I’m in mourning. Please forgive me if the next Assistance Dog Blog Carnival goes up late.
I found out today that one of my friends committed suicide. He had been struggling with serious medical conditions that caused him a great deal of pain and a fair amount of embarassment, and he had depression. My heart hurts, and I feel almost ashamed, because I knew he was in a bad place and I didn’t do enough to help pull him out. I knew that he had fallen out with the three people who he could bare every corner of his heart to, and I should have pushed him more to talk to me when he seemed reluctant. He needed someone, and I don’t think I was there enough. His marriage was on the rocks (mostly due to miscommunications), and a very close friend of his had stopped talking to him. Another had committed suicide a couple years ago, which left a profound scar on my friend. He was finishing up his PhD dissertation, and panicking a bit about the closeness of the deadline and the fact that there could be no further extentions..
I cannot convey to you how brilliant he was. At 21, he was revolutionizing cyberprivacy and setting up one of the big conferences for the cyberprivacy community.
To focus on his intelligence, though, is to speak to one of the least parts of him. He had an amazing well of caring for his friends, and he put an unbelievable amount of effort into helping them. When my horrid roommate kicked me out in December of 2008, he found a friend who was local to here who could rent me a room until I got my feet back under me. He also convinced his father to drive me the 40 miles to the nearby Big City (where I live now) to get to a doctor’s appointment because I was not sure I would be able to drive. When a friend of a friend was dying and her child was likely to end up in the hands of her abusive partner, he rallied people to do research to figure out a way to help her keep custody, and helped find a lawyer and helped with filing the papers and so on. When his wife was accused of deserting (she was national guard), he spoke so eloquently on her behalf that the state she served in was deluged with hundreds of letters supporting her need to stay out of jail so she could care for her husband. (We won, by the way – they dropped all charges and discharged her from the military). He found people jobs, he helped people get their feet in the door, and he offered to help those he loved with almost complete disregard for his own wellbeing.
I will not pretend he was perfect. He had a temper, a sharp tongue, and his depression made him force people away from him sometimes. But he was my friend, and a good and true friend to me. He was one of only a few people I could really talk about disability with when I first got sick; one of the only people from my ‘old life’ who completely got it and didn’t require in-depth conversations to understand what I had lost and how I struggled.
I believe the world is a dimmer place without you, my dear friend. I know you believed you were too damaged to have healthy romantic relationships; I know that you were deeply suspicious that people you let in might turn and stab you in the back. But I also know you were kind and generous, and caring. You were gentle when I needed someone to get it, and you traded somewhat bitter, sarcastic remarks with me about what it’s like to live like this.
I will miss you. I wish you had not died so far away; a trip to Europe to see you at rest is not something in the cards right now. Perhaps someday, when we vacation in Europe, I will be able to make a stop at your grave. If I do, I shall bring seeds of your favorite plants to keep you company, especially a datura plant.
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