A Decade.

There are some things I write about every year. The weather is one of those things. How I hate the cold, and then, when temperatures climb into the 90s, how I hate the heat.  Holidays don’t usually pass without a blog post.  Birthdays too, usually get mentioned here.

And then, there’s David. I write about him every April 6th. Because I have to. Because if I didn’t, I don’t think I could live with myself. I don’t think I could look at myself in the mirror if I let one single anniversary pass without some attempt at honoring his memory or without letting myself feel the impact of him. Yes, I’ve written about him before, but it’s different every year. The pain moves, settles, and shifts.

David jumped up off an overpass 10 years ago today and fell to his death. He was 16. His birthday was March 11th, just one day before mine, and he hadn’t even had his driver’s license for a month. He taught himself handstands after his mother told him to go stand on his head. He had a beautiful laugh that made everyone smile. We sat next to each other in 10th grade English. He wanted to join the Navy.

He drove me home from school that day. We shared a cigarette. I probably could have shared more.  He asked if I wanted a ride the next morning. I said no. Less than 20 minutes later, that was it. He was gone.

10 years…

The headlines talked about traffic. Not about the loss of life. They talked about how some local “man” had jumped and caused traffic to come to a standstill. I scooped them all up, though. I wanted the stories, the remnants, all the bits and pieces of him that I could find. 

I cried. Broke down. Hurt myself. Slept. Drank. Smoked. Started over the next day. Over and over and over.

I go back now, ten years later, knowing how it all turns out, and read what I wrote then. It wasn’t much, at first. I didn’t know where to begin, I guess. Most aren’t equipped to discuss suicide at 16, and I was no exception. But then, the flood. It all came out. Pages and pages about what happened, how much it hurt, how angry I was that he didn’t take me with him.

May 3, 2000 – You and me could run away. There’s better things on the other side. I feel alone. Am I the only one? Am the only one who’s crazy like this? Or are there other people just as crazy as you are? Tell me…I dunno. I really don’t.

I’m not much for faith. I’m too sensitive for it, I guess. I see and feel how the world hurts and I just can’t rationalize diety when so many are dying and hurting and starving. But I know that David’s there. Always has been there. Watching out for me. Cheering me on. Inspiring me to keep going, to try harder. It’s not like a ghost. It’s more than that. It’s unwavering. It’s there whenever I reach for it. It’s there the moment my eyes fill up with tears and I start to remember his smile, or his laughter or his six-pack abs. Always. He’s unwavering.

There’s so much, each year, that I try to say. Each year, I don’t quite make it. I can’t quite get into it enough to say it all, to make it right, to do him justice. There’s just so much to say, and there’s so much I’ve already said and what I really should say to him, is this:

Thank you. I’m sorry. I love you. I miss you.

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7 thoughts on “A Decade.

  1. san

    Wow, what a tragic story. I had no idea you’ve lost a dear friend to suicide. He must have felt terribly desperate and alone.

    I am so sorry, Terra.

  2. Mom

    Terra it wasn’t just the death, or that it was suicide. It was you being the last one to talk to him. It was the chaos of the viewing and the funeral. It was his mother’s sobbing and his father’s anger, blaming her, the babble of relatives speaking what? vietnamese? chinese?.
    It was the storefront church and the funeral, held just across the street from where he jumped – dove -off the bridge. It was the preacher calling out to all the grieving teens at the funeral: “If you loved David you will come down now and accept Christ as your savior.”
    It was your first funeral, and the most chaotic, twisted, painful one I could imagine.
    And it was his parents, calling you and coming by, trying to understand.
    Terra, you are right that he is still here. Rhiannon and I have both seen or felt or heard him. And his message was clear: “It was not your fault. You couldn’t have known. You are not to blame.”
    I think he will be with you, like a guardian angel, until the time comes when, if, you are ready to let him go.

    Blessings to your spirit, David. Rest ye gentle.

  3. Terra,

    Crying a little. For you, for David, for me, for my Dave – for anyone who has ever been through this, from their side & from ours. The words are different every year & the feelings are different every day. It never stops hurting; it settles, maybe, it becomes a different kind of pain. It evolves. It changes. We grow, & they don’t. They are always 16, always 20, never growing old, never catching up. Lives unlived but never unloved.

    And why couldn’t they see? How much they were loved, how much it would hurt, how much hope there was? That things would get better, that things always get better, that at 25 and 26 we wouldn’t remember a single thing that hurt us when we were 16 or 20 – except for their deaths.

    There’s not much more to say, I guess, except that you’re not alone & you’re not crazy & this… this is cathartic, & I hope you keep writing every year.


  4. Thank you for sharing. Your mom’s comment puts it into even more perspective. What an earth-shattering thing to have happen in your world. Continue writing about him. I do so about my father, who died 5 years ago from stroke. I do it to make sense of things, to remember him, to allow myself to feel the things I try so hard to put away the other 364 days of the year. Keep writing.

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