On a sunny April day, 17(!) years ago, I stood along with 28 other young collegiate women and was presented on campus as one of the newest members of my sorority. We thought we were so fly in our jean shorts, K-Swiss tennis, and red and white baseball jerseys. You thought that Beyonce ran the world, well let’s just say she was 17 years too late!
That year, the women who crossed us over the burning sand, didn’t pick very many graduating seniors for my line. But they did pick one outstanding, vivacious young lady named D. D was well known and liked on campus, a budding journalist and future lawyer. I had the opportunity to get to know her because we were both on the Campus All-Star Challenge Team (kind of like a Quiz Bowl for HBCUs). So when I found out she was going to become my line sister and soror, we squealed in delight, like young college girls tend to do.
D’s time on campus as a soror was all too brief. We crossed in April, she graduated that May. She left to go back to the East Coast in a whirlwind, planning to tackle law school in DC. We lost touch. My line is unusually close, so it was rather odd to us at first, but things like that happen. Sometimes people leave the remnants of college life in their rear view mirrors, along with their line sisters.
10 years passed so quickly. Careers, marriages, babies, divorces. We kept in touch through Yahoogroups and emails and phone calls and the occasional get together. We reunited at homecoming to celebrate a decade of crimson and cream fabulousness. But still no D.
Another 5 years fly by. We come together again, at homecoming, in black bedazzled t-shirts to cherish 15 years of sisterhood. We have found D at this point and we continue to connect with her through cyberspace. We are happy. A lost sheep is back in the fold. Another line sister who lives in the DC area promises to keep up with D and keep the rest of us updated. We don’t want to lose her again.
It is around this time that D’s emails to us become long, bizarre and erratic. She mentions needing money and potentially being homeless. We dispatch our DC based soror to find out what is going on. She connects with D.
D is bipolar. Has been for years. She’s off her meds. She needs our help. She is our sister. We took the Oath together. We band together to send money. We scour the internet for resources to assist her in the DC area. We contact her family. They know she is ill, but because she is an adult, they can’t force her to come home to NC.
Reconnecting with us, seems to help D. She emails us for birthdays, joins Facebook, is working a steady job at a big box store, has a place to live, even a boyfriend.
But then in the last few weeks of this year, the emails start back up. Long, rambling, erratic. Just like last time.
D is off her meds again. But there was a trigger. Her long time therapist took her own life as well as the life of her son. Thus begins the downward spiral for D. She gets fired, her boyfriend kicks her out, and she is couch surfing once again. She refuses treatment for her illness. Her father advises again giving her more money this time because she doesn’t make the best decisions when she is sick and has placed herself and others in dangerous situations. He says the best way to help is to convince her to go to the doctor and take her meds. I suspect her family is hoping she will hit rock bottom so they can legally step in and take her home to North Carolina.
My line sisters and I have decided to send a small amount of money to her for essentials. Seems like the only other thing we can do is pray.
It’s hard for me to envision D like this. Her illness is like a fog that surrounds her brain.
Much like a bright light that flickers…..right before it goes dark.