I wished him a Happy 50th Birthday and we exchanged the usual banter about how it used to sound so old and can we really be this age because we were in high school last week.
Ok, it is more than a few weeks since we graduated high school but we did attend the same school and had some of the same classes together our senior year, but that wasn’t when or where we met.
Though I can’t recall the actual introduction I know for certain it was in Israel in 1985 and can attest to having shared a beer or two in Jerusalem.
I am told my friend died on Tuesday but I didn’t hear until today.
The news came in the form of a Facebook message four hours after I opened the letter with my life insurance renewal information.
Details have been sparse but the requests for donations to suicide prevention seem to provide a very loud answer to the question about what happened.
My son watched me take in the news and was surprised when I said what happened and shared a name.
“Dad, I am very sorry and I am curious. Why don’t I know his name?”
I told him his mother, grandparents and aunts would ask the same question.
One or more might even say his name sounds familiar but chances are it is because it is common and not because I spoke of or about him.
When we walked off the field in 1987 into the future we took paths that in hindsight were somewhat parallel but didn’t intersect until Facebook of 2011 or 2012…maybe.
I’d rather be talking about unlawful carnal knowledge than letting this song play while I sort all of this crap out.
Rather have one of those really honest Johnny and June conversations of yesteryear because they exist in the present too but now I am sitting here thinking about the conversations my buddy and I had because we had many.
He was very interested in the experience I had with Dad because his father was sick too. We spoke about all sorts of stuff before and after but the dad stuff sticks.
And intermixed in it all I wonder if maybe he said or shared something that I could have picked up on and helped with. I wonder if maybe I missed a clue or if I could have been more welcoming.
I have been pissed off at the world about a bunch of things and have mostly refused to discuss it. Been irritated with people who crossed lines they should have known not to cross and irritated with some for not recognizing other things.
Haven’t said boo to most of them because I recognize the taste of blood in my mouth and didn’t want to tear into them solely for the sake of tearing into people.
He is not the first person I know who decided to check out nor do I think he will be the last.
I make no judgment about his actions other than I hope he knew he could have asked me for help and that as irritated as I am there are those people who I will set it aside for.
Don’t mistake this for saying I feel responsible because I do not. I didn’t do anything to cause this and I feel horribly for his wife and kids.
But I also feel badly for my friend because he had to have been in a very dark place and sometimes we paint ourselves into corners we cannot get out of without help,
Sometimes things happen that are outside of our control and that impacts our view of the future as well.
A while back someone asked me if I had written about wearing a shmata like a queen because they wanted to know if it was a gay reference.
I said they missed the reference entirely and that I might want to wear a shmata queen. They said they didn’t understand and I said it didn’t matter, once you have been inside you think about getting back in again.
Another person asked if I had any advice for writers and I said they could do as others have advised and write the truth.
N0t just the truth they tell others but the one they tell themselves. Describe the inner part of your heart and soul and you might find something special.
Write about the person you think of as your air and how choke without them and then add a bit about how you can cough yourself into eternity if you must.
It is the sort of fence straddling that can make people want to strangle you for poor writing and for not giving them specifics they can rely upon for the sake of reading.
I am stuck in a moment, trapped in a device I created and wondering whether I’ll take the steps to free myself.
It would be easy to say turn out the lights and then use the online cart to pay for my life insurance.
Haven’t gotten enough sleep the past few days combined with a higher level of stress hasn’t made it any easier but experience dictates this will pass.
I often tell the teens to remember they have survived every bad day they have ever had so for the moment they have a perfect record, just have to keep going.
Write your truth children, write your truth.