Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The Tough Stuff

Did you ever read the Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul books? I did, 1, 2, 3, 4 and the journal. The other 30 some-odd titles came out when I was in college and had no time to read anything that wasn't a 5 pound text book. As much as I appreciated the funny stories and the lessons learned, reading the acts of kindness and the leaps of faith these kids took on each other, there was one section that I prepared myself for. The Tough Stuff. If you're not familiar with the books they dedicated a section of the book, and in later publication separate books, to the stuff that's just hard. Losses, illness, and suicide.

I distinctly remember not starting this section right away, especially if I was reading at school or in public. Sometimes I would simply get up and change rooms, settle in my bed rather than on the couch, or in the back yard. Somewhere I felt safe but alone. I read all the time, many books have death and trauma, many books had sad stories and some were even true. These were different. These happened to kids like me, in a high school just like mine. These stories hit close to home, these stories were different.

Now why all the prep. Well you are being warned to prepare yourself, or runaway now. This past week hit way to close to home with a story just out of The Tough Stuff. I promise not to go into too much detail however this is not a happy post and you're welcome to move right along. See you later, I'm not offended I swear.

Really... last chance. Still with me? Okay here we go:

I wish each and every one of you could know Jon. Jon was a fixure of a bartender and patron of downtown Napa's bar scene. He reminded me of the "good ol barkeep" so often depicted in movies.  Charismatic and charming and could talk the pants off of just about anyone he wanted. He always had a joke or a tale, he could recommend a perfect whiskey cocktail for you, even if you only drank gin and could mix an old fashioned that would make any 75 year old tip $20. He was known to lick faces and greet his friends with "fuck you" and that was the sincerest form of affection from him.

Now as you've probably guessed the wonderful, knowledgeable local, that I'm describing isn't very Tough. Yesterday should have been Jon's 32nd birthday. While his Facebook is filled with birthday wishes, they're all qualified. Qualified with "you should be here" and "it'd be better if you could celebrate with us". Approximately 1 week ago, Jon made a decision that affected each and every one of his friends. He chose to take his own life.

I've lost friends over the years, to accidents and illness, but never to suicide. The tragedy hurts the same in many ways. A young life given up. A man who never gets to father children, or grow old. My heart breaks for the fact he will miss future summer barbeques and the fact he'll never beat me in beer pong again. But those things I've been through before. A loss of life has broken my heart and made me nostalgic for days before it was possible to know how much I missed them.

But, at the root of it, this is more than that.

This feeling of utter frustration, this nagging question, wondering if we could do just a little more. Wondering if a random text, an unexpected phone call, or one more story told over drinks would've changed his fate. I can't help but be angry. There is a piece of me that is so upset with him. I want to get a chance to verbally assault him for leaving us. I want to tell him he should have called me or one of the 10 mutual friends we shared; I know our friends would drop everything to come and help, and sit, and talk. I want to get one more chance.

I know I'm supposed to end on a positive note, something about him finally finding peace, because that's really what bloggers do. But that edit may have to come in the future. Right now, as things stand, I'm just angry and so upset that friends, that I know, would do anything for any one of us weren't good enough for him to reach out to.

I will leave you with this though: text, call, facebook, or email someone tonight, someone that's had a few bad days or just that you haven't heard from. Tell them you would be there. Remind them they're not alone. If it helps you not go through what we're going through, it will be worth it.

I apologize for any grammatical errors, or essential rambling, as you can probably guess I didn't read over or edit very well.

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