Tuesday, May 21, 2013

A week and a half ago a guy I grew up with passed away. He took his own life. I found out a few days later, via a mutual friend over email, as is the custom. And, also as is the custom, I can't stop thinking about him. His name was Mike, and he was very smart, and very nice, and also very handsome. I'm not going to lie, the latter is really sticking with me. The photos of him that have been posted are just too poignant. I mean, he was dreamy.

At the risk of getting lost on caveat lane, I do want to say that I don't think it's any less sad or terrible when someone not handsome, not nice, and not smart passes away, let alone takes their own life. In the search for a reason, though - a reason that is sorely lacking when you haven't talked to someone since high school - it's that much more baffling when the person seems to have had a great life. Mike had a girlfriend, as far as I can tell from Facebook. In a lot of photos there's a dog, a black lab. I know he had good friends, because I kept in touch with some of them. I know he had a good job, because I have been Googling. And I know how depression is, because I have been close to it. But still. But still.

Mike played the Beast in our sixth grade performance of Beauty and the Beast. My best friend Stef played Belle; I played a plate (the head plate, I was told, but I later learned that was just because I was the tallest). Later, when we were in high school, I thought about getting my pilot's license. Mike, who later wound up at Embry-Riddle, an aeronautics college, encouraged me. He convinced me it was the best thing I could do. My parents disagreed, and I lost that battle. But over the last week and a half I haven't been able to stop thinking about the teenage boy who checked in with a classmate in the halls on a dream, who handed her pamphlets and told her she could do it, that she'd love being on the wing. It was a much greater show of care and energy than was seemly at the time, and I can't shake it now.

From what I've pieced together, Mike did not become a pilot, as he had wanted in high school, but went into the Marines. He did a long tour of duty in Iraq, where he continued to be nicer than was even close to required. He came home and got what to me appears to have been a fancy job in DC. His girlfriend (again based on Facebook stalking) clearly adored him, and he her. When she changed her profile picture a few days after he died to a photo of him kissing her, someone commented, "Who is that movie star smooching you?" Enough people changed their photos last week to pictures of him that I thought he had gotten married, until I got the news.

I know this is how life goes sometimes. We get older, life gets complex, sadder in many ways, and people pass away. This one rankles though. It really does.

1 comment:

mindy said...

I didn't know that about you considering pilot lessons. It's not too late - you can still learn!

Mike was pretty rad, in many ways. One thing I will always remember about him was from back in the days of AOL, when one could carefully craft an AOL profile, filled with all the wittiest (and by 'wittiest' I mean cheesiest/lamest) quotes and inside-jokes. In 7th grade, Mike had this quote on his AOL profile: "Beware the lollipop of mediocrity - lick it once, and you suck forever." I remember having to look up 'mediocrity' in the dictionary, and always getting a chuckle thinking about this quote ever since.