This is one of those posts that is hard to write, but I write it because writing is so healing for me. I have had so many emotions, thoughts, and feelings today that spoken words just cannot justify... yet silence is not justified either.
I write in remembrance. In loving memory of a dear friend, Shane. July 16 1981 - August 31 2011
Last night the pain of his life became too much, his depression too deep, and his strength ran out. Last night he ended his own life. His last facebook status update was, "I'm sorry." And I think he was. He didn't do this to hurt anyone, and it breaks my heart that he reached the point that he saw this as his only remaining option. My heart breaks because I will miss him. Yet at the same time I feel a strange peace... a simple knowing that maybe... he will find the peace he could not find in this life. Shane struggled with depression for most of his life. I remember in High School when I knew him best, it took great strength for him to go on and not end his life then. It should be a testament to his strength that he made it this far.
It is true that I have not been close to him since high school. In fact, I went several years without hearing from him at all. In the time that we had reconnected (on facebook) I've only really talked with him three times. It is true that I do not know what his life was like after high school, what he may have gone through, and what brought him to this choice last night. I am not writing this to undermine anyone else's pain, or to say that my pain is any stronger than others who loved him and knew him. I write because these memories are all that I have.. they mean so much to me. This blog post will be long.
I actually first met Shane when I was 5 years old. He was mean to me in the typical way that young boys are mean to little girls. As we grew up he was a grade lower than me so I didn't think another thing of him until High School. We laughed over the memory I had of him picking on me as a little girl.
We dated. We were a couple for probably about 6 months, which is a long time in terms of many high school romances. He wasn't my first boyfriend, but he was the first one that I loved in a way that I couldn't explain. I had cared for my other boyfriends and loved them as a very close friend loves another. Yet with Shane it was the first time I was feeling that overwhelming feeling of "falling" in love. He was all I thought of day and night. Even then he was suffering from this great, deep depression that I couldn't quite understand no matter how hard I tried. I was suffering from my own depression, the beginnings of a clinical depression that I have battled my whole adult life. But I recognized that his pain, his depression, was a different kind than mine... it consumed him and tortured him in a way that mine did not.
We wrote poetry for each other, held each other close when we could. We listened to Pink Floyd and Nine Inch Nails. I tried to comfort him when I could, and he tried to be happy for me. He would have moments of happiness and laughter, sometimes even a few days when he seemed content. But something would always rise in him again, this darkness that would pull him down. At 15 he was already a pretty heavy drinker. He drank to numb his pain, to escape from whatever demons haunted him. I remember he was always telling me that I was too good for him. That I was too pure and innocent and that I deserved better. I argued that he was wrong, that if he would just accept my love, maybe he could be happy. He thought his darkness would consume me and drag me down. I thought that my light could shine bright enough to overpower his darkness. It was the one thing we could never agree on.
Being teenagers full of raging hormones, sex became a topic for us before long. We both wanted to, but I was a virgin and not sure if I was ready and he respected that. When I decided that I loved him enough and felt that I was ready, he refused. He did not want to be the one to "Taint" me and "take my beautiful innocence from me." (He was always quite poetic and rather melodramatic with his words) Of course, it just made me love him more, that he was willing to wait and never pressured me. He just took my presence and soaked it up, there was this need in him for tenderness and at least I could provide that. He would walk 2 miles to my house after dark to sneak into my bedroom after my parents had gone to bed... just so he could lay next to me and fall asleep in my arms. In the morning he would wake up and sneak out and go down to the river until it was time for the bus to come. He would meet me at the bus stop and we would ride to school together.
He was so sure that I was going to leave him or abandon him. He would always ask me why I stayed, and ask me to promise to stay with him forever. I told him and assured him again and again that I wouldn't leave him. Whatever pain he had, I couldn't stand the thought of adding to that pain in any way.
