Monday, September 19, 2005

On a Sunny Afternoon...

I already wrote about S tonight (topic: forgiveness). As I quietly move around the house, the boyfriend's soft breathing as he sleeps punctuating my lack of sleep, other topics buzz around my brain.

Someone that I considered a friend killed himself last week (with him living in another city, the news didn't get to us until tonight).

A friend called to tell me, and I appreciated it. What makes someone close enough to mourn? Do you need a certain amount of years under your belt with them? Do you need to have shared secrets with each other? Or do ya simply had to have had sex with them to be deemed close enough? I had none of those things.

I met Brett (we'll call him that, because that's his name. Normally I use first initials, but I'm using his name) at Interfuse this year. It was a small regional burn, which was leading up to my first Burning Man experience (see previous post with Interfuse in the title). He was wearing a Boyscout shirt and kilts. He had a firm handshake and an infectious smile.

He hung around our camp and I got to know him a little. Not a lot.

We got to Burning Man and there he was, once again in his Boyscout shirt. He was friendly, entertaining, and easy to be around. He came in and out of our camp, and it felt natural for him to be walking about.

I stayed out really late on a couple nights out there, and the day after one of these nights I was pretty wrecked. All I wanted was to hang out under our bar's shade structure and talk to people passing by. Brett spent his day under our shade structure also. We had some couches, chairs, water, energy drink, and cocktails. We all lounged about and talked, enjoying the break in the heat, grateful for the beautiful sunny afternoon. Occasionally a good song came on at The Deep End (story about The Deep End to follow soon) and P and I would run over for a dance break. Brett went over for a couple with us.

I enjoyed my time with him that day. It seemed like any other day. I guess I wasn't as appreciative of the time I spent with him then. When we left the playa I hugged him goodbye, telling him I'd hopefully see him before the next Interfuse.

Does this small snapshot of time spent with someone make it ok for me to cry? Because I am. I feel sad that this shiny, vivacious, sunny person was here a couple weeks ago. And now he's not. Nobody else gets to spend a splendid summer day in the desert with him, or anywhere else for that matter. I feel sad that he's not someone I could have EVER imagined would kill themselves (but do we ever?). I'm also sad that those around me that were really close to him are upset, and maybe that they were lucky to have had time to get to know him better.

Whatever the reason he took his life, I won't judge him. I kind of feel like everyone gets to decide what they want to do with their life. If he chose to take his, I hope he got what he wanted from that decision. I hope he's gotten relief from whatever pain he was so obviously in.

I do feel good that I had all those small encounters, but mostly that afternoon. I'm also grateful I got a picture of him waving at the camera in front of an art car...his infectious smile beaming at the camera. He ran over at the last minute to jump in the picture to satisfy my need to have people I know in every photo. We giggled when I told him about my childhood trip to Colorado when I returned with pictures of nothing but glaciers. He humored me by telling me it's a sign of a good photographer to have people in them (does that mean the glacier pics sucked?).

Anyway, I don't have a good way to end this post. I just hope he feels better.


Blogger Stephen (aka Q) said...

Oh, Carolyn, I'm so sorry to hear about your loss. (And the unexpected communication from S — quite a day you've had.)

What makes someone close enough to mourn?

You enjoyed his company while he was alive. That is enough reason to cry at the news of his death. If you appreciated him then, why wouldn't you cry now?

There are deeper issues here, too, of course. Primarily, in this case, the heart-wrenching truth that someone can smile on the outside when he is days away from suicide on the inside. You're describing a very sad situation, one where there's good reason to cry.

And in the end, "the heart has its reasons that reason knows not" (Pascal). Grief takes you where it will, like a ride at an exhibition. Don't try to resist it because it seems like an overreaction to you. And don't force yourself to grieve just to honor your friend.

It's a natural process; it's best just to yield to it. I've been there, I know.

11:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi there. Just stumbled across your blog. I like the way you express your thoughts, in some ways very similar to my own. Thanks for sharing.. glad I 'found' you.

On the subject of what makes someone close enough to mourn? I'd say having them make an impact in your life in some way, whether superficially, emotionally, or other ways. We all are connected somehow... when one of 'us' dies.. we feel it.

Hope you have a peaceful day.

:-) Michaela

1:01 PM  
Blogger Liz said...

I'm sorry to hear about all this happening at once. I can't believe S emailed out of the blue! And I think that if you feel sad about someone dying that you don't need to question if it is okay. Just feel sad. However you feel is okay- and right. You are entitled to your feelings-don't let anyone take them away from you. We'll have to chat about S. later. I can't believe it!

5:07 PM  
Blogger Carolyn said...

Thanks Q for the comment, you always know the right thing to say...not in a bullshit way...but a real-life/growth from adversity type of way.

Michaela, I also appreciated your comment, it's nice when you can relate to someone else's writing style.

And Liz...I always appreciate you, whether on the phone, email, or blog comments. :)

5:17 PM  

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