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Friday, April 15, 2005

My friend Leo

A sad anniversary.

When I got the call from Jules’ office, my first thought was that they were calling to tell me that she had lost the baby and needed me. But I was wrong. So very wrong. Instead, I heard words I couldn’t bring myself to believe: Leo killed himself this morning. He shot himself in his car.

Leo was my friend Jules’ fiancé, soul mate and best friend. She met him two weeks after I convinced her to move down to DC with me from Boston. I didn’t want to like him. In fact, I was pretty resentful of him at first, because she fell for him hard, and all of a sudden there was this guy who was always in my house.

Little by little though, he won me over. He was just so damn charming, and sweet and funny. He would tease me and call me his B.B. (butt buddy) because I’ve got a bit of an ass, and he was an ass man. I would tease him about the fact that we met him at Tracks (a gay club). We were both Redskins fans, although I couldn’t come close to his knowledge of football. He loved PlayStation and the Harry Potter books. He was raised a Baptist (and a full-on Southern Baptist at that) but he also believed in reincarnation. And he had the greatest laugh. You couldn’t resist Leo when he laughed.

But when he was down, he was really, really down. I knew of at least one other time that he tried to kill himself. Jules and I had even talked about how worried she was about how depressed he had been. I guess we couldn’t conceive of him actually doing it. He was so excited about the baby on the way, and he had told her he would get help, for his own sake, for her sake, and for their baby’s sake. But for some reason, on that day he gave up.

I don’t know quite how to express what it is like to realize that someone you care about has chosen not to exist anymore. It’s like getting punched so hard you can’t breathe, while adrenaline rushes through your body like you’re about to go over a cliff. You can’t sit still. You want to go rushing out to change things, to fix things, to undo the undoable somehow. You’re sad. You’re hurt. And you’re angry. But of course, there isn’t anything you can do.

To anyone who ever has a friend that they are worried about, I say – don’t hesitate. Don’t worry about hurting their feelings. Don’t think they won’t follow through. If you think your friend needs help, get it for them. Better safe than sorry.

And to anyone who has ever considered suicide, I say this: Don’t. Just please, get help. Don’t think that the people you leave behind will be better off without you. What they’ll be is sad, and angry and bewildered and left trying to fill the gaping hole where you should be. I’ve been horribly depressed. There was a time in my life when I thought, well, someday I might decide I’m tired of living like this. But instead I got help, and my life got better. I wish I had talked to Leo about that more, about how life is so completely different when you come of out of a depression, it’s like you’re a different person. I don’t know if it would have made a difference or not. When you’re in that hole, it is awful hard to see out.

So instead all I can say to Leo now is, I wish you were here. I miss you. We all do. It is devastatingly sad that you never got to meet your son Malcolm, to see how wonderful he is. And equally as sad that he will only ever know you through our stories. You should see what an amazing mom Jules is, and the life she’s built for herself and Malcolm. I’m sorry that life got so hard you couldn’t go on, and that we couldn’t help you. That you didn’t know that we all would have done whatever it took to help you. I hope with all my being that your next life is one of much joy and peace, and no pain.