Last night, we received word that a second former classmate of ours from college had died. The first on the first of January of suicide – this guy died in his sleep from a heart condition. Two men gone in the first five days of the year.
While the first guy was a shock, we may have knew him in passing as he was a couple years behind us – but the most recent guy was someone we knew well – very well. He was a talented musician – a friend to all – and a very good person. Yeah, I know, most people after their death are spoken about in the same manner, but in his case, it is not hyperbole. He truly was someone who you watched go through life and were happy to see him being rewarded for putting into the universe good.
According to those in the graduating class both men were a part of, this is actually the third death since Christmas. Two suicides and one medical passing. Such a staggering number for a class at a college as small as ours is.
It is funny how the psyche processes shit. Last night, I kept having dreams where I was having conversations with people I haven’t spoken to in a while, yet care about deeply. I wondered, even in my dream, if maybe I was truly having these conversations – if I was reaching out to them as we were sleeping to just touch base and visit for a moment to make sure they are doing well. Such a strange idea, but given how strange the dreams were – how strange they felt, I almost can’t help but wonder if it was happening.
I guess both my conscious and unconscious mind know that these events, if they do anything, are meant to remind me, to remind us all, how important it is to keep in touch with people – to tell people how much we care about them, miss them, and love them. Each day is a new opportunity to do it, because we live everyday – we die once. It isn’t the other way around.
We can use the new year to mark the start of new habits, but fuck that – just do it already. Don’t wait until tomorrow or next week or when things get really bad. Live and love and care now. About yourself, about others, about life.
No one is going to do it for you.
And if you have people in your life who are struggling with depression and anxiety, don’t tell them to go on a fucking run or about how medical marijuana will solve their issues or get frustrated when they aren’t responding to your needs as you want them to. Make sure they are okay. Depression and anxiety is like living with a monster instead your head who tells you shit that is untrue – who fucks with your body as well as your mind. Remind these people you care, that the monster is lying to them, and that you are there to listen when they need it or drag their ass out of bed if they aren’t talking. While I do not believe as a friend we all have the qualifications to take on all that depression and anxiety are dishing out to these people, I do know that being that voice in the dark for them can help. (As can riding their asses to get a good doctor who can help them find the right way to shut those voices up.)
I once asked my dad while he was up to his neck in dealing with all of my grandpa’s medical issues – without the help of his brothers – wasn’t he frustrated by their lack of caring how their dad was doing or what he needed? Didn’t it piss him off? His response is something that I still think about at times. He said that when his dad finally passed, he wasn’t going to look back at all of the things he could have done or should have done for his dad while he was alive. He is instead going to know he did all he could and remember the father he loved. “My brothers,” he said, “are not going to be able to do that. And while they may be able to live with that, I know I would not be able to live with myself.”
I guess my point is this – when people we care about are gone, they are gone. Wishing you had done things differently is interesting, but won’t bring them back nor will it change the past. The road to hell is paved with good intentions. All you can do is do something different now and hope it makes a difference.
…..<steps off soapbox>…..
PS: Oh, and because mental illness is mentioned, I must say this – you can only be a friend to someone who is struggling. You cannot be their counselor or their doctor – nor should you be expected to be. I have found myself in a situation a couple of times where I was being leaned on so much that I had to say “I’m not qualified for what you need out of a support person – you need professional support. I can help you find that – I can support you as you go through that process – but I am not qualified to be your shrink.” That’s not you pushing the person away, that’s you saying what that person needs is not something you have. And that’s ok.