Last August marked six years since Charlotte, my dear friend and muse, took her own life. At just after half past eleven, on the anniversary, I knocked back one shot of tequila and lime, her tipple of choice, and sparked a light to her memory once more into the darkest corners of my heart.
It has been a long six years. Loss is of course never simple; in that time many swathes of contrasting emotions have come and gone, then returned when least expected with sharpened talons eager to sink deeper into protective layers.
I’ve written about Charlotte many times, and it is reasonable to wonder why. My only answer to that question would be that it helps me keep her memory alive. Apart from being one of my drawing models, she was a fountain of encouragement to me whilst planning my arty path.
Six years later, it is good to keep Charlotte’s memory shining bright. And, after six years I am beginning to realise that her death was not my fault, nor could I have stopped it happening. I may have delayed it, but the suicide letter she left me, her coda, her valediction, left little doubt it would have only been postponing the inevitable.
Why she decided I would be the only recipient of her final words I am still trying to understand; however, I read them again last week, for the first time in three years, and find in some ways I am finally understanding it. If we had lived together, as was her wish, at some point I may have seen the wall she was creating around herself, but doubt that even by doing so it would have made any difference. The foundations of Charlotte’s wall began when she was very young, and over the thirty two years of her life she became very accomplished at disguising it from even those closest to her.
I have heard many opinions of suicide over the years. Brave; cowardly, are words that stick like bluebottle to fly paper, but personally, I subscribe to neither. For Charlotte, it was clear she just couldn’t manage life anymore and, whilst it is the most saddening thing, I have no other feeling than respect for her. I guess that every person has their own reasons to check out, and I for one shall never judge Charlotte for her decision. I shall merely lament that she chose not to stay longer. I cannot help but imagine the many memories she could have experienced.
‘I never want to get old, ‘ she wrote in her beautifully calligraphic handwriting, something that never ceases to amaze me, ‘it would give my demons more time to terrorise me.’
Some have advised me to hide the note away. Some have offered to take it off my hands. Others have suggested I destroy it, but to do so would be an insult to Charlotte, and the energy and thought she put into it, at a time when one could not be blamed for thinking of other things. And, it is from her, to me. A gift. A last gift, all wrapped up in a multitude of layers.
I like to write about Charlotte, in the way I liked to draw her. Some may find that odd. Some may think it’s dwelling upon stuff. Frankly, I find myself not giving a fuck about the where’s; the whys; the whatever’s.
It works. And, that is all.
As I raise the tequila to my lips I may well imagine her elsewhere, in another place, another time, and wonder what she makes of all the chaos that followed in her wake.
But I probably won’t. What’s the point? No, I will most likely just smile at the knowledge she is part of me, in the same way so many others are.
And, that is a lovely thing to know.