I want you all to know about somebody named Maria [Last name redacted per family's request].
I first crossed paths with Maria in late 2005. She was a writer like me, though more so. She was funny like me, though more so. She was a prankster, a reader, and a bad film buff like me, though more so. She was dark like me, though more so. Infinitely more so.
Maria went back to college full-time while working a full-time job and got her degree. This is what I’m currently doing, and if I told you the fact that Maria did it has nothing to do with my resolve to do it too, I’d be lying. Though her degree isn’t the same as the one I’m pursuing, I looked up to her. I admired her. I believed that hers was an example worth following.
Maria has influenced everything from my vocabulary (I cannot say, “Huzzah!,” “Harumph!,” or several other antiquated—and hilarious—words without thinking of her) to my own writing, both fiction and non-fiction. Maria was a brilliant writer who penned short stories I had the honor of proofreading for her.
Maria is dead. She killed herself. She was found yesterday.
The rest of the details I have are few and not mine to share. I’m still very numb and feel a little lost, but I can say this:
Maria was lots of things to lots of people, but she always made an impression whether she believed it or not, and she was missed by many before she ever took her own life. We reached out to her, but she didn’t want to be reached. She didn’t want to be missed. She just wanted to die.
She leaves behind many people who love her and who will miss her, not the least of which are her own family members. Her many friends and acquaintances are drifting between devastated sadness and furious anger over what she’s done. Personally, I’m somewhere in the middle and keep veering between the two extremes in a way that threatens to give me motion sickness, but putting my own feelings aside, I just wanted you to know who she was. She was important. She was loved. She was appreciated. She was my friend. Despite everything she believed to be true about herself and the world, Maria was not insignificant, and she will not be forgotten.
I miss you, Penguins.