I did not expect to ever write this post.
My cousin Patrick took his own life this week. I heard about it on Tuesday night. Then I woke up before my alarm on Wednesday and was sobbing before my eyes were open. That was a first.
Most of you likely to read this post know that this is not the first person I’ve known that has committed suicide. It is, however, the first FAMILY MEMBER. That feels different. In the other cases, I’ve been able to just say, “Fucked up people find each other” and move on. That doesn’t seem to work this time.
I think I’m supposed to talk about how much I liked Patrick. I have no idea if he knew how cool I always thought he was–he was of the older set of cousins, and most of them would be stunned to know how much my end of the generation looked up to them. I remember being a kid and seeing him smoking a cigarette and thinking smoking was cool for the first time. (Because, let’s be honest–it is. And Patrick looked like a bad-ass doing it that day.) I don’t think I ever told him that–he wouldn’t have thought much about it if I had, probably. I think I’m supposed to talk about how we had a shared love of British comedy, and how I really only own the Red Dwarf books because I knew Patrick had read them and I wanted something to talk to him about at Thanksgiving the next year. And I think I’m supposed to talk about how hard I often worked at family gatherings to get a seat at the adjoining table to Patrick, because I knew he’d say something funny and I wanted to hear it. And I think I’m supposed to talk about how even last year when we were at his mom’s funeral (Aunt Shirley), he was STILL cool. He looked great in that suit, worked the room almost as well as a politician you’d DEFINITELY vote for, and even talked to me about how great Father Ted is, and how it still holds up. And I asked him if he’d ever seen Black Books, and he said no, but he’d check it out. I will never know if he checked it out.
I think I’m supposed to talk about all that. But I don’t know what to think.
I don’t know what broke inside of Patrick. I won’t share the details that I know–it doesn’t seem right to post that. But I do know that this is the last thing I would’ve expected of him. I knew he had his demons. I knew he kept his cards close to his chest on a lot of things. But what he did on Monday night is not any version of Patrick that I knew. What he did on Monday night made him feel a whole lot less cool, and what the hell am I supposed to do with these Red Dwarf books now? And why don’t I want to smoke anymore?
My dad had tried to call me to give me the news. I was having dinner with a friend talking about a photo-project we’re working on together this month, and I ignored the call. My brother–thank God for him–texted me asking, “Have you heard the news yet? You okay?” and Tara had to sit there across from me in an Applebee’s and watch me get that phone call. No one should have to get that phone call in an Applebee’s, and nobody should have to sit across from someone they’ve known over a decade and watch the realization cross their face. First thing I did was text my dad. Next thing I did was text a handful of people from my church group–and within minutes, I had about a half-dozen people from Pursuit asking me if I was alone or if I wanted to come over or if I wanted to call. Thank God for them, too.
I got home and was there alone for a few beats before Jeremy walked in and he listened to me talk. I have no idea what I said. But I’m at least relatively sure there’s a “thank God” for him in there, as well. I called off from work and went to bed around 4…and I think that brings us up to the start of the post.
I’m tired and angry, and the whole damn world got a lot less cool this week. The rain and tornadic weather in St. Louis would seem appropriate if I gave a shit about it. I keep finding myself attempting the mantras that are supposed to get you through these things, and then I find myself in tears because mantras are just words and Patrick’s still dead, and a lot of people don’t understand how important that is. In fairness, if you’d told ME how important that would be on Monday morning, I would’ve thought you were over-stating it. “Patrick and I weren’t all THAT close,” I’d have said.
It doesn’t really matter how close you are. When a member of the family kills themselves, a piece of you dies with them.
The memorial is tomorrow. I have no idea what that’s going to feel like. I do know I’m not looking forward to it. I mean, I guess no one looks forward to ANY memorial…but at least you usually have the thought of “well, it will be nice to see the family, anyway.” All I can think is, “What am I supposed to say to Benny?” First Shirley last year…now Patrick this year…what am I supposed to say to Benny?
I’ve been alone a little too long today, I think. I had planned on working from home, but my Internet connection has been spotty with the weather and I’m typing this in a Notepad file instead. (If you’re reading it, then success!) Didn’t realize how much I’d miss working on claims today.
I can not overstate how grateful I am for the people who’ve been going out of their way to check in and see how I’m doing. If I’m able to answer, “I’m doing okay,” it’s only because they’ve been there. And I’m doing okay. As you can see in the above, I don’t have it all together at the moment…but I’m okay. And I’ll keep being okay.
Thanks for taking the time to read this. I know it’s one of those things that not everybody likes reading. This is a terrible, shitty week and it’s nowhere near over yet. When I said I hoped I’d blog more soon, this is definitely not what I had in mind…but I’m grateful for the outlet.
Hoping to write something happy soon.