Sunday, October 15, 2017

On How to Help?

Dear S--,

I've been trying to write this for about a month, now.

I ran into your Grandpa at the grocery store and although it had been five months since you killed yourself, he looked shaken up. I suppose that the nice thing to do would have been to offer him some sort comfort? I should have acknowledged what happened and then told him how sorry I was about it, I suppose.

I couldn't though. Don't think I ever can.

So I asked him how his foundation work is going and we chatted a bit about my shitty job. I mentioned that I had recently visited family up your way and he said he was heading up in a week or so to see your family and your Aunt's family. His family. I still didn't have anything to say to him. And we left it at that.

It's not like I had nothing to say, but what I had to say wouldn't have been a comfort to him because knowing what you did... I can't say that you were wrong.

The last time I saw you was almost exactly four years ago. I was at your Aunt's house visiting briefly before I headed down to my family. It was your cousin's birthday party. You were the oldest one there, by several years, which isn't easy, but you were trying. Trying to be included. Trying to one of them. Trying to keep it up.

I've known you for a long time. Not quite since the day you were born, but pretty close. I remember meeting your father, back when your mother and him were lying to themselves about themselves. They were idiots. Then he was gone and you were with your mom and the stream of guys she kept promising you she'd marry until she didn't. How many time was it? Five? Six? Seven? No matter the exact number, it was too many.

And so I watched you. I wasn't really friends with your mom, but with your aunt and her husband. They were my friends. But your aunt was very careful to be around you as much as possible. I don't think she trusted your mom. So, when I visited we ended up at a lot of places your mom wanted to be with her friends to keep an eye on you, I think.

I think that because I can remember several occasions when I was the one watching you. You would walk off looking for rocks, you really loved rocks for a while there, and I'd see you go and your aunt would see you go (and your uncle may have seen you go, but before he had kids, I don't think he had ever thought about how easy it is to lose a kid). I'd look at your aunt and jerk my head in your direction. She'd give a weak smile or a stony look and nod. I'd get up and follow you. I'm sure she would have if I hadn't been there, but I was and since I wasn't really wanted anyway I wouldn't be noticed.

Mostly, I just followed you. You'd pick up rocks, look at them, compare them to each other, and put them in your pocket. When you found an acorn, you threw it as hard as you could and then look for another rock. Occasionally, you'd call me over and talk about your rocks. You'd talk like you were a scientist, even though you didn't have a clue what you were talking about. You sounded authoritative, though. I didn't say much. I just listened. I knew that you weren't listened too very much. Most of the time you were just talked at and told what to do. You needed to do some talking.

In time, your mom moved, with you, and I saw you less because, again, I wasn't really friends with her. I'd ask your aunt about you, though because I could see, even when you were little, that something was hurt and hurting. Something that wouldn't be easy to shake and I wanted you to be well.

I did see you on occasion, though. I'd visit your aunt on holidays and you'd be around, so I saw you get bigger. I saw that you always wore your hair long. Was that your idea? I think it was. The main reason I think so is because you always kept hair in front of your face. Trying to hide. Even when you laughed, it was from behind a curtain of hair.

At your cousin's birthday four years ago, your hair was the longest I'd ever seen it and it was always blocking your face. All day long. All day long.

I mentioned to your aunt that I though something was wrong. That you weren't happy. That it might have been deeper. She said she'd mention it to your mom. Your aunt was going through her own shit at that time as well as trying to raise her kids. I'm sure she mentioned it to your mother and was blown off.

Your mother always seemed to attribute your actions and attitude to something you were eating. The nitrates or nitrites or whatever else the liberal mommy blogs were saying at the time. Plus you probably weren't acting much different from usual. Was she dating at the time? I can't remember. It was only a year or so ago that she finally got married to one of the guys that she'd always say she married. Did you do things to try to drive these guys away, or did you want a dad?

Anyway, after you killed yourself, I didn't feel surprised. I felt more like it had been a long time coming. That's not fair and not nice, I know.

The problem is, though, that I've been near that point myself and ever since then I can't say the suicide is a bad decision. I can't. It doesn't feel like a bad decision in the moment, and it doesn't now, either. Even in these moments where I can hope for a future I can't say that suicide is not an option.

In the moments when I imagine talking to you before you kill yourself, I imagine telling you that it's an option. Not necessarily the best, but it's an option. I can't promise you that things would get better either. I could tell you that things change, though; that things would be different. I would tell you that people would miss you. Your aunt would. Your grandpa would... does.

Would any of that helped to stop you? I don't know. Would you have heard the honesty, though? I think so because at my lowest, even when I couldn't feel like anything but a burden on the world as a whole, I could recognize honesty.

Still thinking about this won't bring you back. It's unlikely that any of your family will know that I wrote this and I don't think it would bring them comfort. Probably just make them angry. And you'd still be gone.

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