Into the well of memory

I have lost an alarming number of people in recent years. Some say that this is because this is what happens as you grow older, and everyone grows older with you. I watch the generation of people around my father slowly dwindling away, fearing the inevitable. The generation before them nearly gone entirely. At times, it’s like looking at one of those animated population maps, with a few dots here and there, and then more and more, and suddenly they’re popping up everywhere, faster and faster, a dense blanket everywhere I look. People were always dying, I know, and they always will die, they just weren’t my people.

When I was young, most of the people around me died behind the wheels of cars. They died in car accidents because they were going too fast, or because they were hit by people who made the decision to drink and drive. Others died in drug overdoses, or in random accidents tied to the immortality of youth — the fall from great heights, the miscalculation of something that should have been easy and turned out to be fatal. More and more, though, these deaths around me seem either inevitable or senseless, though, not the result of choice or happenstance but of mortality. The friends who die of terminal illnesses, whether drawn out or short, sharp, and fast, these deaths are senseless and infuriating. They die simply because they are old, and their bodies eventually fair as their organs give way under stress and pain of decades. They die driving home from their late night jobs, nodding off at the wheel, when once, when we were young, we stayed up all night and could do it all over again with the next turn of the globe.

But there is one group, always, amongst my people, my deaths, the quilt of history I wrap around me, that has remained consistent: Those who have died because they made the choice to do so. I can’t say whether I know more suicidal people than others, and if so, why, but I do know — or rather, I knew — a lot of suicidal people, and I suspect that I will throughout my life. For various reasons, they’ve decided that their lives weren’t living anymore, and that only one logical choice was available.

They say a lot of things about suicide, and I really wish they wouldn’t. Because everyone is different, and what happens in the wake of death is always different as well. I’m not the only person I know who has considered suicide — who has even made plans to do so, who has wondered many complicated things about my life and the network of community around me — and my days of suicidal ideation aren’t buried in the past forever. I know this. I know that my network of crazy friends and I, we will constantly deal with the push-pull of complicated emotions and experiences that make us more likely to attempt, and succeed, at suicide. I understand how statistics and facts work, even with all the support in the world, because sometimes we are just lonely and isolated, and we shouldn’t be blamed or judged for it.

All I know is this: I loved, deeply, all of the people I have lost, no matter how they died. And I know this, too: I love, deeply, all of the people I will love, no matter how they die. And I will remember them all, pinpricks in the constellations that are my life.

But you, too, should know this as well: If you are in a time of darkness, I will be your star.

Today I remember Adrian, for he is no longer alive to remember himself.