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Vox Audita Perrit, Literra Scripta Manet....
The heard word is lost, the written letter remains...
After yesterday, I feel ready to address what happened further.

This is Maryke. The photo was taken two years ago at Christmas, and the children are my niece Ella and my nephew William, my brother Ben's kids. She hated small children, but loved her nieces and nephews and got along with them so well. She would've turned twenty on the 18th of July.

Maryke liked watching the Ellen DeGeneres Show, The Daily Show and At Home with the Braithwaites. She loved the music of Elliott Smith and Lou Reed, read John Irving obsessively and counted Wes Anderson, Quentin Tarantino and Clint Eastwood among her favourite filmmakers.

I don't recall how much I've talked about her on this journal at the moment. I'm quite certain that when I did, it was always in some sort of annoyed rant. She used to comment here anonymously if there was a post she didn't like or disagree with. She had a deadjournal for a while too, but I discovered yesterday that it had been deleted. Maybe she knew that I might go to read it, even though I don't think she'd updated it for quite some time.

What might be gleaned from what I wrote about Maryke is that she was a rather complex person. She wasn't particularly emotional or sentimental about a lot of things. She hated hugging friends and relatives and avoided being in family photos. I believe she was far closer to her friends than she was to me, or any of our family for that matter. This isn't to say that she didn't love us of course, but that her friends were equally family to her, and that she was very close to them.

Maryke and I were close when we were little, but when we were sent to Stuartholme when she was 12 and I was 15, we sort of drifted apart. She never liked life in the boarding house, whereas I came to embrace it. I think I probably embarrassed her quite a bit, because I was very homesick and very emotional in that first year. I talked quite openly about my feelings (and I still do), but Maryke just wasn't that kind of person, quite the opposite, in fact.

One of the important events that happened to me while at Stuartholme was that I became Catholic. I've spoken before about my conversion, and the need I felt to belong to the community. Conversely, Maryke didn't like having to go to mass every week and take religion classes. As an atheist, Maryke never quite understood faith, and religion became a very sore point between the two of us. We argued about the church constantly. She never understood how I could be progressive in my beliefs and yet belong to a church that has proven to be very intolerant towards certain groups in society. I believe she thought that I should have embraced everything about the church when I committed to being a member of it, that there was no room for my own opinions. But it's probably far more complicated than that. I guess I'll never know now.

Maryke never seemed to find her calling in life. I used to say that if I was Sherlock Holmes, then she was Mycroft. She was so intelligent and wise. She got top marks on her assignments with very little effort, and got an OP of 1 (think the best result you can get in a SAT or your A Levels). But she tried two courses at uni (creative industries first, and then maths) and dropped out both times. She just couldn't find the effort in her to do the work. For about six months, she worked as a secretary in a law firm (a job that she hated) and finally from about the middle of last year, she worked at an ice cream parlour in the food court in Queen St Mall. She herself admitted that she was lazy by nature. I believe that more than anything else, she wanted to be a filmmaker. But after dropping out of creative industries, I don't know whether she just decided to put that vocation aside. She just wanted to make films, not learn the theory behind it, I suppose.

When I got back from church yesterday, I got to read the letter that she had left in her bag. It's a very Maryke letter. Understated, not at all sentimental or emotional. She writes along the lines that she couldn't find it in her to be happy anymore, that she no longer wanted to 'be', as it were. That she thought that choosing between life and death was the individual's choice, and that she had chosen to end her life. She apologizes at the end of the letter "I love you, I'm sorry I've hurt you." I daresay that she had been turning this over in her mind for quite some time now.

The best way for me to look at this sad loss is that there wasn't much any of us could do. Mum knew Maryke was unhappy. Dad thought she might have been suffering from depression. Like I said before though, Maryke just wasn't the type of person to talk about her feelings. I doubt she would've talked to a counsellor or therapist. That just wasn't in her nature. None of us could ever have guessed that she was this unhappy though. She never gave off that impression. What I gather though, is that this kind of suicide is always a shock to those around the person. They could never imagine this occurring.

I said before that Maryke and I weren't close. Anyone who went to school with us can recognize that we were very, very different people. Some of our teachers were surprised that we were even related! But I regret that I never told my sister that I loved her. I didn't because I knew she'd hate it. But I still wish that I had verbalized it. On Friday, when I was going into the city for work on the bus, I saw her walking up Caxton street. That was the last time I saw her alive. I didn't even say goodbye to her when she was last here, on Thursday evening. I thought I'd see her again, no problem. But I didn't.

