I got the phone call minutes after hitting “publish” on my last post, just a couple of hours before Yom Kippur. All the things for which it was now too late rushed through my head. Death is so final. My first thoughts were for you. “Oh no, Jamie, what did you do…”
My second thought was that I should have kept in touch. I should have wished you a happy birthday. I should have let you come and stay, as you begged me to, a year ago. Heck, I should have taken you on that road trip, why not? I should have put you in touch with Operation Come Home, with the Youth Services Bureau or their equivalent where you lived. I knew you were struggling, I knew you felt trapped. Why is it that I can think of a million things I could and should have done now, now that I won’t get a chance to?
I also knew, because, alas, I have been around this block a few times, that it was beyond my reach, that the kind of help you needed most, I was not able to give because, well, because of my own limitations. Because I am barely keeping up with the requirements of a grown-up’s life, some days: the schedule, the money, the marriage, two young kids who need me to stay at my best, night and day. I was afraid for them. That’s why I couldn’t let you come, not while you were so deep in the trenches. I wasn’t sure I could trust you around them, please forgive me. I lived with my mother’s depression my whole childhood, and I know it’s a full time emotional investment. I did not have it in me to take care of you the way you wanted to be taken care of, even for a little while. Please forgive me. It felt impossible. I know now that it was a heck of a lot more possible then than it is now. But all the same.
As I was writing this post on people I hurt and things I did wrong, it turns out the one person I needed to ask forgiveness from the most was you, and now I won’t get a chance to.
I thought about you so often. Daily. You probably had no idea, how would you? But you were with me, a lot. I wanted you to get well so badly. I really liked you kid, loved you even. I liked that you were part of this family. I liked that you were different. I did tell you that I think, during one of those marathon conversations, though perhaps not as clearly, and not as well. Those conversations left me so drained and full of panic. I felt like driving to see you a million times, but I was afraid of being sucked into something I could not handle, the same way I found it hard to end those conversations that seemed to go around in circles I could not break. I was afraid because I looked at my kids and I felt that they were going to lose a part of me if I invested myself in you. Please, forgive me.
I do know that I could have done a lot more to help you through. It may or may not have been enough. If anyone understood fully what you needed, no one would be planning a funeral for you today. I was hoping and praying that you would find your own way out, as I had. I really believed it when I told you you could and would be happy.
But I failed to see that your struggle was not like mine, that your demons were crueler, that, unlike me, you did not feel loved – although you were, you were loved immensely, you still are, and always will be. I hope you know that now, I hope you feel that now, at least. Can I celebrate your life when I feel – in part at least – responsible for your death?
Your death changes everything, and yet it does not change enough. That is the way with death. It punches a giant hole in the universe, and yet the world keeps spinning, stubborn, oblivious to our pain and yours. The crazy merry-go-round of life goes on and barely gives us enough pause to grieve and try to learn something, anything, from this. Also, you’re still alive on Facebook, which is just weird.
We will be burying your body and bidding you farewell tomorrow. We will release your soul to the universe, and pray that you found peace, and joy, and light, and all the things you could not see down here with us.
Death is so final. I will miss you, kid.