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Thursday, September 4, 2008

Today I Learned of Suicide


I found out some heartbreaking news today from a long lost friend (praise Facebook for the reunion!). Our old friend Randy committed suicide.

It happened in 1995. I had no idea.

I left my hometown almost 20 years ago and have been back only twice in recent years. Not because I don't love it, I simply have no family there anymore. I still consider it "home." My so called formative years were spent there. I fondly recall our close circle of friends.

We were a mixed bag of kids who came from various cliques and backgrounds. A common sense of folly and intellect brought us together. We were smart (though not geekily so), athletic (though not in that annoying jock way...and for the record, I was not one of the athletic ones), and ambitious (college was a shared goal and expected milestone). We used to go swimming, have parties, devour movies, eat doughnuts, and dance. We laughed until our bellies ached (doughnuts being a contributing factor) and shed tears over the maelstrom of life's uncertainties and curveballs that come our way in our teens.

Randy was the most earnest and thoughtful of the gang, keeping a watchful eye on me since he was a few years my senior. His smile was grand and popped whatever funk bubble enveloped you. He was often the voice of reason among the rowdy grain alcohol experimenters and skirt chasers. His spirit was kind, mature, charming, and sensitive. And don't think for a minute that there wasn't a healthy dollop of mischief tossed in.

I've been out of touch with those old friends for decades now. Once in a while I catch myself grinning over a fleeting memory from back in the day. Back in the day when friends sat around til the wee hours talking about our futures, how unfair our parents were, the cities we wanted to visit, who was breaking our hearts, and where to go on the next beer run with a fake ID. Back in the day when friendship came with no obligations, judgments, or competition. Back in the day when we were young and foolish. Back in the day when we had not tasted our own mortality and no idea that we were anything but invincible.

Randy went on to teach high school history, he was a captain in the Army National Guard, and a volunteer at crisis counselor centers in town. On paper and in life he was accomplished and
admired. He would blush and say something self-deprecating if he read this.

I am deeply saddened for the loss of an old friend, even a friend with whom I had lost touch. My heart physically hurts from the news. I am not writing to seek answers, point fingers, or uncover regrets. I simply want to remember a friend who touched me.
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3 comments:

foolery said...

Ilina,

Very sorry for your loss, even if it was distant. Suicides can be haunting. I hope your writing of excellent essay helps you through this recent information.

Sincerely,

Laurie @ Foolery

mommypie said...

I'm so sorry. Our Prom King committed suicide a few years back and shocking doesn't even scratch the surface.

Foolery put it so well. Haunting. No matter the distance.

Documentors said...

To our friend, Randy.

gm