Thursday, December 6, 2012

Gretchen, my dear friend, is gone.

I knew something wasn't right when forty-eight hours had passed and there was still no reply from Gretchen to the last e-mail I sent her.

In my last e-mail, written on Saturday, I told her how proud I was of her and how pretty I thought she looked in the just-published Tampa Bay Times online article and video, which she so bravely agreed to be in to share her story of suffering with Persistent Genital Arousal Disorder (PGAD) for the past sixteen years. It was right after I watched the video I wrote her, "I can't tell you how moving it was for me to be able to see and hear you! I felt like we were in the same room, and I just wanted to hug you so badly and cry with you."

That was Saturday, and by Monday night I was worried and praying, "Lord, please be with Gretchen. This isn't like her to not write me back after two days." My gut twisted up as I wondered if she had been Baker-Acted again. Can the Florida police arrest her for admitting in the interview to three recent suicide attempts? "Oh Lord," I moaned, "If the police took her, please please give her your peace in her heart, her mind and especially her body."

Tuesday, when I checked my e-mail, I hoped to see "from Gretchen" in my inbox. There wasn't an e-mail from her, but there was an e-mail with the subject line "Gretchen" from the leader of the PGAD Support Group. My breath caught in my throat when I opened the e-mail and it began, "It is with a heavy heart..." with a link to a
new article in the Tampa Bay Times.

Gretchen was gone.

Her last attempt at suicide was completed. She didn't write me an e-mail beforehand to say goodbye like she had done several times over the past year, and I was unable to write her back or call her, to tell her not to do it, to tell her that she is my dear friend and I love her, that God loves her, to just hang in there because God is going to make a way for her suffering to be reduced. I couldn't tell her again how Jeremy and I are willing to help in any way we can, to remind her that we would pay for her to come up to our home so she could see my doctor who specializes in pudendal nerve damage.

No. All such chances were gone, because Gretchen was gone.

After crying to Jeremy and then my Mom, I called a woman who Gretchen said was like an aunt to her, and lives just down the street from Gretchen's house. Gretchen had given me her "aunt's" phone number months ago in one of her goodbye e-mails to me, asking that I contact her to tell her Gretchen was dead. After reading that e-mail I didn't call Gretchen's aunt, I called Gretchen. Her phone rang and rang, but she did not pick up her phone. I left a message, hung up and then called her aunt, asking if she'd please go check on Gretchen to see if she was okay. Gretchen was okay that time. The sleeping aid she took made her fall into a deep sleep before she could go through with anything.

This call to Gretchen's aunt was different, and too late. Her aunt told me that this time she found Gretchen dead inside her home, and she had been dead for two days. Two entire days passed before anyone missed Gretchen. My heart shattered. No wonder Gretchen always told me how alone she felt, how she had little friends or family to love and support her.

Gretchen's aunt then explained that Gretchen died with no money, not even a cent to put towards her being cremated, to have a memorial, or to ship her remains to Wisconsin to be buried next to her parents on their family plot. She said she was hoping the county would be able to pay for Gretchen's cremation, because she herself has no money to help.

I knew then what I wanted to do. After I hung up the phone, I got online again and created a fundraiser, titled "Memorial Fundraiser for Gretchen". Thinking along the same lines, the leader of the PGAD Support Group had her daughter create an event on Facebook event
for Gretchen, and used the link to the fundraiser.

I am hoping this will honor Gretchen. I miss her terribly and keep finding myself looking for an e-mail from her in my inbox. My only comfort is knowing she is no longer being tormented by the PGAD "beast" as she called it, and that she no longer feels alone, having reunited with her parents,
and lovingly held in the arms of God.

If you would like to donate, please go here:
Memorial for Gretchen