segunda-feira, 10 de outubro de 2016

Farewell to a friend

Sometimes life throws us a curve ball every now and then. We try and prepare ourselves and plan ahead for a number of things, but we can't always prepare for all possible scenarios. Sometimes life just hands you hard things to deal with and you can't simply ignore them. Sometimes people pass away.

I have an account on Wattpad where I'm trying to write a story for the past 10 months or so. I've mainly used it as a way to vent my feelings and thoughts into fictional manner, a way to purge my inner demons. In that story there is one character that only appears seldomly and acts as a faux-narrator of the whole story. Someone who is not bound by the common laws of the story and can oversee the whole of the story and comment on it. Basically that character is me analyzing my whole life and commenting on it.

On one of the few chapters that character appears he says this:

Grief and sadness are also constituent parts of life. As every bit as important as love and happiness and joy. We often don't see them as serving any purposes other than hurting us. Through them, though, is how we grow. How we evolve and learn to be more resilient. How we learn to empathize and sympathize with others.  

I first wrote that on February 2016. It was meant to address several things in my life that wasn't, and still aren't, good. It was my way of accepting that despite all of that sadness and grief there were valuable lessons to be learned about myself and people around me and the world in general. I would never guess it would also serve to make me accept a bit more the loss of someone dear.

Online friendships are a strange kind of thing. You never met that person in real life but you can sometimes find a connection to people like never before. They share your same interests or basically are just the same in terms of some inborn condition. The likeness can make you feel more close than with anyone else in your life before. Because so far you have basically hidden who you really are from all real life people around you. Talking online though makes showing your true self far easier, and makes you connect to others far easier as well since you are knowing their true selves.

One person I met on all this time I've been part of an online community is Eric Newman. I say is even though I believe he is gone. I say is but then switch to was sometimes. My mind doesn't seem to fully comprehend yet that he is gone. Maybe it is just trying to hold on to the hope that he is still around and unable to reply to my messages. Maybe he will waltz in that online community in a few weeks and say "I'm back, the reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated!".

Eric was my friend. He was a news editor who had lost his job in the business once news paper business started to decline. He was a great person, with a great sense of humor. The fatherly type kind of guy, probably more so towards me given our age difference. He was close to 60 and I just turned 30. He always had a kind word, a piece of advice, a tidbit of wisdom to share with me. He loved The Beatles (something that should be mandatory for all people).

Eric was also someone who struggled with his Bipolar Disorder. He had been taking a plethora of medications in order to help him manage that. He mentioned to me how, as of lately, he had been having trouble getting in contact with his psychiatrist, who was ill at the time, and how even getting his prescriptions were a bit of a bother.

On late August and early September Eric was admitted to a psychiatric ward. As he said he had made the mistake of telling the wrong people he was having suicidal ideations. He spent almost a week inside and as he got out there were some medications changes for him. I can't help but wonder if those didn't have any influence in his decision.

You see, on the 29th of September I received a message from him. The title was "This is the end". I can't help but wonder now if it was a reference to The Doors song, but I can't remember if he even liked The Doors. In that message Eric told me about his decision to take his own life. To end it all. He gave his reasons and asked me to hold on to that news until the 3rd, or 4th, of October. In another one of life's infinite ironies I ended up only reading his message on the 5th of October. In a way, I respected his last wish inadvertently. 

I am know left confused, in shock and in grief. How does one pay his respects to someone they never met in real life? Someone you will never get a chance to visit his grave and say farewell? To someone you liked and have come to call a friend, a good friend, despite never ever seeing his face?

One thing though that I will never forget is his voice. Man, he has a voice you wouldn't believe. James Earl Jones might even have had to make a run for his money if he had met Eric. I know he has an ex-wife but I am not sure if he had children. I know, what kind of friend am I if I don't even know those basic things. Eric though was the sort of person that primarily a listener. He would hear you out and help you deal with your problems, but he was terrible at talking about himself and his issues.

As I've gone over all our conversations I can't help but notice that never he asked for help, or an advice or an insight on his situation. I know he was struggling to pay rent and had a low paying job in a pharmacy in the night shift. I know he had a heart condition in July and had to put a stent to fix that. Due to that he ended up not working for a few days and that took a toll on his finances. On his farewell notes he mentions how money problems was one of the reasons he was doing this. Another was his estranged family but I don't know why that was so (him being estranged from family I mean).

Still... this post is meant to be a farewell and in a way it was also some sort of tribute to him. In my personal belief a person is not truly gone as long as there is someone to remember them. Someone that from time to time stops and reminiscence about the person that is now gone. Memories are eternity in my views. My sister is not truly gone because I carry her around with me. My grandpas and grandmas aren't really gone because they are in my mind and heart. My friends who have departed are still alive in my memories and thus aren't far from me, they are just one thought away. Now Eric is also one thought away. Eric is now part of the collective of people I carry around with me, people that I will never forget and that will never be truly dead. At least not until I'm gone.

Eric was the person that encouraged me to share my blog with others. I had kept it a secret for a long time, not wanting to share it with the online community he and I belonged to. Not sure why I didn't want to share. I don't really recall right now. Still he read my articles and gave me both feedback and praise. It felt great to know that someone thought they were worth the read. Then he offered to use his skills as a news editor and edit my posts. Fix the punctuation marks and the bad grammar. He did that overnight and I was impressed how easily the text was much better. He never allowed me to give him credit for that. Said "Copy editors never get credit by name".

Eric, please allow me to now say you were the one responsible for this blog being more public. Please allow me to say that you were the first, and probably last, editor of this blog. Please allow me to say thank you for both of those things. Please allow me to say that I will miss you. Please allow me to say that I cared for you and I hope that whatever you are, you are at peace. Please forgive me for all my faults as your friend for not noticing something was wrong. I wish I could have seen things that now seem so obvious. Please allow me to call myself your friend.

Thanks for everything. I will miss you. Good bye.

- Lucas

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