“Hey buddy’”, or “how you doing buddy”? This is how he addressed me. Everyday. When I first met him he would call me Texas, so when I arrived at the office as he was checking in, I heard that familiar voice, “Hey Texas, you’re here”? He then told me how much easier this go at rehabilitation would be for him, knowing I was here. His first name was Aaron and I won’t tell you his last name. His family deserves the privacy.
Some sentiments will haunt you, like the idea of showing up, and being present for people. People is used here, the plural as if we can be there for people or at the very least our people but in this case I just needed to be there for this person… don’t let me make this about me, this is about all of us the people and each of us individually being there for each other.
Maybe this isn’t about us or that, maybe it’s about suicide and missed opportunity. Maybe its about trauma and the frustrations that follow. Maybe it’s about loneliness and mental health. Maybe its about him and I and the expectation and the reality. Maybe its about the aging and the apathy and the tired of it all feeling we grow into.. The feelings that take over, the feelings we can’t deal with.
At any case Aaron isn’t expected to make it through tonight.
I left his last name off because when I take a hard look into the last few days, and an even harder look at the fine line between the way we hurt ourselves unintentionally and the things we do with an intent to be heard, the things we do with an intent to hurt others and the things we consciously do to hurt ourselves. It’s easy to see his name is my name too. His blindness strikes my heart and vision. My heart bears the same mark.
Saturday he said he wanted help. We talked and when I saw he needed help I called my sponsor. He’s been training exclusively for a call like Aaron’s. He knows all the moves and after a while they hung up amicably.
Saturday he asked if he should approach management. He never said I want to die, he never uttered or leaned to it. We chatted and I left to buy a pizza. I arrived home an hour later, put the pizza on the stove and started eating it. The bedroom door was closed which was new, but hell maybe he took a nap. I didn’t want to disturb him.
I ate pizza, laughed and returned for my laptop to do homework. I turn the knob on the door and its dark inside. Eyes adjusting I see his legs sprawled out from the bed. I trace his body, legs to thigh, then torso to neck. Around his neck is a shoestring. A fucking shoestring. It’s tied to the post of the bed. I turn around and leave the room. He’s alive I think. Per our conversation I gathered he didn’t want to be here at this house anymore. I’ve known Aaron since 2106.. This is not new. He’s alive.
The manger returns and that’s when I notice the twist and discoloration of his bottom lip. That’s when I notice the eyes blank and his arms upturned. Palms up.. At peace. Why do we always define the dead with at peace?
Aaron was fighting a war. The war continues, it’s just not waging inside Aaron now. It’s waging in the hearts and tears of his family, and those that might dare be vulnerable in acknowledging the fragility of life and the love risked living it. This is not peace, this lack of vibration, this is stillness. It is not compatible with life as the heart cannot be still and live. Something has happened and I am staring at the hole that was once a person.
Walking to the office I thought, impossible he’ll be fine, this is not possible.
He would never regain consciousness again. He has yet to respond. With a shoestring and five feet of space he killed his brain’s ability to breathe.
His name is Aaron and his name is my name too, because I have done this very thing. It doesn’t take much to drift off the side of the road. Drift… we jerk the wheel when we’ve fallen asleep in life. We jerk the wheel out of the master’s hands.
Some don’t make it back, so qualifying what you have with positive or negative labels is a slow crawl to apathy, death follows more quickly. Quantifying self worth is a cow in a treehouse, that’s zero real value and highly unlikely, besides that treehouse will fail. Why do we all fail? There is no greater ignorance than an ignored lesson. We will fail again.
Today is 4.2.18.. and Aaron is letting go a second and final time. Like so many things this is beyond his control. The prayers went up and out into the aether. The respirators he is living on started their hum and we are letting go of his recovery and in this moment we are lost beyond the help of each other. Nothing is beyond God, but death comes to us all. Since God is life, my thought is, he is finally free. His mind won’t hold him bound to resentment, and sadness. We’d do well to avoid that as well, but it sucks, it hurts, and there is no do over. I now understand the anger associated with suicide. I also have formed a few resentments of my own with the people that ‘lost cause’ their loved ones. I know his fears about the girl that left him and the family drawn to last resort behavior. This means more self work. I have more self work to do in this stubborn cage of mine.
The way is littered with the bodies of the fallen. Contrary to what some might do, I’ll do my best to honor him.
I’m sorry I didn’t pick you up, Aaron. I know you thought I would. We’re the same man, you’ll be missed. I’d tell you, you ain’t missing shit, but man, for you I’m gonna live in a manner befitting you. To honor you, to show you, that suicide shit was wrong but it is not in vain. Thanks Aaron, thanks buddy.. One…