He took his own life. “How?” is the question I’ve gotten the most. Where I’m originally from, drugs are the likely culprit. Last year, heroin claimed the lives of two people I went to school with. I was starting to think the Midwest – Ohio – was like some sort of vortex, where there is just so little hope and people get caught up in that momentary escape/high…. that was until Phillip Seymour Hoffman OD’d on Super Bowl Sunday. But it wasn’t heroin that took the life of my friend, nor was it any drug.

Quite frankly, “How?” is a question I can’t answer. The wonder has crossed my mind, but the answer isn’t something I’ve asked. It’s something I don’t really want to know. The last thing I want is a mental image of how those last seconds or minutes could have faded away.

What’s really important here isn’t me or my perspective – it’s the heartache, the your-heart’s-been-completely-ripped-in-two-pieces anguish for so many people that was caused by one person’s momentary decision. I’ve been there, I’ve thought those thoughts, but fuck that – I’ve wondered what other people would think… my parents… my siblings… my friends… my nieces and nephews. In this case, I wish the guilt brought on by over-analysis would have outweighed those low points that everyone has. Not to diminish, but we all have our ups and downs. Some situations come about and are more serious than others, but leaving your children behind is something I can’t understand. I’m sure it’s something my friend couldn’t understand, either… No one could foresee the events that would come, though I remember him telling me, at a young age, of his dad’s decision to leave this world behind.

What’s left, though, are memories…. really good memories and a lot of them… camping out in my dad’s backyard, making prank phone calls, drinking Surge all night, then going skateboarding at 6 AM. Walking along Shaker Creek, seeing an absolutely massive bird that seemingly could have been a very-lost California Condor. Band practice upstairs, then downstairs when the family moved. Playing Tool’s “Stinkfist” in front of the whole school at the talent show in 8th grade. Amber. Playing Korn’s “Blind” at the talent show in 9th grade and all the practice involved with that. Uncle Tommy, at point-blank range, pulling the trigger on an empty paintball gun pointed at my head. Working in live sound together. Working at a haunted trail together for a couple seasons. The Korg ER-1. Buying two drum sets (the crappy black one and the shiny silver one). Many years later- going to a dueling piano bar in Long Beach and having a few beers, talking about making amends. On the last visit here, having beers at the Ramada bar, talking more about making amends… the Universal City overlook on Mulholland Drive and looking down on all the city lights, when he put his mom on speakerphone, saying “Guess who I’m with right now?”

Admittedly, this is a difficult time, but I think my buddy was happy here in that moment… proud of where he was and what I’ve done. I took the plunge, made the move, and got away from that place where everyone automatically assumes that every death is an overdose.

My friend- I miss you and will continue to do so… not that I expect you to be reading my WordPress account from up on high. But I just want your spirit/your soul/you to know that I hate your decision but yet remain proud of some of your accomplishments…. wish you were here, buddy. I wish it was as easy as saying “come on back,” but it sure as hell is not.

Friends, and anonymous people that visit this page, if you ever feel like you need to escape this world, consider that there are people out there who love and respect you…people who would be distraught and feel completely lost without you around. It’s true. People aren’t psychics – they can’t read what you are feeling, even if you think it’s obvious, so please do yourself a favor (and everyone else) and reach out. I’m a good listener, and there are hotlines available to help, too. 1-800-273-TALK (8255).