My Friends Came To Me

I lost two friends who came to visit me from beyond. Let me introduce them first.

One of my friends who killed himself was also a victim of abuse. He was the son of a gay father who died of AIDS when he was 40. His father left him, his mother and his sister when Chad was in junior high school. By the time he was 15, he was kicked out of his house by his mom, who couldn't hold things together. He finished high school and then went on the road, where had many jobs, including cleaning a meat packing plant in Arizona. After the daily butchering, all of the entrails he would sweep up were put in a giant pot and boiled, eventually ending up in hot dogs. He never ate a hot dog again.

His grandfather died at the age of 40, being suffocated by mud after the tractor the he was fixing in the field rolled over him. His great grandfather was killed in war at age 40, his great, great grandfather was killed by and Indian raid at age 40. So Chad concluded, being the last male in his family that would die at age 40. His favorite band was always the Beatles, especially after John Lennon died at the age of 40. I am a huge Beatles fan, so that is more than we needed to be friends.

Believing his life was short; Chad lived every day as if it were his last, a characteristic that made him more than compelling. He had joined a heavy metal band and toured Europe and the Far East as a drummer. When I met him, we were working at the best bookstore in the world. He was there after being a teacher in a religious school. He had a bachelor's degree and was able to teach, which he loved. He took his students to an amusement park every year, even after his teaching career was stolen from him. In his neighborhood, there was a molester attacking young girls. Chad was a nudist at heart and liked to walk around his house naked between showers and dressing, he would often hold off on getting dressed. I am a nudist at heart too, but we never shared this, however it is interesting none the less. It is not a sexual thing, even though nakedness can lead to arousal. Nudism is about shedding all the constraints of the world and being as we are created. It is about being not vulnerable, but not in judgment of all the BS that our over sexed and over achieving society pushes in a sea of Puritan Ethics and Right Wing control. We did share the view of escaping the traps of social pressures.

On a typical night we would drink and sometimes smoke. Chad would improvise on his drums; we would make all kinds of noises, sometimes even singing to feel the grove. Chad knew the local music scene. Once a month we would go to an open microphone night in a warehouse. You paid $5 for a glass and helped drain the kegs as local bands strutted their stuff in some awesome jam sessions. The night always included Frisbee or basketball after most called it a night. We would go to local school playground with a lilt court and play the night away, sometimes being sent home by the police, who knew we were harmless. We never wanted the party to end. We explored the Colorado Mountains and also the night in the city in many drunken and altered states. We were never about checking out and escaping, but about opening up.

Of course what I didn't realize then, was that part of our bond was that we both were victims, desperate trying not to be victims.

One of the best things we did was start playing volleyball in a local park every Friday after work. We started with a homemade net, wood poles and a bargain net from Target. Eventually it grew, where people from all walks of life and abilities gathered for more than the volleyball. We organically developed a whole new community of very different, but very like minded people. We ended up having up to four nets and all of our friends, new and old, getting together. Three of my friends were named Chad, and I was the bridge that brought them together. They loved being on the same team and being Chads against the World.

I met a girl on a trip to New York City and ended up moving to the East Coast. However the volleyball continues on Friday nights in the Spring, Summer and Fall to this day. In fact it continues to attract new and old friends.

Before Chad took his life, I was home to say goodbye to my dying grandfather. Chad called me and said he needed to talk and that I might be the only person that could help him. I was overwhelmed by my grandfather and didn't make the time for him. A few weeks later he overdosed at the age of 42, he couldn't cope with living past 40. I was too poor at the time to get back to attend his funeral and wake. We were living in Boston and selling CD's to buy food. Back before you could download music, selling CD's was a quick way to get cash.

The other friend that came to me was my best friend's younger sister from childhood, lost to suicide. She was sexually abused by her friend's father when we were kids. It was surreal when we went to see what was happening, and the father was being arrested after a neighbor witnessed him molesting the girls in the back seat of his car. Diane's oldest brother had to be held back by three cops and all the men available. I know he would have killed the freak that wrecked his sister, even though no one was aware of just how much pain she was to endure. All of this was not as out in the open back then as it is today. The shame it brought to her and her family was intolerable. Her parents did the best they could, but she never got the help she needed. Their mother was also a victim of sexual abuse by their grandfather. Apples don't fall far from trees.

The older brother got a girl pregnant in high school. He was always looking for love and being a good looking guy, he got lots of it, once without protection. The girl left school and supposedly got an abortion. But 18 years later, after their mother had passed, their niece showed up looking a lot like the departed mother right in the middle of the holiday season. She had spent years tracking down her biological father and surprise a new sister and aunt joined the family...

After some tumultuous experiences with lesbians and drugs Diane found solace in a Vietnam vet who she married and built a great life with. They were each others saviors. When he died of a heart attack, Diane fell to pieces and killed herself few years later.

So I was sitting at home one night when my daughter and wife were out of town. I was in my den, watching TV in the space between wake and sleep. Chad and Diane walked into my den. Chad strutted around in his signature fast moving gate. Chad and I talked a lot when we were together, but neither one of us where good at displaying our emotions, but we knew we loved each other. He put his hand on my shoulder and told me it was ok, it was not my fault. He said he was not mad and walked back next to Diane, who was staring at me, telling me how sorry she was with her eyes, that always told me what she was thinking when we were young. She didn't need any words. Then they were gone, but I could still feel their presence.

I was wide awake by then and wrote everything down. I told my best friend about it and he believes she had been to see him too. After she died he was the one to find her, still slightly warm. It was too late to save her. His daughters were out in the car. He had the intuition to keep them safe.

I also sense when anyone I am close to dies or goes through a sever pain. My grandmother could tell when anyone her tenement building died. My mother tells me I got her gift.

I also sense when strangers who are physically near, within a few blocks die. The feeling is different than when I know the person, not as deep, but still quite unsettling. It is not a fear I feel, it is just as if the sea vibrates as the energy leaves. I have anxiety about it, since I am some what of a control freak about my emotions. The anxiety is from having no control. When I was on psych meds for depression, the sensations stopped, or at least I was no longer able to feel them fully. I was also not able to get angry or happy, so I am glad I quit them. Our neighbor died a few weeks ago and I knew it. When we got home, I saw her son who lived with her out in front of his house talking with people I had never seen. I walked over and told him I was so sorry he lost her early yesterday. He asked me how I knew, since only family members were told. I told him I just sensed it by his grief. He was too wrapped in emotions to go any further with it.

At the funeral, his sister asked me how I knew she died in the morning, when it was not released to anyone outside the family. I told her that I woke up and felt the loss. She said she did the same, 2000 miles away.

So I do believe when one dies they are not lost, but move on to another place. No one has lived to tell about it, so we have to trust our intuition, not the science and empirical world that often closes us off.
thykermit thykermit
51-55, M
Dec 10, 2012