My friend died.
His name was Adam. He was a lovely, fun individual. I described him as a character from an Edward Gorey tale, and I still find it apt. He was the only human I’ve ever met who capered. He was creepy, and dark, but in a Jack Skellington King of Halloween kind of way. That was his duality, I suppose. He pretended to be a vampire but only if he could carry around a toy stuffed bat to do so.
His humor was a counter to his pain. Adam had lupus, and his body constantly waged war against him. He took medicine to help, but that medicine brought its own boatload of conditions. He described his condition as being handed so many spoons, and those spoons represented his allotted energy. Unfortunately, there was often more hours in the day than spoons to spend things on.
Adam committed suicide. He left a lot of hurt, confused friends behind him. I mean a lot. Adam was gregarious, charming, engaging, and had an enormous heart. As silly as he could be, if a friend was in pain he was right there, Johnny-on-the-spot, to offer empathy and wisdom. He touched a lot of people’s lives. More people than I rightly know, and we were on different ends of the same community.
His death was all the more tragic because had he picked up the phone, he’d have been spoiled for choice for humans who would have come to help him. He would have no end of people to rely on, to talk him out of his black space, who would have given him their last spoon.
I’ve seen so many faces of grief lately I feel a little dizzy. A lot of angry, sad, wounded people looking for answers from a person who can no longer be asked questions of. I have tried to reach out and be reassuring, to remind people of Adam’s beautiful soul and not of the bleakness of his passing.
The one thing I haven’t done is grieved yet. In my way, my grieving is helping other people grieve. I don’t know what compels me, just some feeling inside that says that I can wait, there are others who need help now.
The truth is that I’m just as conflicted as anyone else. I didn’t know Adam as closely as some do, but the memories I have of him are fond and wonderful. I am terrifically sad that he did it. He was close to my husband and one of my husband’s dearest friends, and seeing the pain that Luke is in while he wrestles with what happened hurts me just as much as losing Adam did.
And that’s the truth of it, right there. Seeing the pain on all of my friend’s faces, it’s killing me. Knowing that I can’t help them all is as painful as losing one of us. It’s ridiculous for me to expect this of myself, to think I could heal them all, but that doesn’t stop my instincts from saying, “Try.”
Adam’s wake is next Friday, and Luke and I will be going, as long as the weather isn’t dangerous. We will be seeing friends who we only see a few times a year, as well as people I have never met. It will be a day of tears, but it will be a day of laughter as we reminisce about Adam and tell his stories.
I remember a time as a teenager, after I’d moved to Washington, when I began to despair of any of my friends surviving their personal angst. No one managed to kill themselves, fortunately, despite their efforts. But now, we’ve lost someone to exactly that affliction, fifteen years after we pulled ourselves up by our bootstraps. Here we have a friend, ravaged by depression, knowing that he had many loved ones that would help him through. He instead chose not to make the call to save himself.
Death is the final destination that claims us. Certainly people have their beliefs, but death is that frontier that we sport glorious ignorance of. Watching everyone react is a reminder of how people deal with reality, when it comes in at a ninety-degree angle from expectation. Myself included. But while I know I will cry for Adam, I will do so knowing that it isn’t what he wanted. That if it were another friend’s funeral, that he would be capering around, or else listening solemnly to his friends, trying to console them. I don’t think I can caper, but I think I can manage the second one.
And I will bring him a spoon.