It was a dark, rainy day. The raindrops fell, icy and relentless- on each and every person standing by her grave. There was no other sound to be heard. Nobody had a single word to say. It was almost as if our voices had been drained, and all we could do was stand mutely, frozen in shock and guilt.
She was a girl not unlike any other. You would see her laughing with her friends at the back of the class, her mind only partly in the topics being discussed.
You would see her hanging out at a coffee shop near school, always the first to advocate spending time with her friends. You would see her up to date with all the latest stories and gossip, always interested to learn something fun.
She was an average girl, not remarkable in any possible way, easy to get along with and quickly forgotten. She seemed affable, happy, and seemingly ordinary.
She was friendly, like I have said, but distant. I don't think I ever really knew her. Sure, I knew the kind of books she liked to read, the tv shows she loved to watch, the actors she had a crush on, and the classes she loved to ditch.
But my knowledge of her, who she was as a person, never went beyond skin deep. No one's did.
At the time, I took her as shy, unwilling to open up before knowing anyone for long.
How mistaken could I be!
Today, I feel she never told us about her life, because there was nothing to say.
Nobody wishes to hear about our struggles, right? How each day seems more difficult than the last? About how hard it can be sometimes to just get out of bed, amidst all the anger and violence that only makes us shut everything out and sleep the hours away. Nobody likes hearing stories about raised voices, shattered glass, belittling comments. They are so hard to believe.
The rose coloured glasses we wear before looking at the world have to come off, and we need to acknowledge there is darkness beyond them.
She was lazy.
She hardly came to school.
She wasn't that invested in her friends anymore.
She was hardly online.
She was still friendly.
She was still supportive.
She still seemed happy.
Then she was no more.
In sixth grade I broke my arm. I was running down a flight of stairs and just happened to slip very badly. It was incredibly painful, and the reason was just my own childishness.
But I remember my friends coming over to the hospital, with the latest gossip and gifts. My grandma spent a lot of time with me, mostly lecturing and spoiling me like I was five years old again. My friends signed my cast, and I got a month's break from school. Oh! And no homework! I was injured, after all. It was visible.
When you see something, you know it's there. A broken arm can be fixed with a cast. A deep cut can be fixed with stiches. A paracetamol tablet helps with fever. But what about something you cannot see?
"She's not talking to us."
"Hmm, let's just leave her out of it."
How do you describe that immense loneliness, that unexplainable frustration, the feeling of never being good enough?
How do you tell people you don't feel valued? How do you tell them that you ARE not valued, by the people who are closest to you?
No, these scars are invisible. Insidious and stealthy, creeping up in your mind and setting their roots in there so deeply that they are impossible to remove.
"Hey, it's alright, you're just tired. You need a break."
How many times have people heard this when they were tired, not physically but emotionally?
How many times have they just decided it's "all in their head", and instead of getting help, decided they can deal with their grief alone?
What's invisible can't be real, can it?
Sometimes, all it takes is to check up on a friend who hasn't been online for days. Sometimes, all it takes is to ask them out for coffee together, and share a little gossip. All it takes is to let them know, that they are not alone. Little things, taking up less than a minute of our time, can mean so much to some people. These little things matter, and they can save a life.
Standing there in the biting rain, all I could think about- as the tears poured down my cheeks, was that if I had only thought about my friend before, if I had only been there for her when she needed me, she would still be here today.
All it would have taken was a little time.
And the realization that "invisible is not unimportant."