on the death of a beau

My first heartbreak – the first boy I loved. He died today; suddenly, due to suicide. The community is reeling from this – as we will, for some time to come.

I had been thinking about him just last Friday, as I sat in the shade with a friend on a bench beside two bright yellow school buses at my kids’ rural school. I have a pleasurable association with school buses singularly due to this young man; on field trips we’d sit together and flirt, and I adored him. Shortly after one such trip he broke up with me at the Aquatic Center because I was too “straight” – late-eighties parlance for not being more willing to kiss, or hold hands, or advance along those lines – and he broke my heart. I was twelve. Later that evening my father picked me up in the family 1984 Cougar and drove me home in the rain; my eyes spangled with tears and windshield diamonds as the Poison ballad “Every Rose Has Its Thorns” played on the radio. I was quiet; my father never asked why I was sad. I knew the moment was maudlin but at the same time it was very real. That wouldn’t be my last romance with the young man in question. And in this funny way that breakup toughened me up and we remained friends through the friendship, and more, that followed.

This man left behind many who loved him deeply; none more than, I suspect, his parents, his widow, and his children. I know a little about suicide and it’s a special kind of heartbreak – although any sudden and early death is hard to come to terms with.

Tonight I’m thinking of the times we spent together –¬†from my preteens on through young adulthood. Many memories are too personal to share here. This man was a wonderful man and he must have loved his family very, very much. I remember suicidal thoughts, and the memory is a spooky one: somber, serious, not even full of pain, quite-matter-of-fact. I stood at my kitchen sink and thought, “The world would be better off-“. A moment later I knew I had to call someone. It was the thought of my children:¬†impermissible. I felt numb, but I knew better.

I got through, but many do not.

This news, coming on the eve of my thirteenth wedding anniversary, touches me deeply.

Life, it seems, is not easy, and it is not fair. It doesn’t make sense, not to my mere mortal brain at least – and it doesn’t have to. I am here to comfort, and to understand – not to write the playbook.

Goodbye, dear boy. Know you were loved deeply, and by many.