Lee to Rachel, 8 years later

Every year on the anniversary of Lee's sister's suicide, she writes a post on Facebook. This is her post this year:

I'm at a loss. It's February 26, 2017. Eight years ago, my sister, my only sibling, my friend Rachel killed herself when she could no longer take the unrelenting pain and pressure of her mental diseases. Eight years. Every year on this day, I take to Facebook to memorialize her and to plead with you all to change the dialog that surrounds mental diseases in this country. And there are changes. They are happening slowly, but they are happening.

But I realized this year that Rachel is only a name to most of you. Most of you didn't have the privilege of knowing her. There are some of you who did, and you assure me that you will never forget her. But most of you don't know her. And I'm at a loss as to how to explain her to you.

Her smile that could split her face and that ALWAYS reached her eyes.

Her roar of laughter.

Her insistence of doing things the right way (or her over-insistence on perfectionism, depending on my mood and how I choose to describe it).

Her hugely caring heart that made her bring homemade pie and bourbon to friends in need.

Her insecurity that she wasn't doing enough. Enough for her friends. Enough for her family. Enough for this world.

Her love of her nieces and her wonder in their compact perfection.

Her unmitigated deviousness on the soccer field. (Woe be unto the person who tried to run her over. She would bide her time and then take that person DOWN.)

Her heartbreaking self-doubt that she would try to hide from the world.

Her utter inability to carry her liquor.

Her stubbornness.

Her determination.

Her courage.

Rachel would have been amazed at how her death and her absence in our lives have affected those of us who were fortunate enough to have known her. She never realized how truly loved she was.

As I do every year on this day, I urge you to reach out to someone who you know is struggling. Don't judge. Don't try to "fix" things. Just hug them and tell them that you love them. Even if you are at odds with that person, do it. Do it now. Go on. I'll wait for you.

Posted on March 16, 2017 .