Posted by barb on Nov 19, 2003 in Uncategorized |

During junior high and high school, I often thought about killing myself — I’m certain that a good part of that was due to winter depression (it was worst during winter), but part of it was just teenaged angst. In November 1989, though, a guy I had met a few weeks earlier killed himself. There is still some question about whether or not it was intentional — I find it easier to think that it was an accident. But his death, and how much it affected me even though I’d only known him for a short while, jolted me out of my own suicidal thoughts. Perhaps that sounds odd, since it might be more intuitive that I would become more depressed about life from his death, but instead it showed me how much my life might mean to other people.

I didn’t know him well. We met the first day of chemistry class, and he sat directly in front of me (at least after we talked a few times). He was a sophomore, I was a senior, and chemistry was considered a junior-level class (everyone else in the class was a junior). So we were both “misfits” in the class. We ended up being lab partners, and I remember that he talked in anticipation of the traditional Christmas lab in which we would make peanut brittle (with brand new lab equipment!).

On October 14, I hosted a “How to Host a Murder” party. Everyone came dressed up. I was in a taffeta dress I made myself, Mike was in a suit. I later found out that he and his mom had just picked out that suit the day of the party! He had kept telling his mom that he needed to go get something, but she kept putting it off. Then the day of the party arrived, and he still didn’t have a suit. They ran off to Sears.

On my 18th birthday, I later found out, he was in class early. When another student came in (I can’t remember her name, but she was the one who told me this after he dies), he got a huge grin on his face, dug into his pocket and told her that it was my birthday. He then pulled out the 18 lucky pennies he had collected for me, and proudly showed them to her. When I came in, he presented me with the lucky pennies. (I still have them in a scrap book.)

The first weekend of November, the Sadie Hawkins dance was held at school. Each day that week, I told myself that I was going to ask Mike to go. I felt my heart pounding when he would walk into the classroom. I tried to nerve myself up to it, but each day I chickened out, until the deadline passed to buy tickets. I told myself that I would ask him to the next dance.

The Friday after Sadies, Mike and I walked out of chemistry class together. We got as far as the staircase, and then he had to go up, I had to go down. He told me to have a good weekend, and I yelled back, “I’ll try.”

The week after Sadie’s, my church held a “murder mystery” party. I considered inviting Mike, but chickened out on that, too. I knew he liked me as a friend, but I was scared to ask him to parties and dances, because I didn’t know if he felt the way I did. The murder mystery party was on November 18, a Saturday.

Mike took his life on November 19. The very next day.

I’ll always wonder if it would have happened if I had invited him to that party. I know that I have no responsibility for his death. I know that if he was determined, there was nothing I could do to stop him (assuming it was intentional). But I still wonder. I can’t help it.

I occasionally find myself wondering what he would be doing now if he were still alive. He was very smart…almost as smart as me 🙂 He certainly could have done anything he wanted, but I find that I don’t remember what he said he wanted to do — not that he might not have changed his mind.

His wake was on Thanksgiving day. I hate Thanksgiving. I know that his family did it then because the whole family was already going to be around. But I now hate Thanksgiving. It’s not that I actively grieve anymore — I am over his death — but there’s still a pall over the day.

I found out at his wake that after my How to Host a Murder party, Mike had come home and told his mother how beautiful I looked that night. Beautiful. I think that was the first time any boy had ever said that about me. I bet he would have gone to Sadie’s with me.

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