I never expected Lori Dahm to kill herself. Then again, I guess we don't really expect anyone to kill themselves.
But, Lori Dahm may have been the most unlikely candidate.
She was so strong, so together. She had this amazing writing job that she excelled at. She was one of the few people of my friends that actually owned their own place to live—in San Francisco, no less. Everyone loved her. Everyone looked up to her. She was a role model to many.
She ran this giant theme camp at Burning Man—that's where I met her. She was tough and wore leather work gloves and carried power tools. She threw a sledge hammer around like she invented the thing. Tough girl in charge with tools: talk about hot. But, this wasn't news to anyone. Gay or straight, man or woman—it seemed like nobody was immune to her magnetism.
And she was beautiful to behold. It was her eyes. It was impossible to look into her eyes and not fall in love with her. They made everyone who gazed at them feel like the center of the universe for those moments.
The funny thing was that she made everyone feel that way. But, nobody seemed to be disappointed by this. More than anything it was some sort of proof that she really was that amazing to that many people.
It wasn't her eyes telling us that we were special. It was that she was the special one.
I was stunned when Dave Marr called me and told me she jumped off the Golden Gate bridge.
Of course it's easy to ask why would anyone want to end their life. But, with her it was so much harder, since she was such an amazing person with a legion of followers and a life to envy.
There was always some sadness behind her eyes, a tip of the iceberg of what must have filled her. But, maybe it's just me scouring my memories of our time together for answers. I want to understand and make sense of it all, but I just don't know how to.
I keep replaying all our times together in my mind. Long talks, flirtation, seduction, laughing, walking, planning, crying. She was going to let me use her loft to have a benefit concert to raise money for my Just Go Out With Me video project. She came to my birthday party and was embarrassed about the present she got me. She made me promise not to open it until after she left.
In some ways, I think I do understand why she did it. I've been hating many parts of my life for a long time now. I've felt helpless and confused. I think I've been trying to kill myself slowly with drugs for the last few years—and I've moved forward with a slow, social suicide by withdrawing and disappearing from friends and loved ones.
Losing Lori has put so much in perspective.
In the first days after I heard about her death I found myself comparing her life with the way my friend Adam eats food. If there's food on your plate and you don't look like you're going to eat hit, Adam will always ask, "Are you going to eat that?" If not, he would devour it—every last crumb. Why waste food, right? I guess that's how I was thinking about her life. If she didn't want it and couldn't see a use for it, I wish that she would've at least given someone else the chance to use it.
Of course, it's easy to say this from the outside. Our dark thoughts are a slippery slope, and anyone can quickly become entrenched in a downward spiral of thought patterns—we get so deep that we forget that there are other options. It's been happening to me. I started to forget there were other options. But, this was a wake up.
How unfortunate that it took the loss of a person like this to remind me that the light isn't at the end of the tunnel: it's with us all along.
Her memorial was the way I thought it would be. People would tell stories about her life and how great she was. Everyone would cry. Everyone would look around and hope that the next person would explain why it all happened like this. And everyone would leave without any answers.
Lori's CD collection was spread out on a table. Everyone could pick through it and take some music. I took the first Boston album, the one with the space ship and the pictures of the band with giant afros. And, I took a Rickie Lee Jones album. There's a piece of white tape on the front of the jewel case. Her name is written on it in all caps: LORI.
It was actually originally the jewel case for an Ani DiFranco CD. But, I couldn't bear to own such a thing. So, I traded the jewel cases. What I really wanted was that little piece of tape: LORI. It was important for me to have something that was close to her in some way, and what is more honest than the way we write our own names on a CD cover or somewhere else that doesn't matter?
I feel sad about a world without Lori. I feel sad about a world where amazing people would rather die than live. But, I also feel like I've learned so much from this: There is hope. If we don't like our lives there's a way out: we can do something else.
I hope I get to have memorials for the rest of my friends while they're still alive to hear all the nice things I have to say about them.
PREVIOUS ENTRY - NEXT ENTRY