For David

It is a sad day.

This morning I awoke to a post on Facebook that had been posted 3 hours prior: my friend David (and former blogger at “Facing Traffic”, “Another Mile Marker”, and others as he changed his blog name a few times) chose to end his life. He made a final post on Facebook and, by the time I awoke and read it, he was in the hospital on a breathing tube. A family member was kind enough to keep us all posted on his status. I’ve been checking for status updates all day. It was confirmed a few minutes ago that Dave’s injuries were fatal and the family was taking him off life support. Dave was an organ donor. It is ironic and sad: he was kind enough to provide life giving organs to others, while unable to find something inside himself to save his own life.

I’d like to say I’m stunned, but I’ve known David for a few years and I know he struggled with bipolar depression, among other things. I tried to be as available for David as I could be as a long-distance friend, responding anytime he reached out, always reminding him I was here to talk, and our door was always open if he needed a place to go. But I know he struggled and I knew this was always a possibility.

We texted regularly over the years and got to know each other pretty well (I think.) When he adopted his dog Cooper (I always called him “The Coop”) a couple years ago and named us Cooper’s “godparents” (funny in that we were both atheists) we visited him to meet them both and had a great weekend hanging out, cementing our friendship. In all honesty, I encouraged him to get a dog, hoping it might provide him some regular affection and company and give him an extra incentive to keep fighting to survive when things grew darkest.

David and I were in touch almost weekly, usually sharing our ailments, dog daddy experiences, and our job struggles: me with hating mine, him with difficulties finding and holding a job that could accommodate his challenges. There was always the promise of another visit: us there or him here, as soon as we could make it happen. We stayed candid with each other, and David knew he could tell me anything and I would listen, without judgement.

Most recently, David told me he had been working at a Casino that had a branch in my area and he was considering transferring here. I tried to give him as much info about the area as I could, assuring him we would gladly and enthusiastically welcome him and the Coop with open arms if they decided to relocate. It was exciting to think he and Cooper might become local friends. (According to his final Facebook post, he has been unemployed for four months, so now I don’t know if the Casino thing was true or not.)

I am not angry at David for making this choice. I am sad that my friend is gone. I am sad that Cooper lost his Dad. I am sad that David suffered so much for so long and felt so hopeless and helpless. I am sad that he was alone in his final moments of awareness, unable or unwilling to find the strength to reach out for help one more time. And I am sad that, despite knowing better, my friendship wasn’t somehow special or strong enough to be his “saving grace” or lifeline.

This is the third time I have lost a blogger buddy to death, the second time it was due to suicide, but the first time it was someone I considered a real friend.

I am sorry this was the only way he could fathom to end his pain.

I will miss him.

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26 Responses to For David

  1. Robin says:

    Sean, wanted to tell you this is a beautiful piece. It has stayed with me these last many months. I also wanted you to know his ashes will be sent downriver at his favorite park on his birthday, 05/26, at 10am. He valued your friendship very much. The Casino was real. He was back and forth with them on his disability and relocation. He fully intended to come and see you again. Your name and number were on his desk, that read, “Good possible home for Cooper.” In the end his physical health failed, which led to the further decline of his mental health, and his devastating loss. You were a good friend.

    • Sassybear says:

      Thank you for this, Robin. It is a true gift to know this. I’ve never really felt any closure with his death, but this has brought me closer. I miss him every day and it was hard to know nothing beyond his last post which was, despite knowing his struggles, an absolute shock. Thank you for being there for him, as much as he would allow and for sharing this with me. It means more than I can ever say.

  2. Robin says:

    Sean, wanted to tell you this is a beautiful piece. It has stayed with me these last many months. I also wanted you to know his ashes will be sent downriver at his favorite park on his birthday, 05/26. He valued your friendship very much. The Casino was real. He was back and forth with them on his disability and relocation. He fully intended to come and see you again. Your name and number were on his desk, that read, “Good possible home for Cooper.” In the end his physical health failed, which led to the further decline of his mental health, and his devastating loss. You were a good friend.

  3. javabear says:

    Ouch, that’s hard. I’m sorry, which sounds so paltry for something this tragic. Otherwise I have no words.

