Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Her Name Was Lauren Tank.

I just found out today that my dear friend, Lauren Tank, took her own life sometime on Monday.

I didn't know Lauren very long, but as soon as we met I wished we had. We officially first met only a few months ago at work when she recognized me in the elevator as someone who had gone to the same grade/middle school with her, albeit a year apart. It was at the end of the day on our way home, so I didn't get to really respond to her until the next day.

I sent her a message in the work chat system, and right off the bat it was easy to see that she and I had a lot in common, and that she was quite an infectiously delightful person. It also became apparent that, if a friendship were to develop, it would soon be strained by the effects of long distance.

Here is a transcript of the start of that conversation:

December 14, 2016
Matejka, Ryan [8:24 AM]:
Hey! It’s me from the elevator yesterday with the shared dark past.
Tank, Lauren [8:25 AM]:
Haha! Hello! How are you?
Matejka, Ryan [8:25 AM]:
interestingly, Matt in sales(?) was also from StMM
I had to figure out your name using LinkedIn by the way, so you’ve got a request from me there now. I’m doing pretty good though, how about yourself?
Tank, Lauren [8:26 AM]:
I’m pretty fantastic, actually! I’m actually moving to southern California in like three weeks. Sad, though, because I love working here at HBI, but awesome because it’s like 65 degrees over there right now
I guess it sounds like HBI is full of people I knew from different chapters of my life. Elizabeth was in my sorority pledge class in college, you’re here, Matt (who I don’t think I’ve ever heard of) is here, no doubt somebody from my high school is here lurking somewhere
Matejka, Ryan [8:28 AM]:
ugh jealous. Long have I fantasized about moving out west to pursue a career in screenwriting and general awesomeness
I actually have some in-laws out there
Tank, Lauren [8:29 AM]:
You should consider up and doing it someday! Work on screenplays in your spare time over the years and when the time is right, just do it.
Or find any job out there and try to work on film-related things in your spare time

We talked about movies (especially Fight Club), television shows, and how Fall Out Boy's best album is obviously Folie à Deux, no matter what everyone else says! She shared "dank memes" and advice on how to "acquire The Sims 4 from some Swedish friends with a pirate ship, if you get my drift." In return, I filled up her USB stick with episodes of the HBO show Westworld, Chuck Palahniuk e-books, and music by pop-punk band Neck Deep.

Talking to Lauren was the easiest thing in the world. She held nothing back. She made you immediately at ease.

I joined her for lunch on her last day at work. She couldn't stop talking about how excited she was that she was certain her boyfriend was going to propose to her either on Christmas or New Year's Eve. I briefly contemplated asking for a selfie with her to mark the occasion, then shook the thought away because I assumed Lauren was "too cool" for that kind of sentimental bullshit.

We kept in touch after she moved, mostly sharing Rick and Morty memes. I kept asking her if she finally listened to "December [again]" by Neck Deep - a song I was certain she would love, but she would always apologize and say she'd get around to it later.

Today, I logged onto Facebook and was just about to ask her what was up when I scrolled through my wall to find a message from one of her friends wishing that she'd rest in peace. Frantically, I checked her profile page to see that it was full of more of the same messages from friends and loved ones.

I can't describe the feeling. I was in denial. I was sad. I was angry. Even more so I was confused, because not a single post referenced what had actually happened and I'd just spoken to her a few days ago.

I looked up what was the last thing she messaged me:

March 14, 2017
Lauren Tank
I have had it with these motherfucking snakes on this motherfucking plane
Ryan Matejka
*record scratch sound* so did you ever listen to the songs I sent you?
Lauren Tank
Fuuuck I'm a bad friend. I forgot.
Ryan Matejka
If it makes you feel better I only played a little bit of Sims 4
Lauren Tank
Oh it worked for you? Good!
Ryan Matejka
Yup, and now I've been downloading shit like crazy

Well, it wasn't anything special, but at least I didn't let her end it on "I'm a bad friend," because that just wasn't true.

At this point, I still didn't know exactly what happened to her, but an idea crept into my brain; "please let it be literally anything except suicide."

I'm not a religious man, so the idea of eternal hell wasn't what worried me about suicide so much as the thought of such a bright spot in my life (and likely so many others) spending her last moments in a hopeless misery. She deserved so much better than that.

I left the building and cried. I fell against a wall, buried my head in my hands, and just cried.

No matter what happened, this is a tragedy.

"Life is short, random, and meaningless," I thought to myself. "We'd all do well to remember that and make the best of every second."

I don't believe that Lauren is "in a better place" and I'll never fully understand the mentality behind taking one's own life unless it is to avoid absolutely certain pain and suffering, but I suppose that in Lauren's mind that's what her future held. Depression is a real bitch. It numbs you to your core and prevents you from seeing the possibility of a happy future despite all evidence to that effect. I don't believe that Lauren is "in a better place," but I take a very, very small amount of solace that her suffering is over and that her death was in her own hands and not someone else's. Of course, that still does nothing to diminish the fact that this is, no matter how you slice it, a tragedy.

I'll end on a modified quote that she loved from Fight Club and one of her favorite songs from Folie à Deux.

"In Project Mayhem, we have no names.
But in death, a member of Project Mayhem has a name.
Her name was Lauren Tank."

"That’s the thing about new music - the best tracks are often hidden in albums and much ignored. For example, nobody cares about the song Tiffany Blews off Folie a Deux but it’s suuuuch a great song"
- Lauren Tank

May she rest in peace.

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