Thursday, March 26, 2009

A Teenage Suicide/ Before I Go/ This is Not an Exit

I remember the first time I was affected by suicide. We had a morning surf practice and then we were going to have a tour of the local surf museum and like none of the guys showed up. I thought it was pretty rude, but figured they must have just had a big night before. We were walking through the surf museum when either the surf coach or one of the few guys that had shown up got a call. All the guys were over at Fabio’s house because is older brother had killed himself. I wasn’t friends with Fabio; I don’t think I had ever even spoken to him. My sister knew him because he was dating her best friend’s older sister. One of my friends from class was best family friends with his family and I knew that he, JB, would be very upset. They are pretty tacky and touristy now, but I remember that the surf museum had St. Christopher necklaces for sale as he is supposed to be the patron saint of stuff to do with water. Anyway, I picked one up for Fabio just to say someone is still looking out for you right now and sent it and a card to him. We went to the funeral and it was heartbreaking. The crowd was huge, standing room only and it was a very big church. This young man must have been really well liked and yet he had felt all alone in the world.

The boys on the surf team were in to Unwritten Law and used to play a few of the songs obsessively. Nae and I couldn’t drive at the time so we’d get rides to school after practice with the boys and it was there that I heard them and liked the songs they’d play on repeat so I got the CD and "Teenage Suicide" was one of the songs on there. That was a pretty rough song to hear at the time, but the killer for me was "Before I Go". Even though I didn’t really know Fabio and I had never met his brother, I just imagined what both of them had/were feeling and the song broke my heart.

Fast forward two years. I’m sitting at our dining room table trying to write my final paper ever for my AP English class when the phone rings. It’s this girl, who went to my high school and I had gone to grade school with; we used to be friends but ran in different groups once we got to MD. She was kinda crying I think when she said, “Noah has been shot; he’s dead.”

(When we were little Noah and I lived across the street from one another. We weren’t best friends, but we were close and did lots of stuff together. We had one of the only pools in the neighborhood so Noah and his brothers and sister would come over and swim. We also used to carpool together and I remember one day his parents couldn’t take us to school but I didn’t know that, my parents had left for work, and Noah and his older brother held me "hostage" because they didn’t want me to call my babysitter and ask her for a ride. I was sneaky and got to the phone though and I remember Noah’s big brother was pretty upset when a ride showed up to take us to school. Also, when we were in Kindergarten, Noah and I decided he should have a pool, too, so we spent an afternoon trying to dig one in his backyard. After grade school, Noah ended up at another local Catholic high school and I didn’t see him for nearly four years, until one afternoon when I went to pick up Nae from water polo, he was there running at the track. That had been earlier this same year and the last time I would see him.)

I started crying and said, “What are you talking about? That’s crazy.” The girl didn’t have any details so we hung up. I came outside where my Dad was watering the lawn or something and was hysterically crying at that point. He started yelling at me “What’s wrong, what’s wrong?” He was worried that something had happened to my Mom or sister because neither was at home. I told him about Noah. I went inside and called my Mom at work and she said, “Listen, it’s just a rumor at this point, there are no facts, just pray that that’s what it is, a misunderstanding, a rumor.” So I prayed and prayed, but all the while thought “this probably isn’t a rumor, he’s probably dead, but why?” At this point it was still unclear that he had killed himself. I called my old friend Chiara, I think, it’s a little fuzzy how I got more details, but it was true. Noah was dead and he had done it to himself. After that, I had to drive over to our high school to pick up Nae from a swim meet. She could see that something was wrong and asked if she should drive me. She was probably thinking it was more drama to do with my loser exbf. When I told her about Noah, she burst in to tears. Nae was a pretty guarded and tough person at this time, I don’t think I had seen her cry in years, but here she was driving and crying and asking me to tell her about it. We finally heard from our other old neighbors that he had been upset or something and said he was going out, but he hadn’t really, he just got in his car. He ended up shooting himself in the driveway of his family’s house.

The next day at school I was a mess. His rosary service was that night and somehow they were able to fix him up so he could have an open casket. I just went briefly up to see him and all I could think was that he looked exactly like his older brother, the one who had held me "hostage" all those years ago. The funeral was the next day and I think his whole class came to the funeral. We were about a month from graduating.

I became pretty deeply depressed. I had never lost someone that I loved. My friends hadn’t either so they didn’t know how to handle it and just didn’t talk about it. I cried myself to sleep most nights thinking about him. I remember writing him notes in my journal telling him how much he was missed and that I probably wasn’t the only one missing him this much and how I wish time could be turned back so he’d get a second chance to make the decision over again. I remember getting trashed the night before his birthday….I was at a concert with some friends and the loser exbf and I was underage. I passed out on the dance floor after busting some awesome dance moves, or so I’ve been told, I don’t remember dancing but I do remember laying on the ground. My friend Candy put me on a bar stool and told me not to move, of course I did. Some security guards found me and kicked me out. I threw up in some planters at Downtown Disney, just next to the "Happiest Place on Earth"- classy, I know. I also lost a thong and had to walk around with only one for the rest of the night. The next day me and some of the kids from our grade school class had a little graveside service for Noah. It was pretty painful to be at. I think for a good six months I was a mess because of it, but I tried to hide it from everyone. I still think about him now and I still visited his grave on his birthday and the day of his death when I lived in the area.

About a year and a half ago, I lost someone else to suicide. We called him Uncle B, but he wasn’t our uncle. As I got older, we used to call each other “boyfriend” and “girlfriend” and I know that sounds creepy considering I called him Uncle, but it wasn’t. Everyone thought I had a crush on him when I was little so he’d call me girlfriend to tease me and in the end it was pretty weird when he started dating someone who was only a little bit older than I was. Uncle B was this larger than life guy. He had a pretty sarcastic sense of humor and he was an asshole when he was in a bad mood, but when he was in a good mood he was on fire. He used to come over to our house all the time for dinner, just unannounced and say, “What are we having?” Very often now when I’m watching TV or a movie, someone will say something or do something and it totally reminds me of Uncle B. He left behind 3 kids and an ex-wife who was his best friend. It was really sad going back home knowing he’d never barge in to our house again or yell over the fence to us and call us Rugrats. He’s someone I will always miss and never forget. I know his son is still hurting about the loss of his Dad, he’s only in high school and it’s a rough time for any kid, and I wish I could take away some of his pain so he didn’t have to handle such a heavy load on his own. From the reports his mom gives us, sometimes I’m afraid he’s drowning in this pain and I wish that I could be there to help him swim awhile longer til it stopped hurting so much.

Even just writing this has brought back all the hurt and sadness over losing these two guys and has me crying. It doesn’t really get better, you just learn to live with it.

Life hurts so bad
Don't want you sad
Just look back to
Good times we had
I'd give my soul for you I know
Want to hold you before I go
Before I go
I need you to know
I'm still alive in you
It's my time to go
Don't stay up late
I'm not afraid
And I don't want your heart to break
I know I've seen what's been unseen
Live fast, die young
It's part of me

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