This week has been one of the hardest weeks of my life. After learning of the passing of one of my best friends, I've been left with a void in my heart that I can't find the words to describe. The emptiness that I now feel is tearing me apart and I'm struggling to find a way to fill it. I've tried being by myself. I've tried being with loved ones. I've tried getting together with the guys as a way for us to remember the good times and have a few laughs... and while I can mask how I feel on the outside with a "Remember when..." story that results in laughter, the truth is, I've never felt more dead inside.
While this is not the first time that I've had to experience the loss of a loved one, this one is different. I've been fortunate enough that I've only had to go through this two other times. The first was my great grandmother. While it was a difficult time, we could find peace in the fact that she lived a long, amazing life, and passed in her sleep.
The 2nd time was actually the father of my friend that just passed. Kirk's dad was like a 2nd father to me. He taught me things that dads teach their kids, because my father wasn't around. Changing a tire... changing the oil in car... different tools, how to play pool... these weren't hard and fast lessons that he sat us down and said, "You need to know how to do this." No... They were just things that he was doing and Kirk and I would be hanging around and he'd happen to be doing them. The little things you learn while living life. Unfortunately, he was diagnosed with an aggressive cancer that took his life, but we could find peace in the fact that he was no longer hurting.
But Kirk was different. There was no need for his untimely death at such a young age. No need for the world as we all know it to crush around us...
When I was just 11 years old my family moved from Mississippi to Indiana. It was a dot-on-the-map town that was too small to justify actually writing out the name. The high school had a whopping 200 kids in it... maybe, if the classes were large. By the way, that's not 200 kids for each grade- that's 200 kids total. It's the kind of small town where everyone knows everyone, and it's been that way since they were 4 years old playing tee ball together.
Enter, me. I skinny, lanky kid with glasses and high social anxiety. Unable to bring myself to actually talk to anyone, Kirk was one of the few people that went out of his way to make me feel welcome at a new school surrounded by new people. From that moment on, through middle school, high school, and college, we were inseparable. We did everything together. From going to the arcade at the mall for hours on end, to mowing lawns for extra cash as high schoolers, to graduating college and shopping for motorcycles and tinkering in the garage for all hours of the night, you'd find the two of us together.
God, we had an amazing time. The best time.
The past couple of years were a little different. I moved to "the big city" as the people call it where I grew up, for work, and he stayed back. When I asked if he ever planned to move, he'd simply ask, "Why?" Why indeed. Everything he knew and loved could be found in the town that he was raised in. "Dude, we're only an hour away from each other... we'll see each other all the time." We didn't.
There was no particular reason why. Because, life. I was working 80 hour weeks (on a good week) in public accounting and studying for the CPA exam in the few precious hours I had left outside of sleep. I had little social time at all, much less making time to drive an hour to go hang out with friends for a short period of time before driving an hour back. I just couldn't fit it in my schedule.
It kills me to think about that now. I couldn't fit it in my schedule? I couldn't fit it in my schedule!? Of course I could have... but I made excuses up because I did a shitty job of prioritizing my life. I put my career over my loved ones and now life is handing me a wake up call. A wake up call that comes in the form a lost loved one.
We'll never have another motorcycle ride together. We'll never share another cigar, try a new whiskey, play video games, or just hang out and have a laugh. There will never be another botched customization on a brand new motorcycle that we laugh at. My children will never have an Uncle Kirkie. No more Halloween parties. No more MotoGP races. No more bar fights. No more hugs.
On January 31, 2018, one of my best friends in the world, took his own life. I know few details outside of the general facts surrounding his death. He was in a dark place in his life, texting his girlfriend that he was going to shoot himself. I don't know what was said... if this was sparked by an argument or if he was just so depressed he tried reaching out. I have close friends on the local police force that say the conversation lasted 3 hours before she finally called the cops. By the time the police arrived, there was nothing that could have been done. Laying in bed, he shot himself in the chest, and made the decision to leave this world.
I'm furious at him. I hate him for it. I hate that he didn't call me.
And I'm furious at myself. I hate myself for having so much hatred towards someone that I love so much at this moment. I hate that I didn't make the time in my life to randomly call him. Maybe that would have made all the difference in the world to him. Maybe if I reached out to him more often, he would have seen how loved he was and could have pulled himself out of depression. But now we'll never know.
This isn't a call to bring suicide prevention to the lime light. My story won't change the world... it's a story that can be found among all of us, especially those in the military. This is a call for you to prioritize your loved ones though. Call your friends. Call your mother. Call your father. Call your grandparents. Visit them. Let them know how much you love them.
If friends call to hang out... make time for them. Don't put it off. Make the time.
If you're struggling with depression and having suicidal thoughts... tell someone. Tell your friends. Tell your family. Tell a therapist. You aren't alone. People from all walks of life have been your very same shoes. You have to actually tell someone.
Don't call someone up and say, "Hey, wanna grab a bite to eat?" and when they say they can't make it, take it as a sign that your life isn't worth it. Call them and tell them... "I'm in a dark fucking place and I need to talk." Let the people that love you know, so that you can get help. Don't leave them stranded on this Earth without you. Whether you feel it now or not, you are loved.
Any money that is made from this post will be donated to The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention in the name of Kirk.
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