Ali, I miss you. It’s been almost five years but it hasn’t gotten any less strange, you not being here.

In 2012, Ali lost her battle with depression. She fought it valiantly for a long time, leaving no stone on the healing spectrum unturned. In & out patient treatment. Group and art and animal and music therapy. CBT, DBT, MBT, yoga and meditation. Socializing and self care, vitamins and exercise, crystals and hypnosis. Supplements, powders, and finally, pills. Blue ones and orange ones and green ones. White bottles with black warning labels that reminded me of the cigarettes they sell in Italy. Il fumo uccide. She knew she was taking a risk, that what was supposed to restore her brain chemistry could also cause irreparable deterioration of the will to live. Even a temporary dip in mood could prove fatal in the last stages of abysmal despair. Not everyone was as brave as Ali. She fought the dragon of depression like a knight, nobly wielding her tools against it. But she was on fire and had to save herself from the flames the only way she knew how. Suicide is never successful. The only thing committed is an amputation—severing the soul from pain. When the bottom is bottomless, I think that’s when people lose hope.

I think a lot about July 8th, 2012. A hot night according to the farmer’s almanac—the air honey thick and vibrating with cicadas. If I shut my eyes I can see the moon waning gibbous, a watchful eye closing slowly. We pieced Ali’s night together into a mosaic of grim facts: she went shopping for supplies, her corporeal self brought back to life via grainy security footage. She got in her car, drove it to the edge of the woods, got out and sprinted barefoot through the summer thicket. Toward the light.

They say our final images are imprinted onto the brain before death—and I want to believe that she looked up at the sky before she died. Were the stars out for her? Deep down, I know that she was alone in the dark. She had been for a long time.

I could have done something to save her, that’s what everyone thought when we heard the news. Grief bargaining, crossing over into the past, watching old memories over and over in our minds until we were soulsick with the realization that she was gone forever—that took some time to sink in. Five years later, I can finally write about it. It’s strange to think that I’m alive and she’s not. But maybe it’s all a dream anyway and when we die we wake up.