For the past forever, I wake up April 1 and immediately think, fucking April.
That phrase prances through my brain during the final weeks of March, too, and there’s a three week period of each & every year – the end of March & that first, painful week of April – that I spend reliving all the moments that took place before and after the suicide of my friend, David, who took his own life April 6, 2000.
In terms of important and life-changing events, his suicide is tops, and 13 years later I’m still colored by the loss of him, when we were both just 16. He changed my life, in a difficult and painful way, but, with distance, I’ve learned that he taught me a lot about life and living too.
For the first year in a very long time, maybe ever since he died, I didn’t write a blog post about his death on the actual anniversary of his death. It was a semi-deliberate decision. I worked that day, this year, was busy the week before and while I had a lot of feelings and thoughts and whatnot bouncing around inside, I didn’t take the time to write it down until the anniversary had passed and I was left reeling with the revelation that soon he’ll have been dead for longer than he was ever alive.
But I did write about it. I told a story I hadn’t before and I put it on the internet someplace else. It was easy to write, but hard to read and when I sent it to my husband, who is my “is this okay to put on the internet?” guy, he called me with a leftover tear stream on his face, and then I knew for sure that it had come from a place I hadn’t visited for a while because it was far more raw than anything I’d written in a long, long time.
I can’t remember now if I imagined it, or of it was real. It’s clear, in memory, but memories are liars. They get rose-colored and distorted, the edges get crumpled & things are lost.
Memories aren’t reality, but they’re something close.
I said I’d go too, if he did it. I made him promise, cross his heart – you go, I go. You die, I die.
We were broken, is the thing. Brains fucked from the pressure and the weight of being 15, 16, and it seemed liable, the dying. It seemed easiest a lot of the time. But when it didn’t, I made him promise, made him say it, out loud, that he goes, I go.
You die, I die.
Later, you find a list. The Signs. Giving away possessions. Planning a death. Talking about – ugh – suicide. You don’t know the signs before, only in the After, when it’s too late, when it’s all too obvious, when, OF COURSE. It is the time of the “Why Didn’t I?”
But you don’t know then, not when you were living it, so instead you just loved a little, fingers crossed & said, you die, I die.
He always had a plan. He didn’t say it point blank, not in the clearest terms, and maybe memory has made it more poetic, but, side-by-side in 10th grade English, he said he’d fly. Maybe he asked if I could pick a way to die, what would I pick, maybe it’s all a gutted memory, but I latched on to it, latched on to dying by flying.
In my mind, our hands were clasped, the world beneath us, rushing up, as we flew down and down and down from the highest peak.
You go, I go.
In the end, he died. I didn’t. He flew, in the end, swan diving from a northern Virginia overpass.
Dead on impact, the papers said.
// read the rest, here.
So that’s why I’m donating to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline this month, because suicide has touched and changed my life. Because suicide is preventable and because a voice on the other end of the line can – and does – save lives.
Rest easy, my friend. Rest easy.