The Day My Best Friend Died
Sometimes people can be horribly cruel; and for no better reason than that their own lives are miserable. If you haven't guessed from reading this blog, I saw a lot of cruelty... But this story is about the cruelest thing that happened to me.
When I transferred to public school, I made a friend. Well, ok; I made several friends and one best friend. We hung out after school. We hung out during summer vacation. Although we never dated, he was my first kiss. We worked at the same pizza place, just so we could be together. I watched him date my friends, and I forgave him when he broke up with them. I let him sleep in my car when his aunt kicked him out of the house and greeted him every morning with breakfast and a pack of smokes. Friends carry no debts.
I knew he was depressed. I mean homeless and unemployed; who wouldn't be depressed? But then his aunt let him back in the house, and he was actively looking for a job; I thought the worst was over. The day after he moved back to his aunt's house, he came to me with a bottle of pills. They were unlike any pills I'd seen before. He had made them himself. He had taken some household ingredients and mixed them with stuff from his old chemistry set. (You know, the kind of set that actually had toxic stuff in it? The kind they don't sell anymore?) He had put the mix into gelcaps, but his aunt had kicked him out before he could take them. Separated from his chosen method of surcease, he'd slept in my car and never said a word.
I made him promise me that he would call before he took the pills. I told him that I would try to talk him through it; and if I couldn't, then I would stay on the phone and keep him company while he died. He didn't want me to keep him company, he said the mix was designed to make sure he died; but it would be painful. I insisted that when you're in pain is when you need company the most. I reminded him of the day he'd talked to me for 7 hours while I'd secretly chewed up aspirin, trying to kill myself because BG wouldn't take my virginity when I'd offered it to him. (side note: 14 yr. olds are not very rational) But he kept me company, and talked to me until I fell asleep. He brought me back to my senses. How could I do less for him?
He did not call me the next day. He didn't come by to visit, either. I was confident that he hadn't taken the pills. During the 6 years we had been friends, he'd never broken his word. So I called his house to see how he was doing. His aunt answered the phone; and when I asked if my friend was available, she told me that he had killed himself last night.
I was stunned. My world became very quiet. I kept trying to think of something to say that would make it not so, and no words would bring him back.
Finally, I asked, "When is the funeral? I'd like to say goodbye."
His aunt replied, "You fucking bitch. You knew about those pills, and you didn't tell me! Now he's dead and it's all your fault!"
I tried again, "Please, when is the funeral?"
I'll never forget what she said to me next, "You can find out in the obituaries!"
Then she hung up on me.
I slammed down the phone, and sat looking at my hands and thinking. My best friend was dead. He didn't feeldead, but there was no reason for her to lie to me. I knew I should call our mutual friends, and see if they could find out when the funeral was. Maybe that bitter dishrag of a human being would tell them. I couldn't call his mom; she would be grieving, and I didn't want to dump this new problem on her. My mind was running in circles. I needed to call people... How could she say that to me?... Maybe K would talk to her... He can't be dead, he promised me!... How could he break his promise?... I need to call someone... an endless loop.
I did eventually call K, who called the aunt for me. She wouldn't tell him anything either. After that, she stopped answering her phone. K called all of our mutual friends, and they trickled in throughout the evening. We sat on my car for most of the night. We talked and we grieved. I should say they grieved. I was just numb. I kept thinking how surreal this was. Everything had the same weird quality as an uncomfortable dream.
It was a typical hazy summer night, which made the street look shrouded. It didn't help that the city had recently installed those nasty orange streetlights which bleed the color out of everything.
Once in a while I would say, "I can't believe it. He just doesn't feel dead to me. I would know if he were dead."
My friends said, "You have to face it and move on. He's dead. And you're in denial."
A good friend will say harsh things when they need to be said. They were good friends, indeed.
The next morning, he still didn't seem dead. I could feel him out there, alive. My gut said, "He lives!" while my head said, "Quit being stupid. Accept it and move on."
The morning after that, I had begun to come to terms with it. It was hard. I felt like I was going crazy. After all, only crazy people have delusions, and I was deluding myself thinking that he was alive. When in reality, my best friend was gone forever; but I was still here. Some part of me would probably always feel like he was alive; like he had moved to another state, and we just didn't talk anymore.
I had to separate that part of me, and I spent the day doing just that. Every time I thought, "He's alive", I would suppress it and think, "No, he's dead."
I guess it worked, because the thoughts came less frequently as the day went on. They started to be thoughts of, "I must go on", instead.
That afternoon the phone rang. A strange voice on the other end said, "Sharon? Hi! How are you?"
I said, "Who is this?"
The voice said, "This is (name)."
I said, "(Name) who?"
Here was this stranger on the phone insisting that he was my dead friend!
I said, "That's not funny. What kind of twisted fuck are you? (Name)'s dead!"
Ooh, I was mad. What kind of perv makes calls like this? How did he get my number, and how did he know my friend's name?
The voice said, "I'm not dead. I checked myself into Malcolm Bliss Hospital, so that I wouldn't kill myself."
And, oh my god, it was him!
His aunt, the bitch, had lied to me.
I didn't go and murder her.
I wouldn't, couldn't murder someone in cold blood.
If I ever see her on the street begging for food, I will pass her by.
And if I see her trapped in the wreckage of a car, I'm likely to lean in real close and say, "You deserve it" before I walk away.