It Could Have Been Me

When I arrived home from a hellish family vacation I had this eloquent message on my answering machine: “Hope y’all had a good trip. It’s been really rainy here. By the way, Michelle’s dead.”

It was from my friend Susan.

Michelle was a friend of ours from high school and college.

We were all pretty good pals during our senior year. We did the usual small town activities – drank Boone’s farm, sneaked cigarettes in the girls’ bathroom, skipped school, and chased boys.

Eventually Michelle, Susan, and I ended up at the same college and the shenanigans continued. And escalated.

Michelle and I were friends but I wouldn’t say that we were exceptionally close.

She wasn’t the type to share her innermost angst or anxieties as she was mainly preoccupied with looking cute and being in love. Now we were all boy crazy but Michelle HAD to have a boyfriend all the time.

One night in college the girls were all sitting around playing cards and gabbing. But Michelle couldn’t just hang out with her pals. She went door to door in my apartment complex looking for available peen.

When that didn’t pan out she called her favorite bar looking for some pre-Jersey Shore Guido type. She got him on the phone and arranged for booty call delivery.

Another time Michelle crawled through my neighbor’s window and hopped right in his bed. I could go on…

Anyway, the point isn’t that she was promiscuous because Lord knows we all had our college moments {or years}. She just didn’t like to be alone. She always had to have a man around and was constantly conforming to their likes and interests.

Michelle went from being a pseudo Harley Honey to urban cowgirl {complete with line dancing lessons} to prepster/sorority girl. Whatever the guy wanted she was IT.

After college graduation I moved away to be with The TO. Michelle and I did not keep in contact.

I became very busy with my life as a new mom and all the joys of undiagnosed postpartum depression and an absentee husband. Michelle wasn’t really on my radar till I received the phone call from Susan.

Apparently, Michelle’s latest boyfriend was abusive and controlling. Her parents had tried to get her away from him but she wouldn’t listen and kept going back.

The boyfriend beat her to death and threw her body over a hillside. Then he killed himself.

Michelle’s body wasn’t found for a few days. She was unrecognizable and dental records had to be used for a positive identification.

Michelle has been dead for 10 years and I still think of her all the time.

In my head I know there isn’t anything I could have done to prevent her death.

Yet, I also know that I never took her aside and said, “Be yourself. You’re better than all this.”

Heck, at the time I didn’t even know that *I* was better than all that.

Maybe what bothers me {other than the utter horribleness of her death} is the disquieting thought that it could have happened to me…