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A Stormy Reflection
I sat and watched the rain fall from the clouds. At first I couldn’t comprehend why I felt so alone this night, but then I realized a long ago memory prodded at my mind, a memory I would much rather try to forget. After pushing this memory of a night so long ago from my mind every night for the last two years, I finally gave in to my mind’s temptations. The whistling sound of the wind matched my miserable mood as I reflected on that night that changed my life forever.
It had been a simple enough day, where nothing really important had happened. I had planned a sleepover with a friend, and was at her house watching television with her and her sister. We laughed and joked about stupid things, not having a care in the world. I miss the days I could laugh leisurely and not think about what my actions might cause. I miss the days I could speak without fear of someone thinking I do not care. I miss the nights I slept blissfully ignorant in my bed, waiting for the next days little surprises that life brings.
My friend and I decided that things were getting a little too boring for our tastes. We liked fun, adventure, and the thought of wasting the day away just acting like the younger teenagers we were back then. Back when we still acted like children and talked like children. Back when the only fear we had was of not running fast enough across a nearby intersection of streets. Or missing the bus. Both things are pretty small compared to the near-tragedy that brought my childish whims to an abrupt end.
We played around at a nearby lake, walking across the rocks that dotted the nearby river and traveled upwards until we reached a deserted quiet pond, where we pondered stupid things like what was to happen in the anime we were obsessed with at the time. We reached lame conclusions and made up random funny situations in a game of “wouldn’t that be funny if…” watching the fish swim in the pond and listening to the frogs nearby croak loudly. Soon getting fed up with our lakeside conversations we moved on to other things when a thought crossed my mind.
We were halfway across a long field of grass separating the nearby buildings with the lake when I blurted out, “We should go find Thomas!” My friend paused for a moment, and then a grin spread to her lips as she readily agreed.
Now knowing exactly where we were going, we were off to find our other best friend within seconds of the short spontaneous conversation. A bad feeling welled in the pit of my stomach, but as all stupid children do, I ignored it and trudged on with simple-minded glee that we were going to spend time with one of my once-favorite people.
We reached his house and knocked on the door, both of us grinning to the other as I called out, “Thomas!”. But when the door opened it wasn’t Thomas standing there waiting to greet us. It was his pale skinny mother, her eyes red and her cheeks flushed as she pulled me into a hug shaking hard. Shock overwhelmed me then, as I realized that he wasn’t there, it was his mother that answered.
“Oh I’m so glad you’re here. I’m so glad!” She whimpered in my ear.
I froze in surprise, my arms halfway around her to accept her embrace as the words hit me. “Where is he?” I asked, meeting my friend’s twin look of surprise.
I was dumbfounded. “Gone?” I repeated dumbly, and she took my shoulders taking me inside. My friend followed, both of us looking direly confused.
“He’s in jail.” She elaborated finally, wiping tears from her cheeks. I began to shake, my blood freezing inside my veins.
“Why’s he in jail?” My friend finally whispered, her voice barely reaching past the sudden roaring in my ears. It couldn’t be true. Not what I think she was implying.
“He attacked me… because I found. I f-found…” Her voice broke off as she shuddered, remembering whatever it was that she couldn’t yet tell us. Somehow I already knew, at least suspected what she was getting at.
“You found…?” I finally asked my voice dull and emotionless. Surprising, considering the overwhelming shock and fear that ricocheted through my body in waves.
“The suicide letters.” She said, her eyes finally meeting mine.
I heard the gasp that came from my mouth, and the little muffled noise of agony that escaped my friend at about the same time. I remember sitting down quickly, losing all feeling in my body. Then my eyes clouded over and the tears spilled over my cheeks, as his mother continued sympathetically.
“I didn’t know how to contact you. I guess I wouldn’t know what to say anyway. I just know that I went into his room, I was suspicious you know, of how he’d been acting lately. I saw the letters, and I read them. I didn’t know what to do. Then he came around the corner and started yelling… and then he attacked me.” She looked pained, but not in a physical way. She felt like someone that had gone through the same emotional train-wreck that I seem to have suffered.
“Why would he do that?” My friend asked at the same time I questioned softly,
“What did they say?”
His mother smiled a little smile as she said, “I don’t know why. He just said in his letters that Collette, you mean the world to him. You’re the two best friends he could ever hope for. He just had to let go, he had to end his pain. So he was going to go to the bridge and hang himself from it.”
