This is one of my most intimate entry from September 10, 2014.
Vincent Van Gogh, Alexander McQueen, Robin Williams and Avicii are on the list of people who committed suicide.
S-U-I-C-I-D-E. Whenever I hear this 7-letter word, it always brings me back to March 10, 1995.
On that unforgettable Friday afternoon, my then 6 year old younger sister and I at 8 years old, came home to a terrible sight. As I unlocked our bedroom door, we stumbled onto a hanging lifeless body. The body belonged to Ate Candy, our 12-year-old sister.
Naive and clueless then, I remembered holding her legs, shaking them and telling her to wake up. She never did.
No one could clearly tell why a young girl barely a teenage would kill herself.
I had times where I blamed myself for it because of the incident that happened the night before we lost her. She seemed quite disturbed and filled with anger. I forgot what I exactly asked from her, maybe it was help for my assignment but then she refused and broke my pencil. I told my mother about it and she got reprimanded for her attitude. I thought I was the reason.
I never understood what pushed her to do such a thing nor did anyone who knew her.
One day, during her wake, I had a dream of her. I was looking at her while she was facing a full length mirror. She saw a lot of things, maybe they were her personal monsters.
I woke up trying to figure out why I had this dream. Days after, my mother showed us her suicide letter that they had found.
I could barely recall everything except for one point. In her letter, she spoke of being afraid. She did not want to bring shame to our family.
She definitely epitomized Type A personality. A promising and active young leader, a top state scholar and a popular student. She exuded perfection in my eyes.
Years after her death my parents would still feel guilty that they were not able to stop it. They pointed fingers at each other on who was to blame. I could not blame any of them. I knew very well how much they loved my sister. I saw their immense agony at her funeral. Saying goodbye to their first born definitely was extremely difficult.
Years passed by and we eventually learned to move on, cope up an accept life without her. She was undoubtedly the biggest loss of our family.
We endured poverty and flood but nothing like this, death is a different kind of loss.
Saying goodbye to someone who shares the same blood as you is never easy.
What made it worst was that none of us knew what she was going through. She stayed in a dormitory as a state scholar in the province’s top university far from us. She only went home for the weekends. I always saw her happy. She always tried to make others smile, make new friends or help our neighbors improve on academics.
My sister’s death helped me get through tough times. I had to deal with a lot of things during university and even with the domestic violence that my mother had to endure.
I had fallen in and out of depression several time. There were times when I felt everything was overbearing, that I could not go on.
I had suicidal ideations and would stay in my room for days without food.
Each time I felt that I am succumbing to the hardship that life deals to me, I replayed the day when she died. My parents, my sister, and everyone who loved her in anguish and remind myself how hard times are temporary that if you just put up with it for a while it will be gone. Like a wheel, life is a cyle of ups and downs.
After studying about psychiatry in Nursing, I began to understand depression more. None of us is immune to it.
Life is and never will be easy. You need a lot of grit and a hopeful perspective to get through it.
I never understood how people manage to remain hopeful not until I read Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning again. It was among the old books that I hid in the closet. I did not take it seriously back in college.
This book opened my eyes to a lot of realization on how we are during suffering and one quote stood out for me.
“Those who have a ‘why’ to live, can bear with almost any ‘how’.”
When people go through depression or a lot of stress, they fall in a bottomless pit where they see no more meaning or hope in their lives. Sometimes not believing is easier than hoping. This is why we should always remind ourselves about our “WHYS (reasons) for living”.
Sometimes, I still wonder, if I could have stopped her. Though I know even if I found the answer to this, I can never bring her back.
I am just lucky enough to have a strong spirit to deal with life.
Her death gave me another reason for living, to help those who are at the brink of hopelessness, to be there for them, and to remind them that they are not alone in this battle.
Yes, I have lost a sister but she lives inside of me forever.
“Ultimately, man should not ask what the meaning of his life is, but rather must recognize that it is he who is asked. In a word, each man is questioned by life; and he can only answer to life by answering for his own life; to life he can only respond by being responsible.”
― Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning