Stars and Fireworks

My best friend in the entire world died in 2006. You linger in the awkward moment in your mind – wondering how but knowing it’s impolite to ask. He killed himself. Now you’re faced with trying not to ask how or why and dealing with attempting to console me. But there’s no need to console me. Because everything happens for a reason, right? And he’s with G-d now, right?

I don’t know and neither do you. The Catholics say that he went to hell because suicide is an unforgiveable sin. I spent most of my life thinking that G-d was there to forgive my sins and the Catholics think so too in Confession but not with my best friend. Actually, most Christians think it is a sin. I’m Jewish, most of the time.

But this isn’t about my stalemate with religion.

So how can I “decipher its broader significance” in my life? I’ve been trying to decipher his suicide since July 3, 2006. I’ll just give you the tip of the iceberg version of how important his life was to mine.

In short, it was everything. More detail though, always more detail. His life and his death really shaped me into the person that I am today. I met him and lost him when I was in high school, a hugely important time in the life of a teenager. I, like all teenagers, was totally constructed by my surroundings, what and whom I encountered. If I had met him at any other time in my life his impact on me may not have been so extreme but I met him in the middle of a period of growth and change and identity crisis.

He told me that no matter what happened he’d always have my back. He always did. He sheltered me from all of that terrible high school drama; he kept me grounded and sane. He listened to me. I listened to him. (Every day I wonder if I could have listened better, helped more. If you go to a suicide survivor meeting they’ll tell you that wondering is just a part of the grief.) We had these secret meeting places. They didn’t need to be secret but it was more fun if it felt like they were just our places, they belonged to us. We’d go there and talk for hours. (Every day I wish that we had talked for just one more hour.) Now whenever I go back to visit my parents I visit his grave. The first time I went back to visit I laid down on it and got stung by fire ants and that’s when I decided that he was out there somewhere. He would have laughed. He would have loved how emotional I was trying to be but instead got stung by fire ants.

Every important decision I’ve made since then has been for him, to make him proud, to do it because he will never be able to. So here I am college. Here I am sober and drug free, here I am (usually) happy, here I am successful. Here I am still confused and hurting and left without closure. It never gets easier but every day I manage to manipulate these bad feelings into something positive. A lot of times I don’t succeed, but when I do – those are the best days.

He told me that no matter what happened he’d always have my back. So after he “destroyed” his temple by committing suicide, I “destroyed” mine by getting “Ad Astra Per Aspera” tattooed on my temple, on my back. “Look to the stars through hardships” in Latin. Even now, he has my back and he watches out for me every day, the good ones and the bad ones.

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