Warren

I haven’t posted since the election, but not because I am still in shock that we elected a reality teevee star preznit. I am still in shock, but that is not why I haven’t been posting. Nor is the fact that I have been busy fortifying the Abandon Mythology Command Bunker in preparation for the coming shit storm remodeling my basement. Or that I am battling my annual winter-long cough due to cold.

No, the reason I haven’t been posting is I have been feeling down. Way down. More than just low-light, winter solstice SAD. A couple of days before the election, one of my oldest friends committed suicide, and it really set my mind reeling. I haven’t slept well since. Many nights I wake for my 2 AM piss break and cannot return to sleep because my brain comes alive with memories.

I knew Warren since high school, so almost 40 years. For 15 of those years he was married to my sister. Back in the day, when we were brothers-in-law, Warren and I spent a lot of time together, both working and playing. But honestly, when you are young and strong, hard work with a good friend is almost more fun than play.

We would roof a house over a weekend for side money, or pull the motor of a car on a Friday night, knowing that motor had to be rebuilt and back in the car, running, by Monday morning, so someone could get to work and not get fired. We spent untold hours in his garage arguing the merits of Ford versus Chevy, irrespective of whose old shitter we were currently wrenching on.

Those times didn’t seem all that important or significant when they were happening. Just a couple of guys in their 20s figuring life out, sharing the struggle. But it is mostly those memories that come back to me now as I lie sleepless watching the night drain away on my bedside clock. It is only in hindsight that I recognize how foundational those memories are to the man I later became, to the man I am now.

Warren and I drifted apart after he and my sister split. We still saw each other a few times a year, but we weren’t close like we had been. I was busy raising a family and he was busy doing what many middle-aged men do when their marriage blows up, so our lives didn’t overlap that much. I saw him often enough to know he drank too much, gained too much weight, and wasn’t happy in his second marriage, which ultimately failed.

The other memory that comes to me in the night is my last conversation with Warren, about a week before he died. I don’t know if it is my survivor’s remorse or I genuinely missed an opportunity to keep my old friend around a while longer. I knew he was struggling with depression, and I know what a roller coaster ride that is. But I knew about Warren’s problems secondhand. He had not shared this information with me. As a result, I bumped up against the line between casual and serious conversation, hoping he would open up to me, but I did not cross that line. I can’t help wondering if a little more effort on my part right in that moment would have made a difference.

Proud atheist that I am, I believe everyone’s life belongs to them, and to them alone, so I respect the individual right to end one’s life. I reserve that right for myself, as we all do, since it is truly a right that cannot be taken from us. In Warren’s case, I would just like to have had the opportunity to present an argument.

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