Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Dona eis requiem

It's only in reflection, looking back, remembering. But I was in love with a man, once. In college, I had few friends but some very close ones. One, who I thought was close, betrayed me in betraying himself. Yes, he was trying to be a friend, I guess, but his demons got the best of him. And he seduced me. With all the struggles going on in my head and soul, this is NOT what I needed.

Then there was another friend. We lived across the hall from one another, with many of the same likes and dislikes. We shared a lot of things. But how was he different as a friend? How did I know he was a true friend? He could get mad at me and tell me what he thought and still be my friend. I knew there was something very real there.

After college, I worked a couple of years before returning to grad school. We kept in touch. He was already in grad school, and we both had time off after Christmas which we spent together. His household was crazy as mine, so we'd get together and travel a bit.

Then, when I entered grad school, we were in the same metro area, so we could get together. Then, he did an internship (as part of school) that called him to live out of town, some. We would get together on the weekends in the little town where he was living. We camped, we cooked, we played. But never like that.

I think I had shared with him some of my struggles, but he did not share his. I only found out a little bit later. After it was too late.

He left some hints, here and there. But I never followed through. If he had uttered one little word, one slight inkling, I would have been in his arms, in his bed, and in his life. Perhaps to this day.

If only I had just grabbed him and ravaged him. If only. But I didn't, and it's too late.

I had no context. I didn't know how to be in love with someone, not like that. I knew I loved him, but like a brother, right? That's what it was about right? Now I see it was more.

One way I see it was more is that I still miss him. Deeply

But I was trying to "straighten out" my life. If we ever talked about "it", it wasn't much. I'm sure I tried to bury my struggles or gloss over them. I was going to be all right.

It has been over twenty years ago that he shot himself. And I still miss him, deeply. I can see his face, hear his voice, feel his chaste hugs.

He shot himself because he was so locked in so many closets he could see no way out. No friend who would understand (he thought). I was going off to get married. I thought I had it all worked out. Maybe he felt that was the last straw. I was going off to get married.

I do not take any responsibility for his suicide. He made his decision. I was and am still angry at him about that. How could he take himself away from me and our other friends like that. So permanently?

I miss him, and I pray for him every Sunday, still.

I have felt close to suicide a few times. But I think my memory of his suicide is what keeps me from it. I was (and am) so hurt. I don't ever want to do that to anyone. Now, I have children. I could never do that to them. I may go stark raving mad and have to be hauled off and institutionalized, but that would be more forgivable, more easily worked through.

At least then, there are possibilities. But not with suicide. No matter how low, how deep, how dark, how depressing it can get (and don't try to convince me yours is any darker than mine -- dark is dark) there is NO option worse than suicide. Nothing is more selfish.

I do not believe G-d condemns those lost in that darkness. That's never even been a question for me. And I know that I can somehow forgive him for what he did. But, oh G-d, I miss him. Deeply.

This is a sad post. In the midst of it though, I have hope for the future. The one thing I want to do now is LIVE. Live for me, for him, for the truth. Come what may.

I only wish we could have told each other the truth, he and I. I wish we could have seen it. Maybe, one day.

Agnus dei,
qui tollis peccata mundi,
dona eis requiem.


DEREK said...

wow this one really touched me! I don't believe God condemns those lost there either. Wishing you all the light in the universe!

Ur-spo said...

I agree with mr. derek, that was tender and touching.
Try not to get wrapped up in the 'what ifs' of times past. THey drive one mad with grief.
Focus rather on what can be done now to heal the wounds.
Keep going, you'll find a way.

bear said...

I've been there, on the "otherside" where the one I loved got married etc. I'm overwhelmed with sadness reading.
I don't think he blames you, it was the internal struggle like it was with me. You were a gift to him, a true friend, you loved each other, it was understood. It's hard for guys because we don't share our feelings with each other for fear of losing something we cherish, if those feelings are of a deeper love, the more difficult the struggle.
I think you'd best honor him by not focusing on the "what if's" but on the best things you remember about him - the "what was."
And then, to tell all the people you love, how you feel, just in case it's not clear next time around. Thanks for sharing this.

Steve said...

What a beautiful post, Joe-bear.

Wish I had a magic bullet that made it "all right" - but you know my story, the death of my friend and first lover, and you know that if I had a cure, I'd already have taken it myself...

I think there is nothing harder than trying to find good in the horror of a suicide. As you and I both know, the only thing I could gain from my first (and only) lover's suicide was the assurance that suicide was not the answer to anything.

And even so, when I'm in the depths of the depression, it's hard to remember that. Been there, got that t-shirt, too...

What I DO know - and what you are learning - is that every step you take toward self-honesty and self-acceptance honors your friend, Joe.

I find these words particularly appropriate...

This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the LORD your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the LORD is your life... (Deuteronomy 30:19-20a, NIV)

Brent said...

What an amazing post. Thanks for sharing, it hit home for me. Last year I was struggling with which path to take, I chose to come out to my wife this year. It's been difficult and I've thought about that other path several times, but I know I'm on the right path now.

Troll at Sea said...


There is nothing so difficult to understand as the suicide of someone you love. I know, I am still struggling to come to terms to deal with the death of the woman whose love I could not reciprocate. One of my closest friends lost her first husband to suicide and remarked with bitter clarity forty years later that the best way to hurt someone you love is to take that step.

What you must hold onto, Joe, is that you did love each other, and knew it, whether it was enough for your friend or not. You gave him what you could, and if you could give him more today, you cannot change yesterday any more than he could change his yesterdays before his act.

If Christ's descent into hell means anything, it means that he meets every soul that ends in hell and offers the same liberation -- the descent is not in time, but in eternity.

Peace be with you, now and always.

yr Troll

Brian said...

Even today, so many lost children are trapped behind barriers thrown up against who they are and they take the only way out they see how. Like you I've stood at that abyss. And that may be another reason why we live, Joe. To show that even at our age, even in our circumstances and as painful as it is for us and those close to our hearts, it's possible to step into the sunlight and stand with integrity and honour to ourselves and our loved ones. It takes uncommon strength and capacity to love, but life flourishes beyond those walls. I'm deeply sorry your friend couldn't find his way. But I'm grateful you and I and so many others did. Be at peace with that, sweet Joe.

George said...

A long time ago, I heard something about St. Teresa of Avila (died 1582), that would be relevant here. Unfortunately, I do not know where this is recounted, so I have no source.

Apparently, St. Teresa's brother, with whom she was very close, was among those from Spain who came across the Atlantic to the "new world." He died under unclear circumstances here, but it was suggested that he committed suicide. When the news was reported to Teresa, her prayer to God was, "Lord, if he had been Your brother, You would have done everything possible to save him."

These words always resonated with me (whether the story is true or not), and I thought I'd share them with you after reading this poignant entry.

Your words, "But, oh G-d, I miss him. Deeply" were very, very moving. So much said, in so few words. But in this case, the pain is a good pain: you wouldn't want to forget him. And I agree with Steve F. above: the best way to honor him is with your honesty and self-accpetance. This is what he would have wanted.

Lemuel said...

a beautiful post.

dona vobis pacem.

Paul said...


Please accept my sympathies for your loss, even though it was many years ago.

I pray that anyone that can see no future be given a friend.

walking, not falling said...

the shoulda-woulda-couldas are awful aren't they...the difficult part is to not allow them to become our flail to whip ourselves into a spiritual/emotional immobility/paralysis.

they still hurt, tho.


jim said...

I'm very sorry this happened.