A True Story
A close friend, Michael is his name, died from ingesting too many pills at one time in 1991.
I was asked by his family, as his closest friend to say a few words. As he was Catholic, the priest wouldn't, as in his eyes and the eyes of the church, taking one's own life was considered a sin. This is roughly what I said.
It's good to see so many of you here. I'm sure Mike would have been not only pleased, but surprised to see so many people here to pay their respects.
We all know Mike was far from the perfect person. He tried, but he did do one thing right, and that was raise three daughters to be independant, and to never back down when right. Stand your ground, he would often say.
I've know Mike the better part of twenty years and never once did I not see him try to help someone if they needed help. The old give the shirt off his back, Mike. He would give money when he could to those in need and never look for that to come back to him.
We also know how much Mike liked his weed. I stopped by a friend's house one day and Mike was sitting in the middle of the living room, toking away and he had that glazed, kicked back happy look in his eyes. He had smoked at least half a dozen joints while I was there and to be honest, I thought I was getting a contact high.
I looked at him and said, You know something, Mike, you could own a marijuana field, acres and acres of the stuff and smoke all of it and then later say, wow! I could have been rich!
You know what he said?
He said, Yeah, but where I end up going one day I can't take it with me, so might as well enjoy it while I can.
And that's about the best takeaway I can give all of you. Enjoy what you have now. Mike did.
I won't swear to this, but if he's looking down at us, or, looking up, he's in a place he feels comfortable, and probably smoking his ass off right now.
But he left a piece of himself with all of us. He touched so many lives, never once asking for anythiung in return. If it came back to him, so be it. If it didn't, then it didn't.
Mike, the father, Mike, the friend, and Mike, if you are listening, damn you for leaving us the way you did, but you did so on your terms and for that I can't fault you.
But buddy, you will be missed.
** Photo is 35 years old
Absurdity In Mundane Bliss
Am I 'sposed to tell a story?
Words of courage? Heart of glory?
Seppuku for the Samurai,
Disemboweled with silent cry-
We in envy doth remain,
To write sweet dirges, toast your pain?
Nay dear soul, the fact is harsh:
You had no pain, no Ides of March;
You did it so that you could feel.
You went with drugs, no tanto steel.
And as you slipped, between recants
You rolled your eyes and shit your pants.
Leaving what small love was left
To fill in meaning, truth bereft.
I remember once upon a winter night, you and I. We snuck away from home, escaping to the sea. You always loved the sea.
You told me, that night, that the sea was your freedom. Your liberty, your escape. I asked you what you meant, but you only smiled into your bottle of lemonade. I let it be. I should have demanded an answer. I could have helped you.
Why didn’t you tell me then?
The sea was- no, is still your favourite. I wonder if you would have said the same in a few years as we grew up.
You were running along the shore, barefoot, with pants rolled up and light laughter fading into the night as you sprinted further away.
I ran after you. I tried to catch up, but I was always one step behind, watching your footprints be wiped away by the rising tide, the water lapping at your heels.
You kept running. Eventually, I ran out of energy. I forfeited the chase, but you kept going like you would die if you ever stopped. I asked you to stop and when you turned around for a brief moment, I saw the faint tear lines reflect in the moonlight and the look of pure terror on your face.
I shut up. I let you go.
What were you running from, Alec? Was it me? Was it stress? Work? Love, or life itself? Were you sad? Were you afraid? Why did you keep running?
Since you’ve been gone, people act odd around me. They look at me as if I was going to implode. They treat me like a fragile porcelain doll, whereas they used to give me hell for loving you the way I did. And now you’re gone, now you’ve traded in your life for this awkward, thick silence I condemn the world for.
You may have found your peace, but I will never know what you were running from that night.
I am no public speaker. This is no speech. The right words only find me when I have a pen in hand. So instead, I have tried to write a memorial that would do justice to a storm cloud that came and went through my happy, long ago, summer-blue skies.
Our friend Keith was living proof that everything is bigger in Texas. My height, Keith outweighed me by fifty pounds, but more than that, he was big in style and manner. He walked loud in stacked-heel boots, and he talked loud, laughed loud, and even slept loud, snoring like a bull elephant.
Keith came to Virginia Beach from Galveston looking for work. Twenty-two years old, there wasn’t much that he couldn’t do; heavy equipment driving, pipe fitting, carpentry, electrician, he even picked guitar, and sang, so I wondered how an economy as big as Texas could be so bad that someone with his skill set could not find something to do. He stayed with me and Dave in our bachelor pad for a couple of weeks, and we got to know him well. I was quickly shown through his “loud Texan” front, as the two of us sat up late one work night. Keith was picking out George Strait tunes on his guitar while I threw darts. Baby Blue was his favorite, he said, on account of his fiance’s baby-blue eyes... like the Colorado skies. Beers were going down at our typical high rate of speed as Keith shared his story with me.
