Friday, April 15, 2011

Too Soon

My first boyfriend was Daniel Self.  It was the first grade and we were about seven.  He was a towheaded blond boy with an infectious smile and a much larger brain than many of the other kids in our class.  We played soccer on the same team and his age was constantly called into question by the opposing coach, due to his towering height.  At recess, we would either play house on the Tower of Trouble (a tall wooden play-structure) or spend the time chatting, hand-in-hand, curled up inside large cement cylinders watching the rest of the kids play dodge ball.  He bought me gifts and drew me pictures.  He was one of my best friends. 

Then one day, a new girl came to the school.  Her name was Gretchen.  She wore make-up and off-the-shoulder shirts.  She'd wink at Daniel as she sat sideways at the cafeteria table.  My first true taste of jealously. Then, the rumors came.  Toward the end of the first-grade, rumors started going around that Daniel had kissed Gretchen.  He hadn't even kissed *me* so I was very disturbed.  At recess that day, I asked him about it and he wouldn't answer me.  I was so frustrated with him that I picked up a handful of rocks and shoved them into his mouth.  We didn't speak again until college.

Several years later, I saw him crossing the campus at U of O and we stopped to talk.  We were both all smiles, but time had passed and we realized that we really didn't know each other at all.  He went his way and I went mine, pleased that we had caught up a bit, but certain that we would lose touch again.

A decade later, Facebook entered our lives.  As the rest of our graduating class started to link via friendships, Dan and I made that connection again.  It was a tad bit superficial, but a connection none the less.  My guilt over my immature behavior (Hey, I was seven) had sat with me for a long time, so 25 years after the fact, I finally messaged him an apology.  I told him how often I had thought about that day and that I wished I had handled it differently.  He told me to forget about it, saying that he didn't even remember that it ever happened.  He may not have cared, but I did and I'm glad that I got the chance to talk to him about it.  That was nearly two years ago.

Last night, I found out that Daniel killed himself. 

His Facebook page never advertised any sadness in his life.  In fact, it's full of quotes like "I'm gonna have more fun than you." and "You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough."  He ran a skydiving school and went by the name "Dive-Out Dan."  He was -- at least outwardly -- a very ambitious young man who was full of energy and life. 

Dan and I have obviously not been close in recent years, but he was still a very formative part of my past.  Dan was smart and fresh and cheerful and had a world that was equally bright in front of him and in his rear-view mirror.  Having a rare inside peek from additional sources that I've encountered in my work life, I learned of some issues that may have been weighing heavily in the back of his mind, but no one would have ever had any clue that they were there.  According to friends, he never asked for help.

Some people don't ever ask for help.

I'm writing this today not as a plea for you to observe your buddies...that's far too much burden to put on loving friends who often bring out the best in people who feel dark when they're alone.  I am, instead, writing to plant a seed in your brain.  You most-likely aren't currently planning suicide.  At least, I hope that you aren't.  But, if the idea ever comes to your head, traditional help is probably not the first place you will go.  Suppose you're not constructive enough to call a help line.  Suppose that you don't have a religion or other fear of the hereafter which looks down on suicide.  Suppose you don't care that your family and friends will suffer with the pain of loss for as long as they live. This seed is here to put some sort of hesitancy in your mind, nonetheless...just enough that you will hopefully delay long enough to get your zeal back. 

The seed is this:
Some day, someone will need your help.  It may be a child who can't find her mother.  It may be a pedestrian who doesn't see that bus.  It may be a neighbor who has a heart-attack in his front yard.  Some one *will* need you.  If you aren't there, it affects other people's family and friends, too.  You will cause a ripple of heartache that could have been avoided if you had just spent a little more time on this earth. 

Now, some more traditional info.

If you're currently contemplating suicide, please talk to some one.  You could have an actual chemical imbalance that's making life feel far worse than it is.  Here are some resources:

Suicide Prevention Hotline1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255)
Read This First
The Samaritans

And finally, some facts to inspire:

Life can get better...look at JK Rowling
Rags to Riches
Paula Deen
Extraordinary Comebacks

Please remember, the world needs you.  Love needs you.  I need you. 

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