Tuesday, May 9, 2017

How Can You Mend a Broken Heart?

Writing is one of my biggest forms of therapy, and tonight I need some therapy. But I've been sitting here for about ten minutes, sipping a glass of wine and starring at the blinking cursor on my computer wondering what to say or if I should say anything at all. It hurts a little to breathe, and I feel numb. Grief does that to me.

I should warn you I'm probably going to swear a lot. I'm so fucking sad that I can't even articulate it. Today I lost a good friend, and it's devastating. Is there a word that's means more devastating than devastating? The thesaurus gave me 'annihilating'. Yeah, that's how I feel. 

I'm typing and erasing and retyping, and I can't get it right. Bear with me as I figure out what to say. Having worked for a statewide association I know a lot of local officials. When those officials get elected to the legislature there's always a special connection, but John was different. He wasn't just a former member who was now a legislator. He and I became good buddies. He became friends with everyone, and I don't know anyone who ever spoke poorly of him. How amazing would it be to say that about so many others?

A few years ago I worked on a project in Marquette, Michigan, John's hometown. I got to hang out with him there. I had dinner with him and his lovely wife on several occasions. I got his local tour of the city. We did an editorial board meeting together with the Marquette Mining Journal. He adored his family and raved about them. It was inspiring.

At a work event with John in 2014 (to the left behind me). Always a smile on his face.
He lived around the corner from my son's daycare and would walk by and say hello to Will when they were playing outside. He joked that the daycare workers seemed concerned about this creepy guy who claimed to be Will's friend. But he won them over (like he won everyone over) in part by bringing one of his adorable St. Bernard puppies over for the kids to pet.

Will meeting Rosie, one of John's dogs, while John supervised
Anytime I was sick or in the hospital the last few years I was on the receiving end of a lecture from John. When I spent a month in the hospital in 2014 he told me he was going to send an ambulance to transport me to Marquette (six hours north) because I wasn't taking care of myself and someone needed to watch over me. Last year he called me and left me the funniest voicemail telling me that he didn't want to raise Will by himself. I laughed and later told him he wasn't exactly in the line of succession to raise Will...no offense. But John wanted to take care of others. When I was in the hospital this last time in February he texted me every day. He wanted to come visit, but I didn't feel up to visitors. Why the fuck didn't I let him visit?

Last summer when I was trying to figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up, he and I would meet in the park near our houses (he lived around the corner) and chat. He'd bring coffee, and we'd just talk about whatever. I sought his advice. He told me funny stories. Once I came straight from a run, and he told me I needed to find a new job ASAP because I was looking and smelling like a hobo. He thought that was hilarious and has teased me about it ever since. 

We were supposed to have breakfast a few weeks ago, and John was uncharacteristically late. I texted him and asked if he was standing me up, and he called and said he was sick. He sounded terrible, and I told him not to worry and we'd reschedule. I'd reschedule at some point...we had tons of time right? 

Last night I heard he was struggling, and my heart hurt. This morning I sent him a text reminding him of how he'd joked that Will wasn't going to raise himself. I told him it cut both ways, and I was worried about him. He never responded to that text.

This afternoon I didn't hear my phone buzzing. When I saw it later I had a missed call from my husband followed by a text that said "Call me". I had texts from three girlfriends, and one of them said she knew John and I were close, and that John had taken his own life. I called my husband and said, "It's not true. Tell me it's not true." He sighed and said the media was reporting that it was.

I got into my car and sat there crying for probably 20 minutes. I drove home in a fog and sat poring through social media. The posts both comforted and haunted me. Everyone loved John. Everyone. I wish I could tell him that. I wish I could tell him that he's not alone, and so many of us would do anything to help him figure it out.

It is unfathomable to me that John is no longer part of this world. As we picked our son up from daycare tonight there was a news van in front of his house. I wanted to shove the reporter and tell him to leave. I wanted to tell him it wasn't true. There's no way. 

Tonight I sit here annihilated. I am so grateful to have known John and to be one of his many friends. He was a good man, and I will be forever grateful for his friendship, his counsel, and his example. He didn't always get it right, but none of us do. He taught me that we have to own up to our mistakes and try to figure it out. Ever since I heard the news I've had Al Green's song How Can You Mend a Broken Heart stuck in my head. I wish I had the answer. 

We don't always have time to reschedule breakfast. I am going to make an effort to tell people I love them. Life is short. It's important to tell people what they mean to you. Who knows how important those words are at any point in someone's life. I wish I'd said this yesterday: I love you, John. You are a great friend, and the world is not the same without you.  

1 comment:

  1. Beautifully written Samantha. I am so sorry for your loss. Please know I am reminded by your writing to tell those I love that I love them. Love you friend. 💋