Six years ago, my friend took her own life. She was 18. She’d struggled with depression and suicide attempts since she was 9. Just a child. I built the Strawberry Cottage (pictures below) for her.
It’s still missing some important pieces, but it has some of the things she loved in it. I need to put shingles on the roof still too. I just hate doing shingles. But I promise to do it eventually!
We always said we’d be neighbors someday, so the Strawberry Cottage is next to the Lavender House, which is my house. Lavender is my favorite color, and I was often told that I looked like a “deer in headlights” as a kid, so the Deer family lives in my house. I wanted to accept the child I was in order to move forward and become the adult I am now.
Red pandas were our favorite animal, and after reading The Golden Compass series by Phillip Pullman, we agreed that our daemons would be red pandas. Thus, the red panda Calico Critter family is who lives in the Strawberry Cottage. I love the dresses that the mom and daughter wear.
The daughter’s bedroom is filled with the things my friend loved. Her favorite movies, albums, and books are on the bookshelf. The room and home are strawberry-themed because we loved strawberries. We also loved regular, grocery store mushrooms (not the hallucinogenic kind!!), hence, Mushroom Meadow. I miss going to Target with her and buying a thing of mushrooms to eat. I also miss her singing Lady Marmalade and Zydrate Anatomy. I miss everything about her.
I miss her, and I wish she were here to see her house. I wish she could meet my dogs and my husband. I know she would love them. The dining room is pictured below. Sometimes I leave a cheesecake on the buffet because that was one of our favorite desserts.
We were avid readers, so the living room has lots of books. It needs more furniture, but I haven’t decided what else to add.
The Red Pandas throw a lot of tea parties because we wanted to have a tea party together at a fancy restaurant someday.
We were both competitive ice skaters as kids, so Ivy Red Panda and Emma Deer go ice skating at Cate’s Ice Rink often as well.
Suicide prevention is not just checking on your friends. It’s access to healthcare and mental healthcare, making a livable wage, resources for victims of domestic violence, decriminalization of addiction, housing the homeless, education about mental health, LGBTQ+ acceptance, support for veterans, and believing and allowing people to share their struggles without judgment. Suicide is a leading cause of death in the United States. It’s the second leading cause of death for people between the ages of 10 and 34. Men over the age of 65 have the highest risk of suicide.
I miss my friend every single day.
If you are in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention hotline: 1-800-273-8255.