It came as a surprise then, when he broke up with me. It crushed me, really. Because he had always been the one to say he needed me so badly, and he had been the one so afraid that I would leave him. He told me that same thing he had told me before; that I was too good for him, that his darkness was bound to bring me down. He said he knew he was on a path of self-destruction and he would not make me ride that path with him. It took me a long time to understand it, but eventually I understood that what he did was the most selfless and loving thing he could have done. He could have been selfish and allowed me to stay, hopelessly devoted to him. I wouldn't have left him... I could never have hurt him. He chose not to be selfish, and in the only way he knew how... he set me free. Perhaps he was right, perhaps there was nothing I really could have done for him in the long run. I was young and didn't yet understand that a person cannot truly receive love unless they first love themselves. Eventually after my pain and anger had eased, we remained friends, and he explained to me again that he just couldn't bring me along with him into the darkness that he could not escape, and that he thought I was just too good for him.
I was still a virgin when he broke up with me, and planned on staying that way. At first I was glad that I hadn't slept with him, it would have made the pain of our break-up even harder for me, since he would have my first. A few months later though, I was raped. I was threatened with a gun and a man I didn't even know took from me what I had wanted to give to Shane. I remember that among all the feelings that I felt during that time, I thought about what a waste it had been... that my first time could have been an act of love but instead it was a time of fear and pain. I remember actually being angry at Shane for not taking my virginity when he could have, and I sometimes still have this pang of regret that he wasn't my first. Eventually I realized that if Shane had been my first, I probably would have resented him for that for one reason or another so I eventually got past that feeling.
When Shane found out what had happened to me, I remember him calling me, wanting to know who and wanting me to give him permission to go kill the person who had done it to me. I think he probably would have done it. I didn't want him to go to prison, so I never told anyone who it was that had raped me. In our small town, word would have gotten back to him if I had told anyone... so I kept it to myself. I became one of those statistics of the girls who never report their rape to any authority. I was ashamed of what had happened to me, and I was really afraid of what Shane would do. I didn't see him much after that, and eventually after I graduated high school I moved away and lost track of him. But I would think of him often, wondering if he was okay and wondering if he ever thought of me. About a year ago I found him on facebook. He accepted my friend request and we spoke for the first time in about 11 years. He was truly happy to discover that I was happily married with 3 kids and relatively good life. He told me that he knew that I was "the one that got away" but that he was so happy that I was doing well and had found love and happiness. I told him that I wished he was happy too, and that I would always care about him. The conversation was awkward and we only spoke two other times after that... it was always very cordial and polite, general chit-chat.
Whatever his pain, he reached a point last night where he couldn't be strong anymore. Whatever his reasons, he felt that he had run out of options. It hurts and I feel the absence of him very deeply, I have felt this emptiness in my heart all day, this big empty hole that will somehow now just become a part of me as much as he has always been a part of me. He was such a big part of my past, our relationship - though short and juvenile, shaped me and changed me.
I wanted to write this tonite, as he has been on my mind all day. I only hope that he knew I loved him. And I write because his memory is important to me, and always will be. I will miss him, and I will never forget him. I am glad that I got to share a chapter of his life.
A mutual friend posted today on his facebook wall this beautiful prayer that sums up how I feel...
"For you, My Dear.. Today I Sing your Passage, Today I light a flame for your Peace. For you, Sweet one, I laugh for your Joy, and I cry washing away your sorrow. Thank you for gracing my life and learning lessons with me in our wake. You are blessed, Loved, and Remembered. Thank you for walking with us for this time..."
Rest in peace, Shane. You were loved.
thank you for reading this, if you have read this whole thing. Thank you for letting me share this story. It is his story as much as it is mine. Please send prayers to guide his spirit to the peace that he deserves, and send vibes of comfort to his family and friends who are feeling the pain of his loss.
Suicide is a sad reality in this country. So often we don't know how to help our loved ones who suffer from depression or mental illness, and the world is ill-equipped when it comes to finding ways to truly help people. I hope that everyone can someday work together to find better solutions. Meanwhile, if you are depressed or suicidal, or know someone who is.... please please reach out. You are not alone, and you are loved... even if you can't see it right now, please know that you are loved! Just talking to someone can really help. 1-800-273-TALK (8255)