I've been, for the last week and a half generally, but for the last 48 hours specifically, been trying to get my head around the idea that a friend of mine may very well be dead. For lack of a better description, this alone has been a rough, bitter pill to swallow. But over the last few days, some things have come to the forefront of my mind, and sometimes, I just say whatever is running amock in this contraption I call a mind...a very brief synopsis for anyone that happens to not know.
Vince Binder, a graduate student at Florida State University, came up missing late on the night of April 1, 2010. Over the last few days, it has become a matter of record that he came in contact with 3 escaped convicts from Louisiana, and they were the last ones to see him, with one of the men indicating the men killed Binder. Vince was a friend of mine. For Vince:
As it became public knowledge that Vince was missing, his friends in the debate community had an outpouring of love and support any of us would be honored to be apart of, much less being the base of such an outpouring of emotion. It was this that really got me to thinking- how often do we really tell the people that matter to us their true worth? I can speak for myself, and the answer is not enough. Most of us are really into the now- what's happening at this very second, and how is this relevant to me right now. It seems like it may even be carved into our culture and psyche that we like to wait until the end before we tell people how we really feel about them. And, if we're really fortunate, we'll have the opportunity to do so. But sometimes, not so much...
...as a freshman in high school, I didn't have a ton of friends (not that different than now, but for very different reasons) but one of the true confidantes I had in high school was a friend, we'll just call him Chirs. Chris and I went to different high schools, but even through the things that pull 9th graders apart, I felt those things pulled us closer together. I didn't have a best friend, but he would have been the closest thing to a best friend. We would hang out after school, generally vent about how much we hated high school and eat peanut butter sandwiches and reflect on our (read: my) lack of game. One Wednesday, Chris met me at my school, as he got out of school an hour earlier than I did, and he wanted to chill. So we leave my school, and go to downtown Berkeley and go to Games of Berkeley (looked at a bunch of Dungeons and Dragons stuff) got a slice of pizza (Arnell's- best NY style pizza in Berkeley) and walked around the campus shooting the shit, having a great time. We get on the BART train, head back to El Cerrito, where I walk with Chris to his house (which is about 4 blocks from my house). We say our farewells, and right before I walk off, Chris comes to me and says, "Thanks." I'm not really sure, but I say "You're welcome, man. I'll see you tomorrow."
Fast forward 26 minutes, as that's about how much time it took me to walk home and make myself something to eat. That's when my mom walks in, and she looks like she's seen a ghost. I have no idea what's happening, but that's the same look she had on her face when she found out my brother died, and so I knew there was nothing remotely close to good news.
Apparently, my friend Chris, who I had just spent all afternoon with, and had literally just seen not a half hour ago, was discovered by his mother, in his room, hanging from his ceiling fan. He left two notes: one to his parents, and one to me. The only words on my note were: "Today was awesome. Best way to go out. Too much to explain. Just easier this way. Catch you on the other side."
To this day, I always wonder if the reason he came to my school that day was because he needed to talk to me, and he needed me to talk him out of it. I wonder if he was reaching out, and I was too stupid/arrogant/self-interested to really notice. I spent the greater part of my high school experience carrying the weight of unmanagable guilt, as I felt my friend was reaching out to me, and my arms weren't long enough to reach him. But more than any of these things I wonder about for my own selfish reasons, I really wonder if hearing what kind of person he was, and what kind of friend he was, and the role he played in (at the very least) my life, might this have made him reflect on himself differently, and maybe he...i did this to myself for years, and still do to this day. To Chris:
I don't know if my telling him how important in my life would have saved his, but I do know that not telling him fucking haunts me to this day. So I try to remind myself to tell the people that matter in my life that they matter, and I try to remind them how much. It seems small and insignificant, so much so that we almost never do it.
Tell the people you love that you love them. Tell the people that matter to you that they do. But don't forget to tell them WHY.