It would be an understatement to say that this week has not been a good one. A little over a week ago, Shawn, (a good friend of mine) made the decision that he didn't want to live anymore. He wasn't sick (that we know of) he was just having a particularly hard go of things lately. I suspect the confluence of the probable end of a marriage, a DUI, a rough semester at school, work and his high standards for himself probably put the screws to him. These are, of course, just guesses. We will probably never know exactly what was going through Shawn's head when he decided to do what he did. All we have are guesses and assumptions.
I grieve for the loss of Shawn. He was a good person who's friendship I will deeply miss. I wasn't his closest friend but I knew him well enough that his passing effects me pretty deeply and it effects those I care about as well.
One of the side effects of Shawn's death is that it has made me very introspective as of late. In some ways this feels really selfish and self indulgent. Who gives a shit about my whiny little problems, my friend is dead. Well, that's the problem. The only real meaning I can give to Shawn's death is in terms of my own inner monologue. Shawn's passing makes me think of my own mortality. When I get choked up thinking about Shawn, am I weepy because I've lost my friend or is it because I know that I too will some day come to an end? Let me tell you, the end is something that scares the hell out of me. As a non-believer I don't have the solace in knowing that I will have something after this life. When I'm done, I'm pretty sure I'm done. I don't know if that's how Shawn felt. In talking to friends, I get the notion that Shawn may have considered this a reboot or a do over. I don't know, but for Shawn's sake and for mine really, I hope he is right. How great would it be to be able to decide that you'd worked yourself into a corner and that maybe you'd be better of starting over again.
How liberating would that knowledge be? There'd be no risk not worth taking. "Hell, if I screw this up, I will just try again next time." I wish (hope) that is the case. I just don't think so. Since I'm banking on only one trip through the wringer I've had to think about things differently. I need to find some way to balance risk and reward so as to maximize what I get. The problem comes in deciding what factors to try to maximize. Should I maximize my own happiness, my own safety, my own stimulation, the happiness of my child, the happiness of my family and loved ones, the safety of my child, the happiness of the word. The list goes on and on. The more I look at it the more it appears to be a multivariable optimization problem from Calculus 101. It makes me wish I'd paid more attention in class. Maybe it would be useful right now. Probably not.
Another thing that has happened to me lately (that has been particularly unpleasant) is that my mind seems to wander towards imagining the moments leading up to and shortly after his death. Shawn's death was somewhat violent, but it took place in what seemed to me (when I went there) to be kind of a peaceful spot. There was s stream going by and a bike path that took him there. I find that when I'm in a quiet spot by myself or just alone with my thoughts, I often can't seem to help but to visualize his last moments. It is not pleasant and I can only hope that he found some sort of peace while he was there. The only relief I have in this is that these moments seem to be further and further apart. My hope is that they go away altogether and are replaced with moments where I only think about the good times we all had with Shawn. Don't get me wrong. I still think about the good times, but they are always tinged with a sickening sense of what Shawn had to have been enduring to make him do what he did. My heart aches to think about that. It makes me wish that he shared more of that burden. Of all of the stuff on Shawn's plate, I've gone though much of it. I'm not naive enough to believe I could have changed the outcome, but I can wish can't I?
I really feel like I should end by saying some thing's I'm going to miss about Shawn. First of all, Shawn was a person of simple tastes and he unapologetically liked the things he liked. Whether that was pepper steak or Boulevard Unfiltered Wheat. Shawn was an intelligent person who could hold forth on a lot of subjects and would hold his own in any conversation. I will also admit that when I first met him, due to his distinctive speech and screwy ideas, I thought he was a bit touched. Shawn was a bit screwy. Even though he could hold his own in a conversation, he'd often valiantly defend some hairbrained ideas. That was part of his charm and in no way a flaw. Shawn was the loudest talker I known and it got even worse if he'd had a few drinks. I'm going to miss his too loud conversations at the very important status meeting. I'm also going to miss the way he'd slap your arm with the back of his hand and then gesture to get your attention or make a point. I'm going to miss being the two slowest snowboarders on a snowboard trip and getting left behind by our friends. We'd sit in the snow and catch up on things while we caught our breath. I'm going to miss playing video games with him late into the night. It didn't happen often but it was so much fun. I'm going to miss drinking absinthe with him. I'm going to miss his smile. He was always a light in among the rest of us negative assholes.
Even though he deserves so much more, that's all I can write for the moment. Shawn, we all miss you so much. I hope I get to meet you on the reboot.