At this point, I think I've gotten through the worst of my grief. I went to church yesterday and talked to a few priests that I'm good friends with. Writing about it has been very therepeutic for me, and the condolances that I've had from you have been of great comfort to me. My parents and Maryke's closest friends however, suffer much worse than I do. As I said before, the solace that we all take from this is that there wasn't much we could do for her. We couldn't anticipate that it would come to this. There's a strong sense of helplessness felt by everyone, but Maryke made the point in her letter that we were not to blame ourselves for this. And I have to respect that, difficult as it is. This was out of our hands.

I have two Stuartholme old girls on my friends list (Jessamy and Shivvy), and there may be others who read this journal that I'm not aware of. From what I can gather presently, word has been getting around about what's happened. I'm a little uncertain on how I feel about that, but it's probably for the best. Certainly, if all the girls who are attending the reunion next week find out beforehand, then perhaps I won't have to answer so many questions about it. I still plan to attend the reunion too, because so many of the girls in my grade were an unfailing support to me when I was there, and I was going through rough times.

I myself plan on paying a visit to Stuartholme tomorrow afternoon. In particular, I want to speak with Maryke's Japanese teacher Mr Webb, and with the chaplain, Mr Reed. And there are other teachers that I would like to talk to as well, any that taught Maryke for that matter. Because while she might not have always enjoyed being there, she had a lot of respect and affection for the teachers, and vice versa.

At this point, I'm not making any changes to my schedule this week. Maryke wouldn't want me sitting around grieving for her (in fact, she'd probably be pretty disgusted with me if I did that). I still want to put together my presentation and critiques for Thursday. I may tell Rick and Roxanne, and I have no doubt they'll fully understand that if I can't give the presentation. Giving the presentation may hinge on when we choose to hold Maryke's funeral. Dad's considering Wednesday or Thursday at the moment, so we shall see.

Current Mood: contemplative contemplative

11 comments or Leave a comment
engastrimyth From: engastrimyth Date: May 13th, 2007 04:28 am (UTC) (Link)
I went with Maddy, Josh, Cass, Ash and Fiona to help pack up Maryke’s things from the apartment yesterday. While we were there we found what Maddy said was Maryke’s journal of sorts – just stories and stuff like that, not really a diary. Cass happened to open it up at a draft of a stand-up comic routine, and at the start Maryke was saying she became interested in comedy because her parents didn’t love her, but then broke off to state that her whole family was very loving and supportive of her despite how (I’m not quite sure what the rest of it was, but I think it was something like) difficult she could be at times, and that she appreciated it.

I don’t know if you know about that already or anything, or if you’ve already read it or she read it to you guys or something, or if you’re sitting there going “what does that have to do with anything, you foolish girl?” and lamenting the poor judgement of the youth of today. But I thought you might like to know.

What you said about Maryke was – well, not exactly sweet, but very Maryke. I think she would have liked it. (I admire how articulate you are at the moment. In the face of emotion of any sort it would appear I lose all ability to construct so much as a sentence. This comment is, once again, terrible.)
normandie_m From: normandie_m Date: May 13th, 2007 10:23 am (UTC) (Link)
Ashley gave the journal to us tonight. I'm going to go and look at it for myself in a few minutes.

I appreciate you telling me about what Maryke had written though, and I appreciate you and all Maryke's friends coming to our house to comfort dad. I know that it's very difficult to convey everything right now, but I know what you're saying and all that.
vikingcarrot From: vikingcarrot Date: May 13th, 2007 06:42 am (UTC) (Link)
I must admit I was curious as to what her suicide note said - as they come in so many different forms.

I'm glad you chose to tell us about your sister. She sounded exactly the way I was picturing her in my head since you broke the news - quiet in her unhappiness... the person that shocks everyone at the end by never having hinted that she would do such a thing.

I'm still so sorry for your loss. And you show remarkable courage in already being willing to accept Maryke's decision the best you can and to resolve to keep moving, as she would have wanted.

I know I don't have much right to post, as you'll discover if you read my recent postings, but I do feel for you, as I've seen both sides of this. I'm the attempter of suicide as well as the family/friend of victims... and it's so hard.

*big hugs*
normandie_m From: normandie_m Date: May 13th, 2007 10:17 am (UTC) (Link)
Thanks. I've never had the struggle with the feelings that you or my sister have experienced. I read your post the other night and felt some relief that you're still here. I appreciate the insight that you offered with your own experiences, how it feels.

