The day that I met Dee was probably the worst day of my life.
And it had less to do with actually meeting her and more to do with the fact that I met her at my mother’s funeral.
My family wasn’t close, but my mother showered me with so much love, it more than made up for it. She told me that she loved me every day.
“I love you more than the moon and stars and planets and comets and…” she would say, slowly combing her fingers the length of my dirty, blonde hair. It seemed like the list got longer every day.
And I would collapse into a fit of giggles as she tickled me and sprinkled wet kisses all over my neck.
My heart felt ripped into a million bits as that memory permeated my thoughts as I stared down at her pale, lifeless face, her lips always curved into a smile, now in a thin line.
She would never smile again.
I would never see her cheerful eyes toying with me, waiting for me to smile back at her.
A guttural wail escaped from the depths of my soul and I collapsed into a heap onto the floor.
I barely noticed the arms that scooped me up and guided me into my chair.
But, the warmth of the embrace enveloped me and gave me brief respite from the pain until my cries quieted to intermittent hiccups and deep sighs.
“I’m Dee,” came the still, even voice. Wiping away my tears with her shirt, she continued, “I know that we don’t know each other, but I am here for you.”
When the funeral was over, I stood trying to muster up the courage to return to my childhood home, a place where every smell, every decorative ornament, every room would make bittersweet memories of my mother come flooding back, threatening to drown me in sorrow.
After he last shovel-full of dirt had been patted over her coffin and the last mourner left, I stood in a daze, unable to move.
“I can come home with you if you want,” came Dee’s voice, sounding like a soothing song.
Relief washed over me as she interlocked her arm into mine and walked me to my car.
On the ride home, she chatted happily about her life, her home, her own mother and it seemed that we were kindred spirits. I’d almost forgotten my sadness.
Until my 1996 Nissan Altima screeched to a halt in front of my house.
The air felt so thick, I couldn’t breathe.
Sensing this, Dee barked, “Breathe.”
And, so I did. A few times.
When the oxygen had returned to my body enough for my legs to work, I slowly slid my feet out of the car and willed them to move toward the door.
Once inside, Dee flew around the house, catering to me.
She stayed with me through the night.
That was the hardest night.
And while my tears flowed like the Mississippi, Dee simply ran her fingers through my hair, just like my mother used to do, whispering, “I’m right here,” over and over, until I fell asleep.
The next day, I felt better.
But, I started to become afraid of what would happen to me once Dee left.
So, I told her as much.
“Well, that’s an easy fix,” she shrugged. “I’ll just move in.”
Was this for real? Was it really this easy??
I was convinced that my bad days were behind me.
How wrong I was.
In the beginning, it was like the most fun, longest, best slumber party ever! We ate all kinds of junk food, listened to music, played games, watched movies, and just talked for hours and hours.
Days turned into months and she became the best friend I have ever had.
At around the seventh month, I decided that I was ready for my life to go back to normal. I had a job that waiting for me. Many of my co-workers sent flowers and cards of condolence. I had friends who told me that I could call them if I needed them. It just seemed that the phone weighed a billion tons unless I was playing Candy Crush. I even had a boyfriend who gave me my space and told me to take all the time that I needed to heal from the loss of my mother.
Basically, everything and everyone in my life was waiting for me to be okay.
And I was finally starting to feel okay.
So, I put on my black and white checkered skirt suit and heels and got ready to head out the door.
“Where are you going??” came Dee’s voice like a razor from the darkness.
“Oh! You scared me!” I exclaimed, clutching my heart which was threatening to be its way out of my chest. “I’m going to work today.”
I honestly thought that she would be proud.
The look of disgust that shrouded her face told me otherwise.
“And what the hell am I supposed to do while you’re at work?” Dee asked, venomously.
“I don’t know,” I shrugged nonchalantly, ready to launch into some constructive suggestions. “You can stay here, I guess. Or you can go home if you’d like…”
“I don’t have a home, you ungrateful bitch! I gave up my home to be here for YOU! And now you just want to leave??”
At first, I was trying to understand why she was speaking so harshly. We’d NEVER had an exchange like that!
But, then I started thinking about how well she cared for me, listened to me, made her entire world about me and decided that she kind of had a point. For all that she’d done for me, all she’d given up to be there for me, how could I just leave?
So, I slumped down into the couch next to her and settled in to watch Days of Our Lives.
Patting my hand and smiling, she said, “This will be so much better than some boring, old job. You’ll see.”
It wasn’t better.
Every day for a week, it was the same routine.
About a week later, I called Daniel.
“I’m so glad to hear from you,” he said. I must admit that I was relieved that he still cared for me and hadn’t moved on to someone else.
He asked to take me out to dinner at my favorite restaurant.
I feel ashamed to admit that I snuck out while Dee was sleeping.
I had a wonderful time! I felt so ashamed that I’d left Daniel blowing in the wind for so long. He chattered excitedly about all that was going on in his life. He was such a gentleman. He seemed happy just to be in my company.
I felt special.
When I came home, I was still glowing from the amazing night, the sweet taste of his lips lingering on mine.
Dee greeted me at the door with tear stained eyes.
And a knife.
“Why did you leave me?”
I was so afraid, the words seemed stuck in my throat.
“I…you were…we…” I stammered, gesturing toward the door.
She took off like a bolt toward me, letting out an animal like scream. She thrusted the knife toward my midsection with purpose and precision.
“I HOPE YOU ARE READY TO DIE, BITCH!”
I threw myself into the bathroom and, hands shaking, I managed to lock the door.
I climbed into the bathtub and crouched into a ball.
I had forgotten to lock the second door.
By the time I heard it burst open, she was already on top of me, plunging the knife in and out of me.
Her bared teeth and droplets of blood smattering across her face was the last thing that I saw before everything went black.
I woke up in a strange bed. I couldn’t move.
“What’s happening? Where am I?”
A cheerful nurse came over and gentle touched my shoulder.
“Lie down, dear. You have been through a lot.”
I laid back down, more from the pain and sheer exhaustion than desire.
“Where’s Dee?” I croaked.
“Dee?” asked the nurse, thoroughly confused.
“Surely you see the wounds that I have!”
“What do you remember?”
I told her the whole story.
She patiently waited for me to finish my story before saying, in an even voice, “You tried to kill yourself. If it hadn’t been for your boyfriend going back to check on you after he called you and got no response, you would be dead.”
At that moment, the last seven months flashed before my eyes.
It was me who kept me at home, shut off from the world.
It was me that called me names, telling myself that I was worthless.
It was me that tried to kill me.
There was only one sentence playing over and over in my head: Dee was a bitch.
Depression is a bitch.
But, I survived.