  4. Ron says:

    This is horrible. I remember David. Some years ago I used to follow his blog. Then somewhere along the line I lost track of him. I know he traveled quite a bit. He seemed to have so much going for him but who knows what really goes on in someone’s life? Many years ago (1989) a good friend of mine committed suicide. Her husband called me and left a message on my answering machine. I was sure he was joking. I made a point of going to the funeral just to show him up (he often played practical jokes). Much to my shock she had killed herself. She did it by going into her daughter’s bedroom (she had tow adopted Korean children, boy and girl) and putting a gun in her mouth. If you would have known her this is the absolutely last thing you would have imagined she would end her life. I asked him “why?”. He said she was depressed because her Mother had just died, she was going through menopause (she was 49, same age as me at that time) and felt overwhelmed keeping up two households, his parents going into assisted care and her general perfection. What really struck me was that the day before she killed herself she had called me at work but I was too busy to talk to her (I was). She often called me to commiserate. But that day (Friday) I was just too busy. I forgot to call back on Saturday. Sunday morning I received his message on my answering machine. I’ve often wondered if I had called her back (Alice) would it have made any difference? Maybe but maybe not. One thing for sure, since that time there have been a few occasions when I was gong to do myself in but then I thought all the pain she caused by what she did and I just couldn’t do that to my survivors, mainly my Mother. I still remember the haunted look her eight year old daughter and five year old son, dressed in their Sunday best at the funeral home, gave me. They only knew me as “the man with the doggie Christmas cards” who they were no seeing in person. For years I used to send Christmas cards with me and my three Pomeranians.
    Not to make this about me (but I did didn’t I?) but I wanted to share this experience that has haunted me and will continue to haunt me my whole life. These days I have a lot going for me but that could end very quickly with the death of Bill,, my partner and husband of 55 years who is now 91. Also my very dear friend Pat F. who I talk about (probably too much) all the time, if he went away I would have nothing. I too have health issues creeping up (prostate cancer). My very good friend who I talk to almost every day on FaceTime is in his third year of ALS. We’re the same age and have known each other for seventy years. Once they’re gone I see no reason to hang around and await a slow and probably painful and humiliating demise. Yes, I can understand why someone would want to end their own life. It’s very simple, it is to end the pain both emotional and physical.

    Most of my friends and contemporaries have already died. My dogs have all died (five of them). I might get a cat if I’m alone and maybe that would help me. In the end we are all in control of our own lives and that is the way it should be. I can understand why Jay took his own life. I didn’t know David so I don’t know what pain he was going through. But one thing I do know, his pain is over. Ours lingers on.

    Ron

  5. Urspo says:

    I wrote on this too and feel as you do, although I feel some anger at our nation and society for their contributions on this loss.

  6. renudepride says:

    My condolences to you. Naked hugs!

  7. I’m so sorry to hear about your loss. I went through this back in middle school when one of my friends took his life around the holidays, and then during my senior year in high school two more did the same thing. All of them seemed happy, so we never know what’s really going on until it’s too late.

  8. Raybeard says:

    What absolute tragedy”. You must feel like the stuffing’s been knocked out of you, S/b. We feel for your devastation though nothing we can say will alleviate it Thank you, David, for the precious, irreplaceable memories you’ve left your friends.

  9. wcs says:

    I, too, remember David’s blog(s). So sad. I’m certain he took comfort in your friendship. Sometimes, sadly, it’s not enough, but it’s still worth the effort.

  10. Linda Practical Parsimony says:

    I understand how David felt.

  11. glen says:

    I am so sorry for your loss. I am sure you were a great friend and support person. It is so said that someone reaches such despair that suicide is the only option. My heart aches for you and others he left behind. Take care

  12. Jeffrey Rich says:

    My partner also knew him from the blogosphere. He’s pretty wrecked.

  13. I remember david. this is so sad.

    our neighbor took his life last year in his garage; he missed his parents and his pet parrot.

    my condolences, dear sassy; be comforted by happy times you spent with him. and I hope the persons that receive david’s organs will live long and prosper.

  14. I am so sorry for this loss, for everyone who knew him and lost him. This is extremely sad. I have lost a couple people to suicide. For me, the wondering has never gone away. The “why didn’t I know” feeling, I am unable to shake.

  15. Wes says:

    I am so sorry for your loss. By coincidence, I just found out this morning that my close friend of 30 years committed suicide in July 31 this year. I was away this summer and his regular emails stopped and by the time I called him, his phone was disconnected. How can someone you have known for 30:years suddenly disappear, I should have known. I finally checked the obituaries as I started to wonder. He had been treated for depression lately but I thought with his support group he was doing well. I am in shock, I will miss him, we had a lot of history. You and I only have our memories now.

    • Sassybear says:

      There is no easy way to come to terms with someone we care about being here one moment, than gone the next, no matter the reason. My heart hurts for the loss, as I’m sure yours does, too.

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