She was pretty and smart, kind, soft-spoken and always smiling. Everyone liked her.
After she killed herself, jumping off the building near her house, we, her classmates from high school, gathered at the entrance to the building. We all looked up, where she stood by herself a few days before, and wandered in our own thoughts.
Why she killed herself was speculated – from the break-up with her boyfriend to the ambiguous future. No one, however, seemed to know for sure. If someone did, they didn’t divulge. It didn’t matter anymore, anyway.
I hadn’t seen her since we graduated, but others had just seen her at the ceremony held by the municipal celebrating us turning twenty, adults. They mentioned how beautiful and happy she had looked in her newly tailored kimono.
Though I had a special day off from work, I had not attended the event. Later, the pamphlet of “How to be an adult” was sent to me in the mail. How ironic, I remember thinking. Wasn’t I already surviving in the adult world while my friends, college students, enjoyed their moratorium period?
I want to believe that I am a decent person and want to be thought that I am a good person. Yet, I often keep myself busy feeling sorry for myself.
Is happiness rationed? Do I need to grab as much as I can when I can? Can it be so elusive that I miss? Does happiness only exist in memories?
I can’t expect myself to be perfect. If I ask too much of myself, I remain empty. I want to fill with the good, but the bad also belong to me.
So, when someone asks if I am happy, I reply, “Of course.” With the unspoken, “Happy is as happy does.”
It has been thirty years since we lost her. The old structure, which once was the monument for us, has been demolished. They built a high-rise building over.
The time when she was happy, however, is etched in my memory, along with the image of her deflated parents at the funeral. I hope they have had many happy moments since.