The bridge that crossed the lake had once been a warm memory for me. It included the good days when my friends and I all sat on it, talking of our days and swinging our legs over the deep blue green water below. I remembered a time Thomas had jumped off the bridge in the summer into the frigid water below, joking about how cold it was. I can recall how we laughed then, and had embraced that bridge as part of our childhood.
Now it was just a nightmare waiting to happen.
I remember when we left that night, shell-shocked to our cores promising to come see Thomas soon when he arrived from jail. And we did. But not after a long intense night that we cried and mourned the end of what was once a wonderful friendship. Even though he is still alive, I sometimes still think of him as dead. Sometimes I think of what could have been had his mother not found out his plans and he would have followed through with it.
Sometimes I find myself wishing that I could just get over the pain and embrace the fact he’s still alive and needs me as his friend and confidant. But most of the time I find myself almost seeing right through him, at least the days that I see him. He doesn’t come around me anymore, I think he knows how much his near-tragedy had broke my heart and shattered my trust. It takes a lot of to love someone, and you don’t always know how much they mean to you until they’re gone.
I know he probably thought differently when he wrote those letters, and I don’t believe he was stupid for doing so. In fact I don’t believe that he did it for attention, or that he was wrong for what he had planned. I think he was just miserable and crying out for attention that I hadn’t realized he needed. There’s two viewpoints to what he planned and what I thought about it, but I never disrespected him for it. I just don’t understand. He probably will never tell me his view on it either considering I know for a fact I could never understand what he was going through, or what he thought.
Reliving the night is hard, but moving on is harder.
I look up at the night peeking faintly through the clouds and realize it’s not raining anymore. No matter how cliché it sounds, I’m relieved that the rain has stopped falling, and that the storm has lifted. I press a hand to my heart, beating softly in my chest, so calmly that I barely feel it and smile gently.
Thomas isn’t Thomas anymore, he’s a new person. But at least that new person has new friends and a new life. He’s moved on since the incident and seems to have found his own happiness. I’m happy for him, and I sincerely hope that the happiness stays with him always. I’m glad he didn’t die young, because he has so much to live for, and many days ahead of him.
With that thought, I head off to bed and close my eyes, the smile still barely gracing my lips as I whisper, “Goodnight Thomas.”
I’ll never forget you.
A brush with a death of a friend has taught me one thing, suicide is a serious thing, and not to be taken lightly. If a person is suffering, then reaching out and helping them is the right thing to do. I know that if I had just spent a little bit more time with Thomas, or if I had just looked for the signs, then I could have somehow helped him. Because of that I want people to be aware, to watch out for any odd behavior like talking about dying or how they want to die, or changes in how they act and talk to people. Sometimes the loss of a pet or family member or parents separating can even set off suicidal impulses. People with low self-esteem and no hope for the future (like talking about living in a box on the street, or in their cars with a donut on the back wheel) are at the most risk because they already feel like they “aren’t good enough” when in reality everyone is good enough for society. It just takes some pride, good friends, and looking at the good side of life.
If I could help just one person get through an especially hard day, then I’d feel like I accomplished something. So I am going to go out and talk to others, and try to help those who need the support and attention the most. The most important thing about this whole narrative however was that Thomas never showed any signs of committing suicide besides those hidden letters that were meant to be found after he was already dead. Sometimes people don’t show signs that they are considering it. That’s why a little kindness to everyone goes a long way. It’s not always easy to be strong for others, or nice. I know that. But even a smile can brighten someone’s mood.
There are suicide prevention hotlines everywhere, like 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433) or some other ones. I highly suggest calling if a friend is acting strangely, or talking about death. Getting help for someone else is never ruining their lives. They’re crying out for attention, and they need the help. Suicide is serious, and it’s never funny.
I can look back and appreciate the memories that I have, but things are different. I can honestly say that if I could shield one person from that shattering pain, just one person, then I’d feel like I accomplished a goal in life. From now until the rest of my life, I plan on dedicating my life to justice and helping others. I’m not implying that everyone should do the same thing; I am just simply stating that I can change this experience into something great. I’ve begun cherishing every moment that I am with my loved ones, because there’s always that thought in the back of my mind that I may lose one of them. I may never see one of them ever again. Maybe I can persuade others to do the same, maybe I can’t.
All I know is that tonight for the first time in a long time; I can close my eyes and sleep peacefully.