To Dan

January 20, 2015 at 11:42 a.m.

Today, I learned a good friend of mine passed away. He’d struggled with depression for a long time, and I guess it became too much to bear. He committed suicide yesterday, and his family and friends are devastated. Normally I wouldn’t post this sort of thing here: It’s personal. But mental health is a huge problem that we as a country have yet to deal with. If you are hurting, please, please reach out. I know it’s hard, but reach out. If you know someone who is hurting, as hard as it is, get them help. Please. It’s a matter of life or death.

I want to write you something beautiful. Something fitting for the love you’ve shown me over the years; the times you let me crash at your house when I had nowhere else to go. That pull-out couch in your living room was lumpy and hard to sleep on, but in those days it felt like home. I want to write something that encapsulates the feeling you gave me when I showed up to the set of our movie short, completely shocked that there was a full crew. They treated me like I was a star, like my work mattered, and at that point I didn’t feel that my work mattered, that I mattered. I thought the    little film shoot of my poem was going to be just that – little, but instead, you made it into a production. I remember I found you on set with this big smile on your face. You said something corny like “You see all these people I got out here for your ass? Who loves you, baby?” Who loves you, baby?…I mean who in the hell says that? You did. And you meant it.

I want to write something funny that speaks to the time we froze in New York City, sleeping in a filthy apartment with no heat, furniture, or blankets to keep us warm. But we   were young, opening a play in NYC, a solo show I had no business writing and acting in, and you had zero experience in directing, and yet we did it. Flaws and all, we did it. I want to write you something that is honest, that speaks to frustrations we both had with each other from time to time. The bitter arguments that made me want to strangle you, and I’m sure you felt the same about me. But in the end, we always worked it out, usually making peace at a Jaguars game…watching them lose, laughing and crying at the same time; spilling beers, you embarrassing me ’cause you were so damn loud at the game. (Seriously dude, the players couldn’t hear you from our seats.) But if I got tickets, chances were we were going together.

I want to write something to heal the hurt that must have been tearing you up inside. I knew it was there, you’d shared it with me before, but like a lot of people struggling with depression you knew how to hide it from the world and I thought you’d gotten past it. I want to write you something that will reflect how I see you: a man with such a big heart, smart, goofy, driven, thoroughly human and enough. More than enough, even if you didn’t believe it.

I want to write something that expresses the anger your passing has left me with. I’m trying to let it go. I will let it go, but right now it’s too fresh; you were meant for bigger things, even if that was just a longer life. I have to believe you ended yours without much thought; a rash decision that everyone who loves you must now deal with. I can’t comprehend you thinking it through and deciding to do it. I just can’t. To be clear, I’m not mad at you, just the circumstance, and it’s tearing me apart. I understand depression, I know you had to be so lost you couldn’t make sense of anything, so I know it’s an irrational question but I keep wondering, why didn’t you call me? I know I’m always busy, but if you had just said you needed me, you have to have known I would have dropped everything. Like you have done for me.

I want to write something that will bring you back, give you a glance at the world without you; at the testimonials, the broken hearts, your parents’ loss, and empty space you used to fill. It feels like the Grand Canyon, vast and unending. But even as I write, I know that writing this is as useless as the tears collected in your honor. You’re gone, and you’re not coming back. Forgive me, but writing is what I do when I need to make sense of the world. It’s all I have. I wish I’d written this to you last week when you could have read it, and maybe it would have meant something…something more than a memorial: a reflecting glass to help you see beyond the distorted vision depression presented you with. But as it stands, these words and memories are just a dim replacement for you.

I pray that you have passed out of that dark valley and are bathing in the light. I pray that your parents, your brother, and your extended family find peace. I pray, that you knew that I love you, the way you loved me.

Author: Arbus

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