Walk into her room, turn on the light, open the boxes we have of the things we kept, start taking a few things just to hold for one or two seconds, looking, thinking, remembering, smelling a shirt, seeing a picture, remembering her smile while I forget my own. Thinking about her laughter as mine slowly fades away. This is life as I do not want to live it. I have no choice though. All I can do is go through each day as it comes, go to sleep at night if I can, and take whatever the next day will bring.
This is life broken and shattered. This is life the way it is not intended to be.
I have not said it in a while, but this is still life where I have no idea what tomorrow will bring. I do not know if I will sleep tonight. I do not know if tomorrow I will be productive. I do not know if I will even leave my bedroom tomorrow. I have been told in the same day that “I use too many smiley faces in my posts” and that “I was so depressing that a person almost dreads seeing my next post”. I can only imagine the bipolar nature of the life we now live as a family, the waves of emotions as they roll in, pass us, and then hit us again as they wash back out coupled with Facebook’s random sorting (sorry Facebook, but that is random, there is no logic to how you sort that garbage now) can make me seem very strange to some.
So this one time, I was hacking a Gibson (inside joke)
I can sum my rules of life up for you in some very simple ways. I came up with these rules by growing under a pretty specific set of circumstances. For one thing, I was an 80’s and 90’s computer geek. Notice I did not say nerd. Geeks were quite different. Nerds were known in the world they lived in as being nerds. I hung out with the metal/punk/skater crowd. I was part of a small group of what you would refer to at the time as “hackers”… even though that word at that time was very negative. In recent years, it is becoming somewhat respectable again, I suppose. A lot of I knew did know that about my life at home. It is almost like you would see on a movie now… The kid without glasses, with a weird haircut, and color… sitting there clacking away at his keyboard. If I was at home, that is where I was.
We ran one of the first BBS (Bulletin Board System) to internet mail gateways in our area that we referred to as NAZZnet. We ran some very exclusive h/p/v/a/c (hacking/phreaking/virus/anarchy/cracking) BBSes. For the most part we listened to Nine Inch Nails, Fugazi, Black Flag, Antischism…things you may have never heard of… Eventually I moved on to things like PWEI and KMFDM and MDFMK. I was in a band, several actually. For the most part, they all stunk. I was in one band that for our ages, absolutely rocked, and did really well. We played with an Atlanta band called Stuck Mojo. I will never forget them saying we sounded like “both old and new Faith No More, with jazz, Metallica and Slayer” thrown on top. We had good times.
And so begins life with suicide
What I did not let a lot of those friends know was that when I went to Dreher High School, I was there for a reason. I will skip the “growing up in the ghetto” part of my life. It matters none in this story. Eventually I landed at A.C. Flora High School. By the time I just decided to stop going, and hung out by the road and sat on a log until my ride would pick me up every day, I had been through 8 or 9 suicides. All of them were close friends. This did not end when I went to Dreher. Before I got to that school, one of my friends went there and he was taken by suicide shortly afterward. Getting moved there was kind of hard, but he really was not there long enough to make friends. I did not find out until a few months ago actually that one of my good friends from that school was closely related to him.
The bad thing is though Dreher was not the end. I continued to lose friends. Not just in school. By the time I was 21, the total number of friends I had lost to suicide was 19. Not counting car accidents, or anything else that may have happened. There are so many I can remember faces, sometimes I can remember first names… but in many cases all I remember are faces.
I stopped going to memorials. I stopped going to funerals. I really just wanted all of it to stop. I was angry at them. I felt cheated. I felt like they were selfish.
On September 22, 2015 I woke up late. I was rushing to get the boys ready for school. I asked my youngest if he could help by going to wake up Chaney. I could hear him getting frustrated with her. She would not wake up for him. I started to walk to her bedroom, as I got closer I caught this smell. It is a chemical smell. I cannot describe it. There is literally no other smell like it that I have ever experienced, except upon the death of my mother, the death of my father, and the death of my grandmother. As soon as I walked into that smell, that wall, I yelled for Morgan to run to me. As soon as I got close enough to him I moved him to the side and ran to Chaney.
I do not remember much of that morning. I do, and I do not. I remember the panic. I remember the fear. Because of that smell, I remember the feeling of utter hopelessness. I never gave up hope, but I knew what that smell was. She changed me in a way that I never knew I would change. A lot of those simple rules that I talked about (I will get to them) are gone. Some of them are still there, and they are still cut and dry…but the list is much shorter.
