Do you ever feel as though you would like to do certain parts of your life over again? I actually usually don’t. I have made a lot of mistakes in my life, but most of them I have embraced as a part of me. However, there are a few regrets that I have that weigh heavily on me. They sneak up on me when I’m least expecting it and tug at me, trying to pull me down.
I belonged to a group of friends back home that used to hang out together all the time. As the years went on, I separated from them a bit, but they always stayed my friends. One of these friends was a boy named O. He was tall, had longer dark hair, and wore glasses sometimes. He liked to talk a lot. Everyone was slightly envious of him because he had managed to get into a great school, get a really high GPA and continue his education at law school. He liked to sing. He was really great with computers and electronics. He liked getting drunk, but not noticeably more than any of the others. He was intelligent and sometimes a bit of a know-it-all.
One morning in August of 2003 I awoke to the sound of the phone ringing. I had a bad feeling about the call, though I don’t know why. My friend left me a message. She sounded terribly upset, telling me that something was wrong with O. I was so scared to call her back that I got dressed, walked the dog, and didn’t call her back till I was at my parents’ house where I wasn’t alone. My father thought I was being ridiculous. I was told that O had killed himself.
A few days prior he had called me. We chatted for a long time, which was really unusual. We were good friends, but didn’t have the kind of relationship that involved long phone conversations. He was really super nice and sensitive that day. He wanted to know exactly how I was doing and listened to me complain about my life. I had left my then husband over a year prior, but I was still an utter mess. O listened to me patiently and gave me advice, both emotionally and regarding the upcoming divorce. After all, he was almost a lawyer…
After receiving the news, the few pieces that were holding me together fell apart. I remember exactly how devastated I was. I never raised the shutters in my apartment that day. I got extremely drunk.
Our group of friends was left with the question that many people are left with after a suicide: WHY??? However, the pieces came together very quickly for us. O had made his entire life up. It wasn’t true, it wasn’t real. He never graduated high school. The great school he claimed to have graduated from had never had him as a student. There was no law school, none of it was true. In the end, the man without an education or job perspectives had gone bankrupt, was being evicted from his apartment and had no other place to go than suicide.
We were so confused, so upset. Who was this person who had been our childhood friend? Who was this man who had grown up on the same street as the other men in the group? How did he lie like this and why? Unfortunately, almost nine years later, I still don’t have any answers. I still have no idea how nobody ever caught him in one of the lies. How he was able to lead us on for so many years. How, even when he was completely wasted, out of his mind drunk, he didn’t tell a soul.
I was angry. I was so very, very sad. But more than that, I was livid. How could he do this to himself and to us? Over something that was so ridiculous! Nobody cared about his stupid GPA or what school he went to or what his profession was. All he would have had to do was say the word and we would have helped him- we would have given him everything we had if he had just given us the chance. Instead, he saw no other way than to leave the world. What a waste.
His funeral was relatively small. It was so hot- a sweltering day in August. Wearing black was torture. The whole day was torture. His family didn’t have any money, so he was in the plainest coffin there was. Sitting in the funeral hall, I just couldn’t believe that this huge man could fit into that small box. We all cried. We held each other. We sat by the newly covered grave and exchanged stories. We tried to put the confusing puzzle pieces together.
That day I had received the phone call from him was the last day he lived. He called each of us to say good-bye, us having had no idea that that’s what he was doing. That evening, he went down into the basement of his mother’s apartment complex and took as many prescription pills as he could in record time. I believe he took over 100, though I cannot recall the exact number. I do remember how the medical examiner was impressed. O had taken the pills so fast that his body didn’t even attempt to vomit anything up, it just stopped functioning. He was determined and got the job done. He was found a few days later.
Still, I am left with the ‘if’s. What if our phone conversation had gone differently? Was there something- anything- I could have said to change his mind? What if he had trusted me more? If only he had said something or even hinted at something. If only one of us had been more persistent and gone to class with him one day. If only everything had been different.
I am also left with many memories. He gave the biggest hugs, like I imagine a bear would. He used to tell me that I sounded too throaty when I sang (which made me angry, of course) He could be a pain to have around sometimes. He could be so great to have around sometimes. One year he spent Christmas Eve with me and my family. We went to church together, he had dinner at our house. My parents loved him because he was so well mannered and a great conversationalist. Such an intelligent young man.
I used to go to his grave at least once a week. The family couldn’t pay for a tomb stone, so our group of friends got together and bought one. Going there helped me get over the anger, but the sadness and questions remained.
Life is like that. We don’t get to do things over. The day I heard about his death, Coldplay’s song ‘The Scientist’ was playing. It was the perfect song for that day and I played it over and over. Any time it comes on the radio or my iPod the memories all come back. It is his song now. Even after almost nine years, I remember it all as if it were yesterday.
Nobody said it was easy
Oh, it’s such a shame for us to part
Nobody said it was easy
No one ever said it would be so hard
I’m going back to the start
Excerpt from ‘The Scientist’ by Coldplay