Last weekend was the 26th anniversary of my close friend’s suicide. I don’t often use that word. Honestly, I just don’t think that I care for the way it sounds in the same way that I don’t care for the sound of the words "moist" or "penis". Some anniversaries have been emotionally charged; others, I’ve quietly acknowledged. This year, I mostly connected with friends online. On Facebook, I made a post; I emailed with his mother; I messaged with the friends whom I call “the survivors”. I also came across two pictures that were tucked in a book. One is from a summer camp at some university (JMU maybe?) where I met up with a friend (who was a prom date but only so that my friend who dated him would be jealous and want to date him again-- teen logic Oy!); in the other picture, I am headless :p I'm still posting it because the picture is precious. That's my jacket and that arm beside me was my best friend's. There's also a random girl in the back because this was taken in the lunchroom in high school.
Last week it seemed like there were numerous posts on social media about suicide and why we shouldn’t think of it as a selfish act. Each time I read the posts, I rolled my eyes. I roll my eyes as so much in life. This time it was because I was hurting. Posts such as those are sitting there for someone to click Like or Share. They discount the emotions of the survivors… I’m explicitly focusing on those of us who were too young to really grasp how someone else’s actions were going to change us.
In last week’s email, my friend’s mother wrote, “I remember you being so little.” Um yeah, I was 15 years old when her son shot himself. Even without time-stamps on the back of pictures, I can tell when the pictures were taken for the most part. I didn't start dying my hair until college (because my parents didn't allow it!) so all of these pictures are from my high school days with the exception of the one with Sugaplum, the meanest ferret who ever lived. She thought I looked young... in these pictures, I look like a baby! But this is what I looked like when Shawn shot himself.
Lately I haven’t been in the mood to mess with euphemisms or wax poetic. I’m from a long line of mentally/chemically-off people. On my mother’s side of the family, there were three male grandsons including my brother and two cousins. Both male cousins shot themselves; one was successful (somehow that doesn’t read so nicely) in killing himself. To my knowledge, my brother has never tried to off himself from but it’s in there… the depression, the self-esteem struggles. But maybe he’ll be okay because his best friend died just three months before mine. My friend even held my hand at my brother’s friend’s funerals. This reads awkwardly; I don’t feel like making this a memorial for their memories. I’ve written about that before. This week, I continue to think of us, the survivors. Had this not happened, would we have learned to love as deeply at such young ages? Would we have truly grasped the value of time, or what it means to say "I love you" to a friend and mean it? It was an anniversary of a pivot point, a day to don our socks out of tradition, and a time to cry for all the teens who have lost their young friends.
Then this week starts off with David Bowie dying. Somehow I’m a little mad at him too. The week has been filled with hectic work noise when all I’ve wanted is quiet contemplation. So I’ve looked through old pictures as a way not to remember the dead but to remember the girl (little me) who had no idea what was coming.
Okay, I'll be honest; I'm posting this last picture with my friend Glen because I'm obsessed with how fabulous my ass looked back then. This would have been 1993-ish. I was in college and here I was working at my summer job. Those were the years that I worked at a theme park operating roller coasters-- long hours, not much sleep, very little to eat because it was hot outside!
I suppose I should conclude this post somehow. This isn't a sad post; I survived. We've all survived somehow. Even those who have died live on through us but today my thoughts are with my dead; they're with little Me.