Keith’s father had blown his own head off when Keith was in the ninth grade. Clean off. Keith’s mother found him, and it effected her to where she lost her job, her will, and finally her psyche. Keith’s strength through those times came from a school counselor who took an interest in Keith and his twin brother Kevin. This counselor asked Keith and Kevin what they might be interested in doing, something that might take their minds off of their troubles. Keith responded that he would like to be able to play guitar, or maybe learn karate. The counselor found him free instruction in both. Keith threw his energies into them, and excelled quickly at both while his brother Kevin found no outlet, and spiraled downward.
Keith explained to me that night that suicide is genetic. Keith had learned this “fact” after his brother Kevin disappeared from the oil rig he was working on in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico. After that was when Keith left Texas, and came to Virginia. He said he was running away from his destiny. He was crying when he said it. All I can remember thinking at the time was that it was very uncomfortable to see such a physically strong, rough-and-rowdy-type guy crying. I was twenty-one. I had no clue as to how I was supposed to respond to such a comment, so I just said, “aw, fuck it, Man,” and got him another beer.
Weeks later Keith asked me to pick his fiance up at the airport. Dave had wrecked Keith’s truck, and I was glad to help. I realized that Keith was in trouble right quick when Anne made a move on me before we got to their new apartment, but I blew it off, and never mentioned it to Keith. Regardless though, Anne quickly got pregnant. She and Keith got married in a hurry, and the three of them seemed to settle in nicely to family life. That’s why it was so surprising when Anne called me up one night scarcely a year after I’d met him and told me that Keith was dead. She’d found him hanging in their garage. Those baby-blue’s of hers weren’t crying as she told me.
It turns out that she had told Keith the baby wasn’t his. It turns out she didn’t even know who’s baby it actually was. Tough news for an already struggling young man.
I don’t believe suicide is genetic, but it does linger, souring in your mouth like stale beer. The scenes linger, and the thoughts... forever. Forty years later I can’t help but feel there were moments when I could have made a difference, when I could have said something, anything other than, “aw, fuck it, Man.”
But there it is. That’s where suicide leaves you.
She held it deep inside,
but somehow I always knew,
she’d go away when the grass turned green
and the sky turned baby blue.
And like a breath of Spring she came and left,
and I still don’t know why,
so... here’s to you, whoever holds my baby blue tonight.
It has taken years to realize
there was never anything
anyone but you could do…
If only love were sufficient
to shed light where
heavy and oppressive
keeping one mired
in its muddy depths
of melancholy and woe,
has withered away and
one has forgotten
lightness of being
with its promise of
If only the care and affection
to lift burdens
and make waking up
something to dread,
make one long
to be dead,
perchance to dream
it must be better
says the mind
that would decide
Love cannot live
cannot really know
the agonies suffered.
I loved you.
I love you.
I know you know.
I still miss you.
Fuck You, Ana.
Two years ago, in the summer of 2019, an 11-year-old girl in my town hung herself. Two years ago, about two weeks after the incident, I got pretty close to following in that little girl's footsteps. The keyword being, close.
Her name was not Ana, but it's close as I am going to say because I refuse to say her name. When I learned she was gone, it was my mother that told me. She didn't sugarcoat anything or try to let the news out gently in any way shape or form, she just said: "Ana hung herself last night." and walked out. It has always bothered me how my mother didn't even try to sound upset, she told me a mentally destructive statement like that is if she was telling me I might need to grab a jacket before I left. I honestly wish I had the right to be mad at her for this, but I don't cause I reacted as if she just told me to grab a jacket.
All I said was "Okay.". I showed no emotion at all as if nothing even fazed me about it. How fucked up is that? A child is told coldly how one of their best friends just hung herself and they don't even react. As an 11-year-old girl, I guess maybe it was because I didn't believe it. How can you just believe that someone who was just there, is now gone?
I reacted like a sociopath for a full day, but then I couldn't stop crying for the next two weeks after that because I think I realized that I woke up again and Ana was still dead. It hit even harder when a few more nights after that I finally got around to what little miss Ana wrote in my yearbook. I still have never felt as guilty for anything I have done in my life as how I felt reading, "Hope you had a great last year! <3Ana", while getting ready to go into my second year of middle school.
I watched the entire small town I live in release balloons in the air wear obnoxious shades of purple and cry for someone they didn't know a single thing about. I'm not didn't do those things as well, nor am I going to walk around like I know some truth about a dead girl that no one else knows. If I did that I'd be a liar.
