When you're the kid that moved away, even as little as 90 minutes away, the phone calls you dread are the ones that start out with "You'd better get home." These never lead to a surprise birthday party or a new Mercedes or even a Powerball win. When you get those calls, you go cold, your chest tightens up, and the face of everybody you love flashes before your eyes. You know it's gonna be bad.
Today, in the middle of the $5 HORSE MTT at Full Tilt, my cell rings, and my niece's number pops up. Interesting, since she NEVER calls me, I always call her to see if she's okay, how her mom is, etc. "Are you sitting down?"
"You need to get home."
Fuck, my mother/father/brother/somegoddambody has been killed in a car wreck. "What's up?"
"Uncle Ed just killed himself?"
"Uncle Ed shot and killed himself a little while ago. Mama and Grandpa are over there now, but you need to get home."
The conversation continued, but all I think I said was "What" and "Why" a bunch. My uncle, who lived across the street from my parents in the house my grandfather built, had shot himself in the head in his bed while his wife took a load of laundry out of the dryer. In the less than five minutes between her leaving him sitting on the couch, going to the laundry, folding the clothes and bringing them back into the bedroom, he had shot himself in the temple and killed himself.
I can write that, I can look back and read that, and I'm still a little numb. When my brother Wayne died, it was a body blow. I crumpled, collapsed and absolutely fell to pieces. This is different. Not the least of which reasons is the thirteen years since I've lived there and seen Ed every single day, but also because I don't know how to react. I have no frame of reference for this.
I understand death and dying. I hate it, lots, but I understand it. My parents were 40 and 44 when I was born, so death of grandparents, uncles and older relatives has been a fact of life since I was small and my great-aunt Julia who spoiled my terribly died when I was about 9. I was a volunteer firefighter when I was in high school, so I understand accidental deaths. I saw enough traffic accidents to understand that there are no reasons why some people walk away from horrific accidents and some people die in what looks like minor accidents. But I don't understand the taking of one's own life. I've never been here before. I've never been angry with the deceased just for dying before. And I am pissed. I loved Ed. A lot.
His youngest son, Morris, is just a couple of years younger than me, so we were inseparable growing up. Probably because I grew up out in the country and he was the only other kid anywhere close. We had to be inseparable, we were all there was within a 3-mile radius. So I spent countless afternoons and evenings at their house, or Morris at mine, when we were kids. We played in the barn, or in our peach shed. We played Nintendo, shot BB guns, all those kid things that you do. And we did them over the landscape of our two yards. So he wasn't a second father to me, but he was a very close uncle. My father never took me fishing, but Ed took me and Morris. He taught me how to clean a fish, helped me learn to shoot - you know, boy stuff like that. Carol Ann, Morris' sister, played ball with us, helped me learn (kinda) how to hit a ball, that kinda shit.
But now he's killed himself. Done. Over. Ship it. And I don't understand.
But that's a lie. I do understand. More than I want to admit. I've been where he was, I just never took the final step. Sometimes, that beast is tough. Some people fight that monster every single day for years. And sometimes they kill the beast. And sometimes the beast kills them. I fought my beast, and I killed him better than 10 years ago, but I still remember what it feels like to sit in the dark and cut yourself, not deep, just deep enough to bleed. And hurt. So that you can feel something outside when inside you are so dry and dark and empty that you think you might never feel anything again. I remember how you don't even think about what it will mean to anyone else, how all you can think about is maybe, just maybe, this will make it stop hurting so goddamn bad for a little while. Or maybe you can make it stop hurting forever. And all the while, that beast is sitting in the corner whispering to you, whispering that it can all go away, it can all go away right now if you just do it.
It goes away eventually anyway. If you can beat your beast. I beat mine midway through college. Don't even remember when. It wasn't like some great morning revalation of "I don't want to kill myself anymore," I just gradually got better. I stopped feeling empty inside, and haven't intentionally cut myself in more than a decade. Now all my scars have a different type of embarassing story, usually about getting distracted slicing lemons for a Corona or something. But I remember that beast, and I remember how strong that motherfucker can be.
Today, for just five minutes, the sonufabitch was stronger than my uncle. And I miss him, and I feel so bad for his family, and I am so sorry that none of us knew that he was even in this fight. Because look, there are so many people that have been there and suffered through depression and fights with so many different types of self-destructive behavior, I guaran-fucking-tee you that someone you know can help you if you're hurting. Just give them a chance.
So this may be the most disjointed post in my entire blog history, but I did preface some of this by saying that I'm in a bit of shock right now. Thanks for the folks on irc for the invisible internet hugs, and thanks to Daddy for playing out my stack in the MTT, 3 outta the money is better than I woulda managed for myself, so thanks. I'll try and put my thoughts in a more coherent form later, but honestly, this post wasn't really for anybody but me.