I woke up on Tuesday feeling pretty good. I had actually slept well the night before - a cause for celebration these days. I went down to my neighbor's to chat and he was on a conference call so I went back upstairs to discover I had pulled the ultimate bonehead move - I was locked out. God, that's a shitty feeling, isn't it? I went down and called the building engineer who (because I'm a bonehead) did not have a current key and was not able to break in. Luckily, I did have my debit card on me so I headed to Starbucks (in my pajamas, just a tee shirt and shorts, cuz I'm classy like that), got my caffeine and some breakfast and went back to my neighbor's to wait until my friend, who has an extra key, could get there to let me in.
While at Eric's (my kindly neighbor and great friend) I got a call from my best friend from treatment. I was thrilled because she had been really struggling and would only talk to me through texts. Now she was finally calling! We caught up for a minute and then she said something that made my stomach drop, my chest ache and my heart break. "Kristina died this morning." Someone tells you something like that the instinctual reaction is to say, "WHAT?!?!?!" No she's not, I was thinking. I just talked to her last week and told her I was coming to visit. She told me how much she loved me and how excited she was for my visit. She's not dead!!!!
But she is. My beautiful friend Kristina is dead at age 22.
When you go through treatment for anorexia with other women who share the horrible affliction, you form a bond that cannot be broken. These women are my sisters, my friends, my supporters and confidants. I never for a minute thought I would lose one of them. I have lost her and the reality is that it could happen again. It's still surreal with Kristina because she is out in California and I couldn't get there for the services. She's just...gone.
My friend Caroline, a baby at 20, is the one who found her, dead of an apparent intentional heroin overdose. Her best friend was lying there, face grossly bloated, gone from this world and all of us. My heart breaks for Caroline because something like that changes you forever. I can only lend her some of my strength so she can carry on and continue kicking ass in her own recovery.
People have said it was selfish for her to do overdose and hurt those who loved her. I don't feel that way at all. Some people have demons who are just too strong for them to fight in this lifetime and I believe that of Kristina. She fought every minute of every day but each and every one of us has a certain amount of fight in us and I think she just finally reached her breaking point. One can only take so much before breaking. She was just like the rest of us and she reached her breaking point. Kristina just broke.
The recovery rate for anorexics is the same as for drug addicts - 16%. What the hell are your odds if you are dealing with both? What the hell do you do if you have no family support? Perhaps her odds were simply insurmountable and she is now in a place where she is free of the pain and demons that constantly plagued her. I like to think this. No more demons, no more pain for that beautiful and tortured soul.
Her memorial service is going on as I type this. I so wish I was there, not just to say goodbye to Kristina but to also be with my other sisters in recovery. Their hearts are broken, too and today must be almost unbearably painful. There truly is strength in numbers. At least they are together, remembering and honoring her.
Anorexia is the most deadly of any mental disorder. I just never thought I'd have experience with it myself. The world lost a beautiful soul on Tuesday and I lost a dear, dear friend. Nothing can prepare you for such a tragedy.
I am so afraid one or more of my sisters in recovery will use this as an opportunity to relapse and I pray that doesn't happen. Who feels like eating when you've just lost a best friend? But we HAVE to! There is no option. I have seen one of us already fall into a negative habit and my heart clenches in fear that I could lose her as well. I am choosing to stay strong and eat when I'm not hungry, stay busy and not isolate in my condo. Kristina would want that. She would be so pissed if someone engaged in dangerous behaviors because of her passing. I can hear her swearing now and that brings a smile to my face.
Hug those you love. Call a friend you haven't spoken to in a while. Remember how blessed you are to have friends in your life. You never know it. One day, you could lose someone important to you with no warning whatsoever.
I will love you always forever, Kristina and will carry you in my heart forever. I'll remember you not for your demons but for your laughter, your beauty inside and out and your sarcastic sense of humor - the same sense of humor that got the two of us through some difficult meals. Laughing makes even the hardest meal go down more easily.
I miss you so much already and still can't believe what has happened. How can this be? How can you be dead?
Simply gone and gone forever.
I love you, Kristina. Thank you for being a part of my life.