Wish You Were Here

I thought about you today.

It’s that time of year.

I wish I could say that I look at the calendar and remember the date. But I don’t. It’s the commercials for the season finales on network TV that do it. Because that year, I missed all of them. I remember being mad that I’d missed the last episode of “Friends” for that season. And then I was mad at myself for being mad at such a trivial thing.

It started, for me, sitting in my future in-law’s basement. Your girlfriend, my best friend, called in the middle of the day. Told me I needed to come right now. I got in the car and drove and smoked and cried and drove some more.

Your brother was the first one I saw. His eyes like a couple of pulpy tomatoes, no words left, and we just kind of fell into each other while he sobbed. My best friend was sitting in a chair, and she was there, but she was no where near there. Her uncle gave me some details, but they didn’t stick, couldn’t stick for the first day or so. My friend and I slept in the same double bed that night. We both admitted we wished we believed in ghosts, willed you to be one. I was jealous of the sleeping pills the doctor had given her.

We went to your parents’ house. They vacillated between denial, mania and devastation. At one point, your mom’s knees just kind of gave out, and I was the nearest human body, and she grabbed for me, and cried quietly into my shoulder, and then asked me what my name was, again? Your brother and your girlfriend and I had picked some music for the service. “Wonderwall”, by Oasis. We even had a list of reasons why it was a good choice. That bishop from your parent’s church didn’t agree, said no way would they play something secular. Your brother told him to fuck off, sort of. Your mom started crying again. I went outside to smoke.

My friend’s mom flew in the day before the funeral. A crew of us went to the house you’d been sharing, to make it look more like the story my friend had been peddling, that you spent the occasional night there “because it was closer to work”, than the truth. We bagged your clothes up, and put away the meat smoker you’d insisted on buying, and when we had cleaned all around it and couldn’t avoid it anymore, we opened the laundry room door.

We put a poster over the hole in the wall that your brother had punched, right before he called an ambulance. I picked up the things the EMTs had knocked over, when they took you. And my stomach dropped out and I thought I was going to faint when I saw the ashtray. You knew it would take a couple of minutes, even with the towels you’d stuffed under the door, for the fumes to do their thing. So you’d grabbed your smokes, to pass the time.

My friend’s aunt, wordlessly, picked up the ashtray with its two butts, and took it upstairs, threw it out. And then we got on with it, and finished the laundry, and locked the door behind us, and I knew I wouldn’t be back, not for a long time.

I sat at your funeral, and I remembered the first time I met you, when I thought you looked exactly like your brother, but then once I knew you, you looked nothing like him. The first time you ditched us to go to the casino. The time when Owen and I broke up, for a bit, and you told me you were glad, and that you knew that made you an asshole, but you didn’t care, and I never did tell my friend about it. The time my friend was “missing” a bunch of money, but it wasn’t missing. The time you told her that it wasn’t a question of “if” but “when”, and how I didn’t want to take you seriously, but I knew you were.

I didn’t want to leave my friend. But I had to go home, back to work. We tied up as many loose ends as we could. Went to Canadian Tire and bought a new lawnmower. An electric one, this time. Her uncle took the gas mower. The EMTs were nice enough to hide it under the deck, so no one would have to see it. I was mildly horrified that no one just threw the fucking thing out. But I know, know for sure, that you would have admired the practicality of it all.

She’s OK, my friend, your girlfriend. She’s someone’s wife, now. And your brother is good, too. He gave his firstborn your name as a middle name. We’re not afraid to talk about you, it’s not taboo or anything.

Wish like hell it hadn’t happened.

The sadness fades a little, every year.

Still miss you, though.


28 responses to “Wish You Were Here

  1. It always amazes me how normal the abnormal can be, the mundane details that still have to be attended to, the weird way everyone seems to handle what you think would be unhandleable. You captured that feeling for me in what you wrote. I feel bad for anyone who is hurting enough that taking their own life seems like an option but I’ve always thought it quadruples that person’s burdens and lays them to rest on everyone else’s shoulders.

  2. powerful…seriously fucking powerful!

  3. Beautiful.
    I felt the pain.

  4. *hugs*
    Beautiful post.

  5. Sorry for your pain, my friend, no matter how small . . .

  6. Wow Ginny. Thank you for sharing this story. I know this wasn’t an easy one to write.

  7. So at what stage does the pain start to fade Ginny? It’s nearly two years since Stephen died and I still feel agonizingly raw

  8. Jesus, Ginny. This is fantastic – horrible but fantastic writing. It hits me in a personal way that I’m not really going to get into in a blog comment, but thanks.

  9. lost my best friend in high school to something stupid… and i remember the worst part was being with his family after it happened. i just couldn’t do anything to help them… you were an incredible friend to her.

