When I was 20 years old, I killed my best friend.

She wasn’t my best friend. I didn’t know her that well. I think she had a crush on me. I told her my co-op was safe when it was not safe. She moved there to be nearer to me but I didn’t realize that until it was too late. She wanted to be my friend. She wanted me to save her.

I couldn’t save her.

She told me she was raped and I told her all the right things. I tried to tell her all the books to read and all the resources to get. I told her the things I’d done that helped me. She wanted to talk about it. She wanted my emotional support. She wanted me to be her navigator. She wanted me to be her guide.

She wanted me to be what every rape survivor wants and never gets — someone who’s been there first, someone who can talk them through it.

It’s the most human thing in the world.

I should have gone with her to get counseling. I shouldn’t have assumed that she had it all together just because she acted like she had it all together. I should have seen her insecurity. I should have known how far apart from all the rest of us she had gotten. I should have.

Everyone should have. Not just me.

I woke up in the middle of the night and I went to check on her but I didn’t trust myself. I didn’t wake anybody up. I didn’t want to be a pest.

I didn’t want to be a pest, and in the morning she was dead.

On the floor of that co-op. Surrounded by those people I told her were safe.

They were not safe. They let her die.

She was not safe, for herself. She killed herself with alcohol and pain medication. I watched her kill herself. She dropped out of college because she was raped. She dropped out of college because she didn’t know how to deal with it. I should have talked to someone else about it. I should have recognized that she was someone’s responsibility.

She was my responsibility, because I loved her.

She was a lot of other people’s responsibility, but they didn’t love her. Or they didn’t know how to love her. We were all broken. Or. We were all selfish. Or.

I was not trying to be selfish. I was trying to love her by leaving her alone.

Sometimes actions cannot be undone.

I loved her. I loved her. She was the fat positive activist. She was the socialist organizer. She was so many things I so badly wanted to be.

She was my sister and now she’s dead. I didn’t think she needed me. I didn’t trust myself to read her correctly. I thought since she was rich and white and well-resourced what could she need me for? I thought she was so much smarter and savvier than me. I thought she was better off without me. I thought if I loved her too much she would think less of me, think I was pitiful. I thought.

And now she’s dead.

I killed the best friend I never even had.

Because I was too busy trying to be the kind of person she could love, to actually love her.

Writes all the things. Photographs the light. Smiles at odd moments. Reads in the shower. Sings to the trees. Hopes a lot.

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