Anyways, it's cold as shit out here, and all these cemetery cats are staring at me like I'm chopped liver. I don't even know why I felt the need to talk about you to your grave like this in the first place. Oh, and before I leave, fuck you, Ana.
Fuck you for making me feel like I was supposed to be your saving grace or some shit like that when you know damn well I'm not cut out for that shit.
I never got to tell you how much you meant to me. I never got to say what your friendship meant. I loved your smile, the way your eyes would light up when we hung out. Your heart was a heart of gold; you had such a sweet, kind spirit. I never realized how much pain you were in. I wish I could have done something to help you.
One thing you will never realize, is how much this hurts me. I don’t hate you, I never would, will, or have. I only wish I could have helped you. I wish you would have reached out to me - to someone. Everyone loved you, it pains everyone to see that you did this.
I never got to say goodbye. I never thought I’d have to. I never saw the pain in your eyes, the pain in your heart, or the pain in your mind.
I will forever miss you. I will miss the jokes we shared, the random things we spun stories of, the memories we made, and the secrets we confided in one another with.
I will never forget you; all I wish is that I had more time with you. I wish I had told you all that you meant to me. Now, you are gone; now, you will never know what you meant to me. I will keep you alive in my memories, despite the pain it brings me.
If only I could have told you goodbye, told you that you were the best friend I could ever ask for, told you that you meant so much, told you that your life is more precious that anything. I wish you would have opened up, I could have helped you; someone could have helped you.
I will forever remember you, the joy you brought, and the friendship we had. My life was changed because of your friendship; it is once again changed because of your decision, to take your life.
I have no choice but to move on, as much as it hurts. I will keep you in my memories; you will forever be in my memories. I cannot say goodbye, I cannot tell you what I wanted to since you’re gone. But I only hope you knew how much you and our friendship meant to me.
Now it’s a tragedy.
She was a wonderful person. We are all here today to give her the respect she deserves. And as long as we have our memories of her, she will never be gone. She is always going to be in our hearts.
I hope she found the peace she sought.
We have an impact on people's lives all the time, sometimes without even realizing it. With every smile we give or with every hello, we can change a life. And I like to think about the impact she had. And so, she will never be forgotten, and even though she saw herself as replaceable and irrelevant, I know that she wasn't. We all know that she at some point helped us to become who we are today. And that alone makes her irreplacable, not to speak of all the lives we don't even know that she had an impact on.
Depression is viewed as an attention-seeking behavior. Suicide is a tragedy. We need to wake up! We need to change ourselves. We need to start listening. We need to start getting help. With whatever it is that kills you inside. Ask for help. Be there for each other. Don't let people think that you don't value them until it's too late.
Suicide is sudden. But not for a person who is already suicidal. Suicidal people may have these thoughts for years and keep them to themselves before committing suicide.
But for everyone else, it's the first moment they start to realize it. Pay attention to the people around you. Don't give them the feeling they need to be ashamed or feel like a burden when they don't answer "I'm fine" to the question about how they are.
Learn from this lesson and break the stigma.
May she rest in peace.
Brother (what I never got to say)
I love you. I miss you more than words can ever say. I always thought that when you joined the Navy if you came home to me in a body bag it was going to be because we got ourselves in another stupid war, not because you were fighting a war with yourself.
You brighten any room you ever walk into, and I can’t believe we are going to have to live without you. Remember when you ate all the poptarts, and mom was so upset because she just bought them? Or when our other brother punched a hole in the wall because we were so anoying with “Hey-Ya” by Outkast?
I have never seen you so peaceful. So quiet. I had always leaned on you, you were my older brother. I never thought about you needing to lean on me. I hate myself for not knowing. You watched me fail at taking my own life. You learned from my mistakes and were successful. I hate myself.
Not being enough to know you were hurting. Knowing that you left me, 6,0000 miles away, and not being able to help. The Navy not even wanting to say what happened. I miss you. I will watch over the rest of us more carefully. I will listen to the signs. I miss you so much. I hope that you are happy. I hope that your soul is no longer burdened by so much pain. I hope you still think of us. We still think of you. We always will.
I regret not walking you home that night. I regret our fight, your tears, and the phone I left on silent. If only I had cared enough to shut out my own emotions for yours. If only I had taken the bottle out of your hands sooner. I don't regret meeting you. Or falling in love with you. They were the best years of my life. I simply regret myself. And having to make you burden my pain. I wish you were still here, even if it isn't with me. And most of all, I wish I could fix my regrets.