  10. Such a sad story, Ginny, but of course they should always be shared. I’m very glad you’re friend is ok, and that eventually wounds slowly heal. In high school, we lost someone every year, and every year we were totally caught off guard. I couldn’t imagine, but I bet it would be a lot harder without friends like you.

  11. I’m sorry for your loss and that it still hurts. But the hurt is good in a weird way – it keeps the memories fresh. It enables you to write a beautiful post like this one.

  12. Also, I just want you to know that your post really effected me in a deep way considering the suicidal thoughts I’ve been having lately. The pain I would be causing my family and friends would be so great should I ever follow through on such a plan. Thanks for sharing this painful experience, despite how hard it must be for you…it’s really what I needed to read tonight.

  13. Speechless.

    Death of any loved one is painful. Going through that person’s things after they’ve died sucks ass. Having to clean up what happened before they were taken to the hospital is worse.


  14. I would leave a mroe insighbtul comment but I’m drunk and there’s a reason for that but basically yeah. It ‘s weird.

    One of my best friends killed himslf on purpose thirteen years ago. I don’t remember the day on purpose out of spite, but yeah. Around the time my TV shows ended. Exactly.

    I’m still mad at him, becauswe he was a total pussy.

    But that’s not why I’m durnk. It’s Pauls birthday, and he’s alive, and he never knew Drew.

    Fuck that guy.

  15. postsecret.com

  16. That was really beautiful – very sad story, I lost my HS best friend a few years ago suddenly. It took me back to those feelings. Thanks for sharing.

  17. hopefully writing out how you feel will help you to feel better.


  18. I still don’t have anything that can fit into words. That was powerful. I went through the same thing but can do it no justice like you did. Thank you for sharing this.

  19. Too many times.

    That was brilliant though, unfortunately.

  20. It’s the little details that are always so hard to forget…like the ashtray and towels. The ads that were running on tv. Constant reminders.

  21. I don’t cry too easily…

    That did it though..

    seriously touching…

  22. *mouth hanging open*

  23. formerly fun: It’s the real that seems the most surreal. Like, “How can these plates still be in the cupboard? We had these plates when he was still alive!”

    Nikki: Glad it came across.

    Loni: Thanks.

    faemom: Thank you.

    tysdaddy: Funny (not really), but I always thought of the whole experience as belonging to other people – my friend, his brother. It took years before I considered it a loss, on my part.

    blue: It wasn’t easy. I had to take so much out.

    nursemyra: I don’t know. It’s been 13 years since this happened. I think it’s proportionate to how long the person was in your life. Or maybe it’s just about the size of the imprint they had on your life, the degree to which you let them in. I hope it gets easier, soon, for you.

    FreeMan: Thank you.

    O.G.: Yeah.

    daisyfae: Thank you. One of the parts I omitted was that I stopped at my family’s house on the way there. My sister’s best friend had been killed the year before, and she had incredible advice for me, advice that made a huge difference for me and for my friend.

    Em: That’s what was so weird – no one ever died when we were young, so I had no frame of reference.

    Gwen: Thanks. And I’m glad. And damn, girl, your writing is kicking all kinds of ass these days! People, go click on Gwen’s link. Now.

    Kathleen: Hugs right back at you.

    Rass: I love Drunk Rassles. Yeah, when I first wrote it, it ended with “Still miss you, you spineless mother fucker.” The anger pops up, every now and again, I’m not gonna lie.

    GYL: It’s ok, we’re all good.

    kono: I like that site. (Are you saying this post should have gone there, instead?)

    vinomom: Thanks.

    Stephanie: It does. Every time.

    Will: I’m sure you could, but thank you.

    Xbox: Yes, sadly, this wasn’t the only time I’ve been through this, either. Just the first. Thanks.

    hereinfranklin: Maybe that’s why the time helps. Because every year means a few more of those “little details” are gone.

    cristin: Welcome, and thank you.

    Beej: I do hope, by now, you’ve closed that mouth, young lady…

  24. Sigh. They leave such an empty spot, don’t they? Beautifully written.

  25. I recently found your website actually through the “emails from crazy people” website and just fell in love with your writing. I love your sarcasm and humor. This post hit me. Hard. Thank you for writing it. Thankfully, I have never experienced what you’re writing about, but I know that I have my own struggles with suicidal thoughts. Reading this confirmed what I already knew: how much something that seems like escape hurts your friends and family. Thank you for writing about the fallout of someone else’s escape. I needed to read that. I’m sorry you had to experience all this, but know that it helps people to read it.

  26. What a powerful post. Thank you for sharing it. There are always those odd details that lodge in your mind.

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