Zobird H Is My Friend
I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to be a friend. As some of you may know, I didn’t discover the definition of “friends” in the same settings that a lot of people my age might have. I can say with exact certainty that high school did not teach me the meaning and importance of friendship like some people might be able to say. But I did obtain a better understanding of friendship in those mental hospitals and programs that I keep talking about in my other posts.
I met some of the strongest, most resilient, and overall the most caring people on my road to recovery in hospitals and treatment centers. When you are admitted into an inpatient hospital or a residential program, naturally you have roommates. I really lucked out in that department. I may not remember the names of everyone I shared a room with; it’s hard to remember roommates from January 2013 to October 2015. But I can say that they all mean a lot to me and as I remember their names at spontaneous times to this day, I am flooded with wonderful memories made with each of them. They were there to help me, hug me and give me a different perspective on things when I was upset. They were literally there to listen to me at two in the morning and have deep conversations about our outlooks on love and the most hard to describe crevices of life.
I find myself thinking about one roommate in particular just about every day, and today is no different. To respect the privacy of her and her family, I’ll call her by the nickname I gave her, Zobird. She was my roommate during my third time in an adolescent mental hospital. During that stay, I was a patient for six weeks. That means that for six weeks, I got the privilege and honor to sleep in the same room as this legend. The ukulele enthusiast, the artist, the dreamer. The musician, the singer, the friend. That is how I would describe Zobird, the most life changing roommate that graced my life in June 2013.
I can remember very clearly some of the memories that we made. The friendship we created was unlike any other. I’ve never met someone with such a similar yet different personality to my own. Similar because we both loved belting out songs as we walked through the hallways, different because she could sing and I could not. Similar because we were both so sad, different because we weren’t both always sad at the same time, therefore enabling us to cheer one another up as needed. Similar because we both shared nothing but kindness, compassion and smiles to everyone around us. And the worst difference between us is that she became an angel before her time came, and I am alive to tell the story. In January 2014, Zobird H took her life.
I can’t explain why this happened to her, but it did and that absolutely sucks. To this day as I still think about what happened and it makes me feel all of the emotions that everyone hates; sadness and confusion to name a few, and the most prominent one being loneliness. But then I take a step away from myself and realize that I was just her roommate; if I feel this bad even almost two years after the tragic ending, how do her family and other friends feel at this exact moment? Then I take another step away even further from myself and realize; if this is how it feels to lose someone like this, imagine all the pain and suffering she must have endured the minutes, days, months, even years leading up to that very moment.
When I found out about Zobird’s sudden ending, I was in that same hospital for the fourth time in January 2014. I’ll never forget sitting down with my doctor and hearing what had happened, it broke my heart into pieces. As I walked up and down those same halls that we had filled with our singing voices a few months prior, I couldn’t stop crying. I couldn’t stop being sad and I couldn’t stop thinking, which could have led to dangerous circumstances for myself. But the worst part was passing by the room that we had shared for six weeks. That room with three beds and a beanbag chair. That room that we slept in, occupying the first two beds for a month and a half. That room, that room, that room.
I paint myself a mental picture in my head as I describe it right now and recall fondly of all the great times that we had in that space during our time at the hospital. The first one that comes to mind would have to be our routine every night and every morning. Zobird was my night owl and I was her morning friend, and these roles never changed in those six weeks. She could stay up all hours of the night if the staff let her. So Zobird would sing songs to me, and as I was serenaded by her voice and the beautiful strumming of her ukulele, I felt something inside of me that I had never felt in the past. The feeling of a full heart is the only way I can think of describing it. I felt like I had a friend with me at all times because in the morning, I would gently awaken this friend of mine, per her request, just in time to get donuts at the cafe.
That was one of my favorite memories of Zobird, but there is one moment that I think of whenever I feel especially sad, and it will forever be etched into my mind and replayed in my heart. Another one of my friends from the hospital, let’s call her A, was having a serious reaction to her new medications, which resulted in shaking and dizziness among other symptoms. As this reaction was unexpected for everyone on the unit, the staff were quickly responsive and extremely cautious in treating our friend A. They told us to all go into our bedrooms until they told us otherwise. As everyone swarmed into their rooms, I found just myself and Zobird standing at the doorway to see our friend A shivering in her bed and as she cried, I began crying with the feeling of guilt for not being able to help A. Zobird was also saddened and scared, but despite the staff’s instructions, she walked right into A’s room, rubbed her back and whispered “You’ll be okay”. Then Zobird and I walked back to our room.
It was maybe ten steps and three words that made all the difference in A’s life and in my life as well. In that moment, I understood that whispers speak volumes and silence is golden. Zobird knew exactly what to say or not say and at what times without being in an immediate state of panic that I was in. While there was still fear of the uncertain in all of our minds, it was Zobird that bended the rules for only a minute to give words of encouragement, to provide reassurance to A, but most of all, to comfort a friend.
This moment, in addition to many others, just proves what kind of a person and spirit Zobird is and was. She gave out all the love, compassion and hope she had to everyone around her. However in my opinion, she didn’t leave enough for herself. And the awful truth of the matter is that I will never physically see the body of Zobird ever again. I will never be able to synchronize my laughter to hers again and I will never be able to hug her or text her with an instant response, but don’t you worry reader, I still see her. I still see those envelopes of hope with labels such as, “When you feel sad…” or “When you feel lonely…” with a piece of encouragement inside each one. I still listen to that song she played for me on her ukulele and although it used to make me cry, it now makes me smile. I see her in all of the sunrises and sunsets that I am blessed with, and in knowing her, I realize daily that I am more blessed than I know. I still see her. I still see my Zobird every day.