I didn’t want to write about this but I have accepted that everything else I try to write will be crap until I do. We all have our own ways of drawing the poison.
A good friend of mine committed suicide on Sunday. I found out about it Wednesday morning.
It was unexpected. Which is a dumb thing to write. Of course it was. But if I had to make a list of people I knew who would be liable to punch their own ticket, he would have been way down near the bottom.
Andy had a big personality. That’s vague but it’s the only way I could put it. You know how you know how someone has a big personality? When conversations are defined by their absence. Andy had more conversations take place about him when he was “off screen” than Harry Lime. Put two people who knew Andy into a room together and eventually their conversation would turn to Andy it was inevitable. He had an ability to manufacture adventure, as well as chaos, a sharp sense of humor and a huge heart. Stand him in front of any vertical surface and he would scale it with his freakish simian feet. He posted numbers that would make Wilt Chamberlin envious. Taught me how to smoke. Once stole a life sized advertisement of the movie Barbershop and stashed it in a horse stable for a space of two years. Introduced me to The Beach, Youth In Revolt, Pulp Fiction, Jurassic 5, The Vandals and a bunch of incredibly shitty jam bands. In short he was a good friend. At a time when I needed one very, very badly.
Eventually we drifted apart. It would be a comforting lie to say that distance was responsible for it, we didn’t live anywhere near each other for most of the year, but it wasn’t. We had a few arguments in the last year of our friendship. Nothing serious enough to end it, but serious enough to make a dent. We parted at the end of that summer on friendly terms, but terms markedly cooler then we had before nonetheless. After that, a few phone calls, a couple of letters, when talking to someone we both knew I’d ask after him, (like I said it was inevitable that at some point the conversation would turn his way) and that was that for five years.
And then this summer something funny happened. I had not one but two fairly random encounters with the man, once in person and once on the phone. Neither were long, I’d be surprised if either topped fifteen minutes, so it would be an exaggeration to say that we fully reconnected, but both were good. Catching up, talking about old times, trying out a few of the old in jokes and being delighted to find that they still worked. Both times I walked away struck by the fact that it was still just damn good to see him.
I didn’t get any hint of what was coming. I don’t know if I should have. Both of the conversations were fairly superficial, perhaps if we had had a chance to talk longer I would have picked up on something. Probably not though. It wasn’t as if he was closed off, but you saw what Andy wanted you to see, and unless you knew him very well he did not let you past the surface. I had heard from some mutual friends that he was having some problems, but nothing specific.
I have had many emotions since his death. Grief as well as a fair amount of anger. But now I feel just burned out with a hollow sort of acceptance. I wish that I hadn’t lost touch with him so completely in those last five years. I wish that I had picked up on what he was going through. I wish I had just randomly invited him down here to Austin for a week of eating and drinking. I wish he had not done it. I wish a lot of things. But I’m left with what is. Speaking from personal experience suicide isn’t something that anyone can talk you out of but yourself. Andy didn’t.
So I’m left here, a couple thousand miles and a plane of reality away. With a blog post in the place of a funeral I will be unable to attend to provide what little closure it can. I love and miss you my old friend. The world is a poorer, less interesting place with you gone from it.
But I am not without hope, that some good will come from this, even if I cannot yet understand what that might be. Certainly more good has come into my life through knowing you than any bad (Though the cancer sticks were a bitch to quit). I end with the last line of my favorite poem,
“I say this not out of sorrow, but in wonder.”