The funny thing is, sometimes, when I'm sitting having afternoon tea before my lecture on Thursday afternoon, I see you nearby on the grass near the lakes, doing assignments or similar. I've always wanted to come over and introduce myself, but I didn't know if you'd want company or anything. So I'm wondering- if I see you down there at all- would you mind at all if I came and said hello?
vikingcarrot From: vikingcarrot Date: May 13th, 2007 10:53 am (UTC) (Link)
You're in a good place to not have experienced those feelings. It's a hopeless place to be. I felt quite chilled to read your post, knowing what I'd done on the same night - it was very sobering, even if my attempt was based entirely on spur-of-the-moment mental shutdown and panic, where, from what you've said, your sister might have been contemplating it for some time. It's so hard when people lock everything away and never let anyone know how bad their situation is.

You see me down at the lakes, wow. On Thursdays... you must have seen me studying for German exams, which is why you must not see me more often. I only have the one class on Thursdays, at 5, so you must have seen me pretending to retain information in preparation.

But I would be thrilled if you came and said hello! I've always wanted to get to know you better, but I'm horribly shy and have always been too unconfident in myself and my personality to just bite the bullet and email with a "hey, want to meet up for coffee sometime...". Hence that I still friend you and take interest in what you're up to after so long, yet completely fail to actually try to befriend you. But yes. Please do. I'd be so happy. I can arrange to be there sometime even, if you'd like. :)
catdraco From: catdraco Date: May 13th, 2007 07:33 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh God, I'm so sorry. I'm sorriest that I missed your entry yesterday, so haven't known until right now.

I will pray for your sister. I will ask the intercession of St Eugene de Mazenod, who understood what it was to be on the fringes of life; and of our mother Mary, who knows all about loving and losing a child.

I have no words that can ease your sorrow at this time. I believe strongly in the love and mercy of our Lord, who could see into Maryke's heart even more clearly than she could. I am certain that He is salving her poor heart right now, and that she has found comfort.

I am so, so sorry. Please let me know if there's anything I can do to help. If you need someone to sing at her funeral, I would willingly step forward.
normandie_m From: normandie_m Date: May 13th, 2007 10:21 am (UTC) (Link)
The first place I thought of going was church. And I went there and prayed for Maryke, and then I talked to the priests there, Father Ken and Father Ian. And it was very, very good to talk to them. It was very calming to be in the church yesterday, and to think that while Maryke didn't believe in God, that He would be there for her regardless.

I'm afraid that we're keeping the funeral very low-key, since Maryke wouldn't have wanted a big occasion. But your invitation to sing means a lot to me, and I thank you for offering it.
catdraco From: catdraco Date: May 13th, 2007 10:28 am (UTC) (Link)
I understand. Funerals are very personal things. You do them in the way that's right for the person in question.

I'm glad you got some comfort from Frs. Ken and Ian. I don't think I know Fr. Ian, but I do know Fr. Ken and I'm glad you got to talk to him.

The thing about God is that he doesn't pick and choose the way we do. I am sure that He's got her safely right now. And I hope He will comfort you, too, in time.
From: lillibetpip Date: May 13th, 2007 11:30 pm (UTC) (Link)
Hey Steph,
If you are going in on Thursday let me know, yeah? I know nothing makes any of this any easier, but if I can do anything to help -- even if it's just moral support at uni. Talk to you soon, Lib.
jessamy104 From: jessamy104 Date: May 14th, 2007 01:12 am (UTC) (Link)
I don't think you have to worry about things getting around quickly. I find I don't know what to say. I havn't been able to share your loss with anyone from school- would you like me to let people know?

my sister is close to marayke's friends and i think it was charlotte who called her- I don't think she's told anyone outside that group.

my mother went to church on Sunday (for the first time in 5 years) to pray for marayke.

I admire your strength in what have been the worst day of your life. I was wondering yesterday if you were going to come to the reunion- it's a big ask to have to explain things to everyone- but perhaps it will offer some catharsis.

my thoughts are with you

normandie_m From: normandie_m Date: May 14th, 2007 03:59 am (UTC) (Link)
If you could get in touch with the girls in our class, that would be great. I can't thank you enough for offering to do that. And your mother's prayers are of great comfort too, so thank her for them from me.

Something I did find out yesterday was that it was Stuartholme rowers or coaches (I can't remember which) that found Maryke in the river. When I rang the school this morning to tell them I was coming, Mrs Brinnand said that word had gotten around the school to some extent, and that Mrs Sinclair was going to address the staff at morning tea. I'm going to the school in about an hour from now, so I'll see for myself.
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