Because She Wanted To Live

I’ve felt a lot of emotions over the past two weeks, but today was the icing on the cake. At 5:00am this morning, my phone started vibrating. I quickly glanced to make sure it wasn’t one of my family members or close friends calling, and then I rolled over and went back to sleep.

When my alarm went off at 7:30, I texted the person who had called because it was one of Emily’s friends. She replied that she was in the hospital and said she needed me to come “pronto.” Although it was early and the hospital is the last place I want to even drive past let alone go into, I decided to do it because this person made it sound urgent and I knew if Emily were still here, she’d have gone.

Within five minutes of being there, I regretted my decision. There was nothing urgent about the situation. It was the same crap I’ve witnessed this person do over the years — they let themselves get so deep into their anorexia that they need acute medical care, then after a day or two they decide they’ve “had enough” and “hate it” so they try to leave AMA.

As I stood there and watched them refuse medications that I knew were likely for heart failure and other complications related to severe malnutrition, my blood boiled. I knew if I stayed any longer, it would not be pretty, so I told them I couldn’t stay and left.

Although I felt a twinge of guilt for walking out on someone who was clearly unwell, I also found myself in this state of anger, sadness, and disbelief — and it’s all because of how much I love Emily.

I’m No Stranger To Anorexia

I’ve never been diagnosed with anorexia, nor have I personally been to treatment for it. However, I did watch Emily go through multiple stints of treatment, and I have other friends who have gone through treatment and recovery as well. So, I know that it’s an illness and I know it’s a bitch to work through.

But, you know what? I watched Emily do it. And it was fucking incredible.

The last time Emily went through IOP at Renfrew was in 2020. During that time, I attended two of their “family sessions” as a support person in her recovery. She also came over for dinner frequently (at least once a week), and even sometimes when we couldn’t physically eat together, we would either Zoom or talk on the phone.

And, I didn’t force any of that. She asked for me to support her because she knew the accountability helped. She told me she wanted recovery, and she did everything possible to make that happen.

Now, that’s not to say that she didn’t struggle (she did). She also wasn’t perfect at being recovered (none of us are). But, I can honestly say that the Emily I proposed to had a very different relationship with her body and food than the Emily I met in 2018. And it’s all because Emily knew anorexia would slowly kill her, and she very much wanted to live.

Emily’s Reasons to Live

I know I’ve said this before, but one of my favorite things about Emily was her strength and resilience. It was absolutely inspiring, and a huge motivator in my own growth journey. But, there were definitely days where she struggled to maintain that resilience and find strength within herself.

I don’t remember exactly when we talked about it, but I know that Emily once shared with me a list of motivators for her. They were her reasons to recover and keep going. Some of them, like her nieces, were predictable and huge sources of motivation. Others, like eating my mom’s “Texas Caviar” were a bit silly, but also helpful. And, of course, some of them weren’t the present but the future she hoped for, like items from her bucket list or getting her LCSW.

Regardless, everything on that list motivated her to keep going on the hard days, and it was helpful to have those reminders available when she needed them.

I’ll Never Understand

As I stepped out of St. Thomas Rutherford this morning, I started crying. And it wasn’t just a tear or two — it was full-on ugly crying. With each step I took toward the car, the same question played in my head over and over again:

Why do people like Emily, who desperately want to live and fight tooth and nail for it, have to die while people like her friend I visited this morning get to take their lives for granted yet receive more second chances than I can count?

And it’s not just Emily: We live in a world where children are shot in schools and members of the LGBTQ+ community are encouraged to take their lives, yet rapists and murderers are allowed to roam freely with little more than a slap on the wrist. I can’t understand it, and I definitely don’t like it. It frustrates and pains me, yet I wear myself out trying to change the narrative only for it to remain the same.

Yes, I feel selfish for feeling this way, but damn it, Emily deserved every bit of the future we planned and more. And, as much as I want to make my life a legacy that keeps Emily’s spirit alive and makes her proud, I just can’t continue to put energy into a person who refuses to even make an effort to fight for recovery and life. It’s too painful, especially when I know Emily would have done just about anything to still be here today.


One response to “Because She Wanted To Live”

  1. […] as my friend pointed out tonight (and I mentioned before in another post), Emily was a prime example of what it looks like to fight for your […]


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