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Kelly M. Coffey

In December 2015, days before I was to start vacation for the holiday season, I touched base with one of my closest friends who was living in Southern Utah (and I in NYC). I wrote to her, saying we had to plan a phone date to catch up. Three weeks later, shortly after the new year, I learned from her brother she had died. I was shocked, thought it was a skiing accident or car crash, but she had committed suicide. I grew weak, stood at the kitchen table trying to wrap my head around what I was hearing; it didn’t make sense. Ann Marie was the most vivacious person I’d ever met. She traveled; she partied; she worked…she wouldn’t take her life; there was so much to live for! Tragically, she had shot herself in the woods. It took her friends and family days to find the body. It’s been almost three years and most days are easy now, but every time I hit a milestone in my life, I hear her voice. Ann Marie was my cheerleader in life. She had my back and kept telling me to live, not work so much. I didn’t call her that night because “I was too busy”. My life unraveled a little that year because in addition to Ann Marie, nine others died in the span of seven months. It has taken me time to rebuild. I went to creative arts therapy and started to pursue my photography as a little more than just a hobby. I’m currently pushing and working to find commercial success so I can do what I love and love what I do. Her death gave me the license to live and not get stuck in the daily grind. Her death allows me to see the colors a little brighter and feel that breeze on my face. I make choices in living a meaningful life. No longer am I “too busy” to ever pick up the phone and reach out to the people I love. I went to the beach and sat in the lifeguard’s chair to watch the sunset. I always miss Ann Marie. I always wish she was here to tell me she’s proud of me, but since her love can no longer come to me in a form I’m used to, I will accept her presence in these fleeting moments. There’s something magical about hearing her laugh as the sun goes down.

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