I remember answering the phone and asking her, “how many pills did you take?” She held the phone and didn’t answer for a while. I could hear the sound of her breathing, but no answer.
I asked again, “how many pills did you take?” She answered, “a lot.”
“How many is a lot?”
“Maybe half the bottle or the whole bottle.”
I asked her, where she was calling from, she said her room. I asked if it was ok to put down the phone and visit her. She said ok.
The walk from my dorm room to hers was brisk. It didn’t take more than 10 minutes. I knocked on the door when I arrived, hoping she would open the door and not change her mind. I stood in front of the door, listening to her foot steps, as she took her time to get up and open it.
I don’t remember if I gave her a hug, or said hi. I walked in and sat on the bed.
I asked her what she wanted to do about eating all these pills. She said she wasn’t sure. I remember it took some time, some questions back and forth but eventually we walked to the hospital, and she admitted herself. I remember watching her sign through the window then the nurse lead her behind the closed doors, as I fell into the leather waiting room chairs.
I don’t remember how long I sat there, or what TV show was playing, but I remember my residential manager walking through the emergency doors. He is a huggy type, so I’m sure he gave me a hug. I asked him what will happen and he said, her parents were notified and on their way. He said her stomach was pumped with black tar to make her vomit all the pills. He said I could go home.
I don’t know what prompted her to call me that night, to tell me, of all people that she had eaten a whole bottle of aspirin. I don’t remember being particularly close with her, maybe she knew I was a residential advisor, but not her residential advisor. I don’t know what she had been going through but she reached out to me.
I haven’t thought about this incident for years, but today I read a book about teenage suicide that moved me. It reminded me of this day and that phone call.
After graduation, I heard she had moved to New York City and became an artist and activist and I hope that day she called me gave her a second chance.
Thirteen Reasons, by Jay Asher was on my Facebook feed, there was a link to a teaser trailer, called a passion project soon to be released by the singer, actress, Selena Gomez. I know, poor reason to read this book, but hey, it looked interesting and I wanted to read it before someone ruined it by making it into a movie.
The novel is about 13 audio tapes recorded by a teenager and passed on to different people who affected her. The author was inspired by listening to an audio tape at a museum, listening to the voices that stay with you. Author, Sherman Alexie, wrote praise for this book as a mystery, eulogy, and a ceremony… a book that he will often return to.
I hope not to return to this book, but it does remind me to see everyone around you, do not let them be invisible and be kind to each other. I’m glad he wrote this book for others, who need to talk but cannot yet find the words.