved my sense of humor and loved to pick my brains about stuff. She didn't have many friends, and seemed to be really fond of me. She was a happy, cheerful person who loved to laugh, worried about little things, loved her husband and baby daughter, and had a unique way of looking at the world. Besides her husband and daughter, she was close to her mother who lived close by and apparently suffered from depression. This made Corinne sometimes concerned and she often shared her thoughts with me about it.

One day Corinne called me, devastated. Her mother had committed suicide. She had chosen to take her life on Corrine's birthday, which was also her own birthday. She had done it shortly after making plans for Corinne to come to see her, and they had talked on the phone a couple of hours before. When Corinne arrived at her mother's house, she found her. She had hung herself. Her mother had known Corinne would be the one to find her.

I could not, and still cannot understand how a mother could do that to her daughter. Corinne called me many times, agonizing over what had happened, desparate for answers that wouldn't come. I was young, in my late 20's with no experience of these things, never knowing what to say, but just listening to her. We spent hours on the phone. Corinne became obsessed with her mother's mental illness, she was terrified that she would inherit it and do the same thing to her own daughter one day. She would ask me over and over again "Why would she do this on our birthday? What message was she trying to tell me? What if I do the same thing?" I could only assure her that she was not suffering from her mother's sickness, that everything would be OK, that she should seek professional help to work through her grief and confusion.

A few months passed. I came home from work one day to hear a message from Corinne on my answering machine asking me to call her because she was feeling pretty messed up. It was nothing new, she knew I'd call her. I didn't feel the need to call her immediately, I was busy, tired, had lots to do and figured I'd call her the next day. Besides, our conversations lately all seemed to be about the same thing, obviously, and I felt a bit emotionally drained. Yep, I'd just call her tomorrow.

The next call I got was from her husband the next day, asking me if I'd heard from Corinne. He said she'd disappeared without a trace. No note, no warning, nothing. Just gone. He said the only thing he could see that was missing was a little commemorative plate they had had made when their daughter was born. He and I both thought she'd just gone off somewhere to think and sort out her mind, and we thought she'd show up. Nonetheless, he had called the police, and everyone was looking.
The last call I got was from her husband, the next day. He told me they had found her. My first reaction was "Thank God! Where was she? How was she?" But it wasn't good news. They had found her in a hotel room. She had hung herself.

I cannot tell you how many times I've wondered how things might have been different if I'd called her right back, instead of waiting. I have beaten myself up for not worrying enough about her, for not seeing the signs. I had no prior experience regarding depression or suicide, but still, how blind could I be? I didn't realize that she felt that close to me, that I would be someone she'd reach out to just before deciding to end her life. I don't feel responsible for what she chose to do. But I do feel that I could have influenced the outcome. My ignorance, my stupidity, my "Polly-Anna-everything-will-be-OK" dumb outlook on life did nothing to help her. I cannot forgive my careless attitude. I should have picked up the phone and just listened to her, even if that's all I could have done. Perhaps she'd still be here today.

Her actions were selfish and desparate, born from grief and confusion. My inaction was also selfish. And I have no excuses.
SKeshvari SKeshvari
46-50, F
2 Responses Dec 2, 2012

Thank you, thelonewood, for your kindness, I'm sure you're right, and I've prayed many times for her. Many years have passed, but I never want it to feel "OK" with me. This is the first time I've shared this story openly.

She was depressed and she needed someone to talk to. But no, it was not your fault. Do not beat yourself over something that wasn't your responsibility. And if she was here, I'm sure she'll tell you it wasn't your fault. All we can do now is to pray for her and her peace.