Thirteen years ago today I had a busy day. I remember very clearly that it was a Friday. I had just had the transmission replaced in my fabulous '81 Buick Century. When I picked it up, the brakes still didn't work worth a shit, so I ended up taking my mom's car to work. I was working at the college campus in the shitty convenience store they had wedged into a double-sized closet and on Fridays I had to arrive early to unload the weekly delivery truck.
The Friday before, I had gone to work aiming to win the Halloween costume contest. I showed up at work dressed as a buxom bimbo - and I neglected to take any other clothes with me so I got to go to a meeting at the radio station and hang out with my friends in the afternoon wearing my mother's skirt which I could barely pull up over my fat ass.
Despite my ridiculous attire, my best friend Paul still stopped by and dragged me out of that shithole so we could go have an ultra-healthy Marriott fried lunch nextdoor. But, the whole thing was worth it. I weathered all of the, "Holy shit that's one ugly fucking woman," comments and ended up with a gift certificate to the mall (which was promptly exchanged for a Nightmare Before Christmas soundtrack.)
But thirteen years ago was the week after Halloween. As I said before, I had a busy day. I had to go to work and unload the truck. I had to actually pick up my car after work, then I had to drive back to the college to pick up my share of band crap because we had a show that night.
My band played every year for some fraternity's benefit party. You probably know the fraternity even if you didn't go to our college -- it was the one which not only admitted girls, but didn't haze or initiate or turn anyone away. All geeks welcome.
We had one of the better (at least better attended) shows that year. I remember my brother dragged a bunch of his friends out to see us play. I remember my friend Trevor showed up toward the end of the evening. When I saw Trevor I remember that I had a brief realization that Paul hadn't met me for lunch that Friday and he had said he was going to come to the show, but I hadn't seen him there. I also remember going home and collapsing out of sheer exhaustion around 4 A.M.
Sometime early the next day, I was aware of someone knocking on my door. My stepfather was telling me to get the phone. I don't think he said who it was, but he might have said something about it being "some girl."
As I reached for the phone, I was overcome by a very real sense of dread and somehow I knew who it was and what she was going to say even before I said, "Hello?"
The phone call was from Paul's girlfriend. She told me he had shot himself the night before. I didn't have to ask if he was OK. I knew he wasn't.
I spent the next period of my life in a daze - that period lasting for around ten years. Throughout the year I would battle low periods and thoughts of suicide. The only guarantee was every year at Halloween I would become incredibly depressed and suicidal. I came very close on a few occasions, but something always stayed my hand.
A few years ago my wife talked me into seeing a counselor. I was reluctant, but I eventually gave in.
Thirteen years ago I lost my best friend. I spent the next decade of my life trying to follow his path. This year is the first time I can look back to that day and remember the songs I played with my band and the fun that we had without thinking about how, at the same time, my best friend was dying.
So on this Guy Fawkes night, do me a favor and raise a glass to your heroes whoever they may be. You can also do yourself a favor and get some help if you're being crushed by depression. Try this for a start: