The Day You Left Me

cropped-Tom-Logo_rev.pngThe older I get the wiser I get.  Right now a reader has stopped to say this guy is only 32, this may be true but at the same time I am not 18 anymore.  In my short 32 years I have experienced my fair share of life and this much I know, it is short.

I have lost some great people along the way.   From suicide to accidents and old age I have seen a lot of great lives cut short mostly because of irresponsibility whether their own or at the hand of another. As a young angry child, I was put into foster placement.  This chapter of my life opened my eyes to the pain and suffering that life inflicts on people when they are at their weakest.

My first brush with death came when a roommate of mine at the foster home was struggling with his homosexuality.  Shannon came from a good upbringing, his family of Park Avenue decent thought it was easier to stick him away as a problem child rather than deal with his preference. The last thing Shannon said was goodnight. When I woke up the next morning he was hanging from the rafter in our room, he had taken his own life.

For months I struggled with how I could have prevented it, what could I have done differently. This weighed on my conscience heavily for years.  I rethought the situation over time and time again and I came up with nothing.

Several years later my second brush came when a close friend took his own life with a gun, faced with the thought that he was going to be a father before he was ready. It turned out that his girlfriend told him a lie.

With each passing, I grew more and more immune to the impact that the loss of human life had on my personality. I had become stone to the finality and refused to deal with loss.  I was angry, these people left without really exploring all of their options.  They left a void in their family’s life, empty memories with no explanation. They took the easy way out, because of these experiences I learned that there are signs that point to suicide, people give off a foul and cynical ora when they are going to take their own life. The sound of struggle in their voices is replaced by relief when they have decided to end it all.

The next five years brought more of the same with a twist. I lost my friend Madeline in a car accident, she was the sweetest most vibrant person that I knew and just like that gone.  I watched some older relatives lose their minds and then their souls, my cousin lost his life in July of 2002 and a young girl who worked for me lost her life in a drive by shooting.

By the time my cousin had passed I was emotionless, I couldn’t shed a tear. That didn’t mean I didn’t care, I actually cared very much.  All in one shot it hit me,  I closed my eyes and remembered how angry he got when the Christmas piles were not the same size, how he used to bite when he got angry and how excited he got when  he got his car to go faster.  I remembered the sound of relief in that kid Shannon’s voice when he said goodnight and my friend slouched over a chair trying to make sense of what his girlfriend had told him and the night I found out that Madeline was killed and didn’t shed a tear.

Today confronted with another senseless loss, I sit here writing while the tears well up in my eyes.  Each of these experiences has brought me wisdom and the predictability of death and I will attempt to put this as directly and sensitively as possible. When someone takes their own life whether on purpose or by accident the only person responsible for that life is the person who took it.  No matter how many different ways you play it back in your head, the outcome has already manifested and no matter how much blame you think belongs to you the end result is still the same.

When a life is lost tragically and the grief subsides, the only thing you have to keep that person alive is their memory. Living with guilt about the things you could have or should have changed is pointless, we all have regrets, don’t waste the precious time you have left with the people who are still here trying to make sense of the people who aren’t.

In the end life is short, this much I know!

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