Today is what would have been his birthday. It’s easy to remember, May Day/International Workers Day, and I will never forget it. So, that means I cannot help thinking about death on this day.
I think about it all the time actually, and I don’t want to. I wish these thoughts could be resolved somehow. I know they won’t, but I can’t help it.
I wish I had a definitive answer of why it happened. There are so many theories swimming around in the ether, ideas and conclusions and judgments, wondering why this had to happen and most of all who to blame.
Well, being that I’m unable to think about anything else, please allow me to make a list of these various answers to that underlying question. Thus, therapy…
Suspect 1 – The Ex-girlfriend: This is the most obvious, and she probably does bear the most responsibility. They had a truly toxic relationship, and he seemed to go off the deep end after she threatened him. She’s simply not a good person, and alcoholism makes everything worse. He was constantly talking about her in the end, and shared and reshared their private drama online. He was convinced that she was going to publicly embarrass him and ruin his reputation, and no doubt there were more horrifying psychologically-abusive fights behind the scenes that I can’t even imagine. Breakups can cause deep pain for anybody, and this was the worst I’d ever seen. Damaged beyond repair. It seems she was twisting the knife inside until the very end.
Suspect 2 – Racism: This in fact overlaps with the previous. The previous year of Blacks Lives Matters protest took a heavy toll. It was important to march and take this seriously, worthy of support, but unfortunately focusing on the injustices of the world had an effect on his mental health. I’m afraid that he became too dark, too negative and suspicious of the world, however rational he was to feel that way. I know he experienced things I don’t have to deal with, I just wish he didn’t. This outlook in the world peaked with the fear that his white ex would lash out and punish him—in obvious police brutality ways—I suppose he was just ready to give up at last.
Suspect 3 – The Pandemic: I do consider him a casualty of COVID. Because many of the scars upon society weren’t just measured physical disease, but on the terrible psychic toll as well. It was an awful two years, as the world shut down and he retreated to living with his immediate family. It was real trauma. If only he could have moved and worked abroad, something he talked about often, and also could have gotten away from the depressing spiral of the ex-girlfriend relationship. Where I live mostly shut off from the world, but if I only tried harder to work it out.
Suspect 4 – The Ex-wife: On the subject of family, there was also issues with another ex and his children. Lots of people deal with divorce, lots of men end up having to live far away from their kids and it must be very hard. I know they had some growing legal disputes towards the end, she didn’t want him to be closer, and he didn’t approve of the new guy in the kids’ lives (for reasons I certainly agree with). I’ll never know how much of an aspect this was in his decision, but I do know she didn’t even come to the funeral let alone bring them and I don’t think that is human.
Suspect 5 – Guns: America has an absolutely evil problem with guns. Even though homicides get far more media attention, approximately half of all gun deaths are self-inflicted. This is a much bigger problem than most people acknowledge. In fact, studies have shown that making people wait twenty-four hours to purchase guns significantly lowers these rates. Frankly, it should be harder for people to hurt themselves. I know he was into shooting ranges and this was a destructive hobby, normalizing the use of these deadly machines. It is what it is, a fundamental right in America for some reason, and who knows if he’d have found another way to it anyway or if the dark episode would have passed without this option. I just know I fucking hate guns.
Suspect 6 – The Military: This may be the true underlying reason for all the mental health issues. It was PTSD. He was going to therapy, and expressed guilt at times about what he did abroad in the armed services. I don’t believe he did anything that much worse than the average grunt, but it did eventually cause a major leftward anti-war turn. The American military is notorious for causing lifelong damage to veterans and never taking responsibility in the long term. They say a vet dies every day hour to this. A truly shameful part of my country, causing so much misery to untold thousands surviving friends and families. The system failed this man completely.
Well, these are some of my thoughts, in trying to understand what happened. It’s likely to be a combination of the above, or other factors I don’t know or won’t talk about. There were hints of other private matters, all kinds of things that made life complicated and tough. The weird old friends re-entering his life, sexuality and other relationship entanglements, and other close family deaths that perhaps brought those thoughts to the surface.
It’s not easy out there for anyone, but something got worse for him and it culminated about one year ago right before his fortieth birthday. I guess he didn’t want to reach that age, there’s something else to consider. What it was most of all, I wish he told me. I wish I knew before, and I wish I tried to know more before while I could have said something. Now it’s too late, there’s only silence, forever.
In truth, I don’t know you. But writing can connect strangers. Pain can connect. I just wanted you to know that I hear yours. And my heart aches for your loss.
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So sad to read this. And so much to unpack there. Maybe some good can come from it by writing more about it. Maybe not now but down the road. For now, of course, you go through mourning.
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