The kitten and the beast
You would think with my list of life rules being shorter that life would be easier. She took all the anger that I had for all 19 of my previous losses and just took it away. I learned what they actually went through. I learned that not one of them actually decided to do what they did. I learned that every one of them struggled with an illness or trauma. I learned that every one of them went through the deepest of pain. I learned that every one of them is someone to be proud of, because ultimately every one of them showed strength that is unimaginable to me. Whether you will understand or agree with that statement is up to you. You do need to understand that the decision to take your life is easy, just believe me when I say it. Everyone makes it at some point. Everyone considers it. It being a decision is not even the issue. A decision is just a thought, and this one in particular is usually one you go back on.
When someone actually goes through with it though, you need to know that it was not a decision. The ability to literally destroy yourself, though, takes a strength that most people simply do not have. It takes a serious illness or trauma to bring you to the point of possessing enough strength to reach that point. I am in no way admiring people who take their own lives. My life’s dedication is to avoid that outcome for anyone that I come into contact with even in the small “thinking” stage. I just want you to understand that the thinking stage, and the real event are two very different creatures. One is a kitten… the other is a beast. Hopefully we can become better assessors and start catching more kittens before they become beasts.
Since September 22, I went through all of this time thinking that my total number of losses was 20. I have teetered on considering it being 21, because my second loss was Jennifer Garner, who was pregnant at the time of her death. I am not sure how I should look at that. I found out a few weeks ago that there are 21 though. Going through videos of the first real celebrity “crush” Chaney ever had, I found a Markiplier video of him just a day or two before Chaney left us. He mentioned the name Daniel Kyre. I looked up Daniel Kyre, and found that he lived somewhere on the West Coast (I do not remember where exactly now). He was talking about a friend of his who had taken their own life. It took me a couple of weeks to connect the dots.
What really cemented it in was watching a friend’s band on Facebook, Villa*Nova (hopefully we will have something from them in the Rise Against Stigma and Suicide project soon!). I was just going through their vocalist/guitarist’s videos and I found another band playing one of Villa*Nova’s songs. This was a song that I requested from the original band for Chaney that they originally recorded under contract with another label that cannot be used. They were performing it in memory of Daniel Kyre. I do not know if that recording were made in Columbia, SC or somewhere on the West Coast but it really set the cement.
This is a lot to go through just to see a list of my life’s rules, right? I know… but even for a short list, I want there to be some explanation of why things work the way they work for me.
My life rules:
- Judge not, lest ye be judged yourself. People are people. Color, sexual preference, religion, opinion, sexual identity, language, height, disability…nothing makes you better than anyone else.
- I do believe in forgiveness. I do not believe in being a doormat. You basically have 3 chances. When you wipe your feet on me for the third time, I will let you know not to come back to my front door.
- Be kind but do not allow yourself to be used.
- If you see a person who could use your help, do anything that you can do to help them. If you end up late to work, or missing something because of it… and the other party cannot understand, they are not worth the time it took to talk to them. I pulled a woman out of an overturned SUV in the middle of Two-notch Road in North-east Columbia. She was t-boned so hard that she was standing upright in the back. It knocked her out of her shoes. She was covered in blood. I ended up covered in blood. The amount of cars that I saw just drive by was stupidly insane. After I got her out, I had to climb in, because she told me her child was in the car seat in the back. The vehicle had caught on fire. No one else stopped. When the firetruck and police arrived, they were both on the side of the road with me. The SUV was engulfed. I don’t know if my ex-wife will ever forget me coming home that night late. I just went to Taco Bell to get dinner… and came home with cold food, and in shock… I have no idea how that would have gone down had I not been “the one” to stop. Always be the one.
- Do not shove your beliefs down the throats of others. You honestly have no idea what they believe. You just may end up sounding like a fool, and an overly-righteous one at that. I get this a lot… especially from some pretty specific people who know absolutely nothing about me. You have no idea what I believe in as far as “religion” is concerned, but you certainly have no problem telling me what I do “not believe in”. That is condescending, rude, and unnecessary. Basically, you are passing judgement without having any knowledge of what you are judging.
- Do not push against me. I am going to turn suicide prevention on it’s head before I am done.