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No Return

When I was a freshman in high school, so roughly 15, I had an online friend, whom was depressed.  Suicidal.  I knew this.

One night I sat and read his plan as he typed it to me over ICQ or Yahoo, whatever we were using at the time.  This was 15 years ago.  I read his anguish and what he intended to do about it.  I knew it was coming that night, that hour.  So I started him talking.  Anything to keep him talking.  I gained ground, and I lost it.  I’d gain more, but I’d lose twice as much.  That’s what it’s like when someone isn’t just wishing life away but putting a plan into motion.

I kept him going for an hour or so.  Maybe it was far less.  Maybe it was more like 3.  This was half my life ago and in moments like this, time doesn’t progress normally anyway.  But we talked a lifetime away as I kept him talking right up until he couldn’t type anymore.  And I continued to type to him knowing full well it was too late, he was at that point of no return.  He was already gone.

I had it confirmed, I don’t even know how much later, by his younger brother.

My life was never the same after that night.

I suppose that’s why, so many years later, I can’t just walk away.  It may not be my personal problem, but it’s someone’s problem.  Someone’s friend.  Someone’s son or daughter.  The love of someone’s life, whether they can see it or not.  And maybe for whatever reason, they can’t be the one there keeping them talking.

But I’d like to think that if I hadn’t been available on that fateful night, someone else would have been.  Maybe they could have done better, maybe I got further than anyone could have.  Just as long as he wasn’t alone in his final moments, even if I was an ocean away.

And so no, I can’t walk away.  It doesn’t matter if you are a total stranger.  Someone who knows you and loves you will always be grateful for the heart I put into gaining ground in keeping your life intact.

I told my father the day after it happened.  Knowing full well he was gone, did we have any means of confirming it?  But this person I cried for the night before was an ocean away, and I didn’t even know for sure where.  Technology was much the same then in the sense of talking to people around the world, but unlike today, there was no Facebook or twitter making it possible to narrow down where a lost life might be found so police could be called.

I still think of him time to time.  I don’t remember his name.  Too many years have passed and I’m not good with that aspect  of my memory.  Yet I will never forget, until my own dying days, that feeling I was left with when all was said and done.

And if in my life I can prevent that feeling for anyone else, then I will fight to make it so.

Because you don’t have to love someone to feel that hole of a life lost.

You’d be surprised who can care about you and how.

And no one is better off when anyone is gone.

5 Comments

  1. Comment by Caroline:

    That’s heartbreaking – what a thing to experience at 15, or at any age.

    I find it inspiring that you have allowed this experience to cement your wonderful ability to be giving and empathetic with others. We can’t change the past or speak with the dead, but we can use the lessons that they taught us to help ourselves and others. Thank you so much for sharing this story.

  2. Comment by Kat:

    Thank you for sharing this, it is very difficult to share a story like this. It’s a very important, very personal story. You are right. No one is better when someone is gone. I hope others read your post and consider the impact they will have on the people they would leave behind.

  3. Comment by Julie You Jest:

    This is just so terribly sad. It’s so true, no one is better off when anyone is gone. Thank you for sharing this.

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