Lost a few friends to suicide the last few years. Well, we were very close at one point in time. How does that work exactly? If you were close once but not in touch with them at the end of their life, can you still consider them your friends? I’d sure like to think that I could. I wonder if they thought of me as their friend. Guess I’ll never know now.
When someone dies we make them out to be perfect in our memories and recollections. Of course no one is and eventually you accept that your deceased friends were flawed, complex, challenging characters who kept big chunks of their lives away from us. To those who didn’t know them well they seemed to “have it all.” On the surface. They were beautiful and successful, two things that people spend all their lives chasing. And I suppose that’s what made their deaths that much more difficult for us to accept. How could they? Why would they? Do people ever think “Oh I totally expected that” when someone kills themselves?
At different parts of my life, they were special, important people. One was a college friend. We promoted parties and concerts together. She threw me a surprise graduation party. I attended her wedding in the Bahamas. She married her high school sweetheart. They did a kick ass rendition to “Crazy In Love.” She became a pediatrician. Her life seemed to be set. The second was a fellow writer. We had a thing. Briefly. We were neighbors. It was intense at times. We argued a lot. I could never beat her at Scrabble. We watched The Sopranos at her place. OK, Sex and the City too. She wrote her first book during our time together. It did well. She got very busy and eventually moved.
By the time they left us, they’d already left my life. Well, we left each other. Or did we? People drift. Purposely. Naturally. When I heard the news, I thought of the last time I was in contact with them. I made one leave our friend’s wedding in tears. I didn’t mean to. It was just a joke to me but obviously not to her. I tried to apologize. We never spoke to each other again. The other wanted me to participate in a Twitter chat about an award show. She’d always follow me and unfollow me on there. I ended up not playing along. I don’t really watch award shows. The next day, she’d unfollow me again.
Of course I felt guilty. But why? How was I supposed to know anything? Was I a bad person? Was I the worst friend ever? I wouldn’t think or feel these things if they were alive. After the recent death of a hip hop mogul, I wrote about how we usually react to the news. Some of the most common reactions are to wonder, “What could I have done?” and “Why didn’t they say something?” We make it about ourselves. We demand to know why as if there’s a simple answer to such a complicated action.
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