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It seemed like it was a dream; I remember praying that it was. It’s hard facing reality when you are not ready. I still think about sitting up on the roof where it all took place, crying and asking myself why it had to happen. There’s nothing I can do now - he’s gone. I find it strange how I look for comfort in remembering how it happened. Normally, people don’t find a friend’s death comforting, but to me, that is what it has become.
No matter what I say about my friend, I don’t think it’s possible to put the impact of his life in the spotlight without leaving something in the dark. I met him when I was three years old on a visit to my grandparents. He was the only other child around, and from that moment on we were friends. As we grew up, our friendship and personal problems grew as well. I never fully understood all the complexities of his life, which is something I regret.
All he wanted to do that night was vent about the problems that were clouding his mind. Up on the roof, we sat talking until the rain started trickling down our necks. It silenced our conversation and enhanced the voices of the world below. I wish I understood the way the world works - the bliss and the heartache.
There are few events I can recall so clearly, but seeing my friend die plays over and over in my mind as if it were happening again. It was getting late, and I was ready to go in where it was warm and dry. I could hear in his voice that he was crying when he said “Good-bye.” At 14, he gave up on life.
I remember turning around and seeing him with a gun to his temple. As his eyes closed and I screamed, a flash of light appeared followed by a deafening silence. I stood there in the rain, quiet and cold. I watched as his blood mixed with the puddles around him, and then I ran to tell his parents. I went back to the roof after his body was removed, unaware of the weather or the time. I had already put what happened into words, but at that moment I began to cry, finally listening to my own words.
I found myself on that roof every night for the next two weeks. My life had changed. I didn’t know why I was there on the roof. There was no answer.
Even though I had witnessed his death, the idea of seeing his body at the wake made me feel sick. I knew that it would be the last time I would ever see him. I thought about letting the image of his body remain a mystery, but something compelled me to suppress my fears and look at him. He was wearing his black suit, a white shirt, and his deep blue tie, looking as if nothing had happened. I hated him. He lay there motionless, while I stood above him haunted by memories. His hair was combed nicely to one side, the wound in his head mended.
I could picture him smiling at me without a care in the world. Laughing in my face, he had indeed played the role of God. I hated him. He killed himself to let me know what he felt like when he was alive. I was listening now. He should have told me what was going on in his mind instead of placing a bullet through it. I hated him.
My thoughts were distorted by my own misunderstandings of what had happened. I never hated him; I loved him. He listened to me, he understood me, he cared about me - he was a brother.
If only I had listened to him I would have understood, but I lost that chance. I lost a brother, a friend. I lost the chance to talk to him again, to ride bikes together, to swim together. I lost it all. I can’t forgive myself for not being there when he needed me most. Even though I have learned to listen, when I’m in need, will someone listen to me?
My thoughts weren’t right for a long time after his death. I dreamed about all my friends putting bullets through their heads. Insomnia took over my nights. I couldn’t sleep without reliving those moments on the roof. From what little sleep I got, I would awake in a cold sweat with no outlet for the pain. It was as if I was being punished for something that wasn’t my fault.
No doubt I missed him, and I still do. Since then I decided to revive his soul and let it live the way it was meant to. It’s impossible to bring the dead back to life, but somehow I know he’ll always be with me. No matter how horrifying his death was, the image I have of him will never leave me. The more I tell his story, the more alive he becomes. I understand that I was not able to save his life that night on the roof, but by telling you this story, I preserve his life and our story, never letting him be forgotten. He was 14 years old, a great son, brother, and above all, friend.