I’m sure your life sucks right now because of your friend’s death. She was so young; how sad. I’m writing to say that your sadness will continue…probably for a long time. I simply cannot imagine being your age and having to deal with such an event. Still, over time the sadness will fade and you will find a way to accept what happened without anger or pain. You will find a way to heal, but neither I nor anyone else will know how or when that will happen. But certainly it will happen.
You probably know a lot more about what was going on in your friend’s mind than a stranger can. Perhaps the sexual abuse affected her, but I think one cause is that at that age, people act too suddenly without thinking. Some are prone to depression — a lot more than people realize, but when people become adults, they are at least mentally able to get help or to chill out while they figure out a solution. But your friend was too young to be able to do this, and she did not know how to find an escape. If you told her not to do anything rash, then you did the right thing. In retrospect, maybe you should have found an adult as well, but you did the best you could; the truth is that it’s hard to know when people are just saying things and when they really mean it.
I recommend that you read a book, My Antonia by Willa Cather. It is a great book, and in it there is a suicide, that of Antonia’s father. It is a terrible chapter when it happens-. And yet throughout the book we see that even though the father was a minor character in the novel, in fact his name comes up repeatedly in Antonia’s conversations –although not in a sad way. She gains the ability through the years to understand her father better and even to see a little bit of himself in her as well. The memory stays alive and continues to shape Antonia both in the present and the future. Without denying the pain of it, Antonia is able to proceed through life in a semi-normal way.
You have learned about something very important –the fragility of human life. It is a terrible kind of knowledge; it does not make your life happier as a teenager, but it prepares you and helps you understand what it is really important. Teenagers take a lot of chances; they do crazy things, they don’t know when to stop; they don’t live with a sense that things could end quickly. Now you understand how precious and fragile a person’s life really is.
You also have a secret sadness. For now your friends and family know about what happened, and they will help you the best that they can (even though they can never know what you really feel). One wishes that people could have given Megan the same amount of care and attention, but in truth people either didn’t know about it or didn’t know the best way to help her. The real tragedy is that Megan will never be able to live a full life and see how many people could offer kindness to lessen the pain of abuse. Megan trusted you with her pains; maybe you couldn’t solve all of her problems, but I’m sure your care and concern made her life a little happier.
Later in your life, though, most of your friends won’t know about your loss. Perhaps you will tell some of your friends, but you cannot possibly tell everybody. In a way, she will be your secret. My guess is that 30 or 40 years from now you will be able to remember Megan just as vividly as you do now. Despite what people say, memories don’t really fade, especially important memories. And memories of Megan will remain important memories. At times they will bring you down (especially if you are also down), but more likely your memories of Megan will make you laugh; (by the way, those are funny silly photos! loved them!). Megan is a one-of-a-kind person; sure you will find other friends, but nobody will replace Megan and what she means to you.
Megan Leigh Crouch, you were so young that you could not deal with the pains of living. The world shall always weep your loss.
(See also this commemoration video by her mother and a small announcement in the local newspaper). See also my writeup about the mother’s unsuccessful attempt to put the alleged child abuser behind bars.