My friend’s son killed himself last night. Overdosed. Accidently. On purpose. Who knows. The end result is the same. He’s dead. Early twenties. And, statistically, that’s all he’ll ever be. A young man who died of an overdose in his early twenties. But he was more than just a statistic. He was a young man with a story. A story that began with heartbreak and ended in tragedy. And despite a family’s worth of effort to rewrite his story – to shift the paradigm of history that led to this moment – his story ended as it began.
I am heartbroken for his mother. Heartbroken for him. For his brother, his grandparents, his girlfriend, his mother’s boyfriend who was a father to him for over a decade. Theirs was a relationship spent in a wrestling match fraught with the tension that comes between two people caught in the cycle of drug and alcohol abuse – one who has survived the worst and the other in the midst of it. I’m shocked. I’m paralyzed. And I’m helpless.
I’m not in the inner circle of this boy’s world. I’m the outer circle – part of a group of friends that cares deeply but is no longer in the daily lives of the parents due to circumstance and distance. We live on opposite coasts now. So we speak irregularly. But we still care about each other. And I still remember the young man as a boy. I know the sound of his gruff hello and can still feel the awkwardness of his hug when I came to visit. I know the joy of his infrequent laugh and the warmth of his smile when it appeared. I also know the frustration of his mother, struggling to understand his deep pain and dealing with the uncertainty of his future. I know the depth of the lows she felt worrying about his struggles and the elation of the highs she felt fleetingly, hoping that he’d overcome his problems. What I don’t know is what to do now.
I’m not inner circle. So I’ve called. I’ve emailed. I wait – wait for the call that will notify me if there is to be a memorial or funeral. I hope – hope that someone will call if there is anything I can do to help. I know – know that none of this will take away the agony of the loss of this boy. I write – write into the ether that exists somewhere between gaudy voyeurism and the catharsis of the written word. And I sit – sit with my heart ripped open and think about my friend who is going through the unfathomable: the loss of vibrant young man, the loss of her son.