punkwalrus (punkwalrus) wrote,

Punkie's Earlier Years: "WJOK Junk: Side 2" - Tara Lily: 1969-1984

[ where Grig relives his youth via cassette tapes his best friend Neal saved from over 6 years of letters ]

Oh, wow... now talking about Tara Lily. My math partner. I was so frustrated that I couldn't express how dumb she was, but I gave it my best. I was so annoyed because here was this ditzy socialite in Algebra2/Trig class, a high-level honors class, and she never did work, hated math, and REALLY hated being paired with me. I can still remember her makeup, puffy 80s hair, Gucci clothing... God, I couldn't stand her. "What's a girl like this doing in a high level math class??" I asked in the tape.

God answered that for me. A few months after that entry, Tara got drunk while her parents were gone for the weekend, then drove her parent's new Cadillac and wrecked it. She lived, and she didn't even get hurt very bad. But she got so freaked out by the whole experience (her friend said Tara was babbling her parents were going to kill her), she took a whole bunch of pills, called a friend to say she was killing herself, and her friend rushed over... just in time to see Tara jump from the balcony of her condo (I think it was from the thenth floor). She hit another balcony on the way down, spun around in the air, and landed on the pavement in front of the condo complex. She died in the ambulance on the way to the hospital. Her friend, understandably distraught, told all her friends, and by Monday morning, everyone knew. The school had open counseling and everything for a week. The mother offered anyone from the school to come to the funeral (although, while I have no direct proof, I think a lot of kids took this as a free day).

It was a shock to the school, and I think our second suicide in two years. The first was a girl who slit her wrists in science class and died because no one had the sense to apply first aid and bled to death. The school did their best to cover that up, and since the girl who did it wasn't too popular (she was in the semi-Goth crowd, even I knew her only by name), that wasn't very hard. I knew one kid who was in that class, and he said she just exploded during some quiet work time, stood up, said, "Fuck McLean, fuck science, and fuck life!" and slit both her wrists (both? is that possible?) with a razor blade. The entire class freaked out, and backed into one corner of the classroom, and the teacher ran to get the principal. The class was then asked to go into an empty classroom while the paramedics worked on her. The story becomes cloudy if she was already dead, or died on the scene, or in the hospital. The big question asked for a while, especially by the school psychologist, was, "Why didn't anyone do anything? Put pressure on the wound, apply a tourniquet, anything?" I can kind of see that no one there had first aid training, and someone doing that WAS a shock. The school just made an announcement that everyone was going to stay in their classrooms over the intercom, and it took me days to find out what happened (I found out at my weekly gaming group).

And then my friend Copper (Lotus Rhee) was murdered a year before, too. Again, not very popular (VERY new-wave punk, skipped school a lot), and she didn't commit suicide, either. You could say her dangerous hitchhiking was to blame, along with her frequent drug intake, and other bad choices in life. But... I miss you, Copper. Deep down, you were such a sweetie and had a very good heart.

But when Tara died, EVERYONE knew her. She was not someone you'd think would do such a thing. Since then, I have always felt bad about hating Tara. They didn't give me a math partner after her, and that was kind of weird, being the only kid without a partner (I was told first it was to "allow for grief," then I was told, we have an odd number of students, and then finally, "Well, theres only two months of school left now..."). Mr. Hicks, the math teacher, who KNEW about my problems at home by then (he was used in a sting operation to get my father to talk to the school psychologists), was pretty gentle on me the rest of the year.

I have told people about Tara over the years, which leads to my advice about people who think suicide will make an impact. "You'll die, people may grieve, and then... they go on. Without you. You end up as an anecdote in someone's conversation years from now as they knew some kid who killed himself way back when... what's his name?" Suicide is not the answer, it's a lie that gets mislabeled as "the ultimate escape." I have learned from Tara's mistake that the ultimate escape is to just walk away and never return.

This entry was originally posted at http://www.punkwalrus.com/blog/archives/00000628.html
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