Till death baby

"I'd never thought I would have to say goodbye to my best friend in my 20's. I dreamed of us growing old and grey together, being those crude oldies who drink too much beer at bingo and hit on the youngens. Saying goodbye broke my heart but I know you are in a better place now and we will spend time together in my dreams darling."
 
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D and I met 10 years ago. We knew a lot of the same people and kept crossing each other’s paths. 2 years later we started working together and quickly became friends. I soon found out there was a darkness in his soul that had been eating him up from the inside out since he was 14. We talked and talked this over and whenever it became too much for him he knew he could turn to me for support and I would drop anything and everything to help him through the pain. At times this looked like going for a hike in the bush or him turning up to my place in the middle of the night and talking for hours or crying uncontrollably or sometimes getting Indian takeout and sitting at the beach in silence. As someone who has never experienced depression I couldn’t begin to comprehend the anxiety or the paranoia or the desperation he was feeling but he knew that and that was ok because he knew I was always there to listen and help him to work through it and see the light. We always came through. Whenever he’d been so stuck in the dark thoughts in his head I knew and would physically, emotionally and virtually be showing my support and love for him and providing strength for him to lean into and provide comfort from the storm he was living through in his head. 

There were times where we were driving along the highway and he jumped out of my car and ran away to try to clear his head. Times I sent my kid sister to his house with no explanation, just me insisting that she went to check he was alive. Times where he’d ask me to come over at 3am and just be with him. Times where he’d leave a party without telling anyone, sending me into a panic just to find him at home with a beer listening to Chet faker by himself. 

There were also times he’d have me crying with laughter for hours. Times where he watched his friends around him with so much love in his eyes, just sitting apart from us, capturing our memories with his camera. Times where I’d be hungover and feeling sorry for myself and he’d turn up to my house unannounced and take me for a bush walk or a swim to help me get over myself. Times where he’d come over and do my laundry or bring me a coffee or write me a note saying how much he loved me. Times where he’d help our friends who started their own small businesses until the wee hours of the morning. Times where he’d turn up at dinner time to our friends’ houses who had young families and tore the kids out, bath them, put them to bed. Times where he’d run marathons for charity. All this without anyone asking anything of him, just everyday actions in his life for the love of supporting his people. 

There were four of us who were together always, we worked together, we went for weekly dinners, for hiking trips. We were a pack. 

 

I was on the way back from a friend’s wedding and received a teary phone call from one of our friends saying there was a man missing in the town D was living in and no one could get a hold of him. (I’d been in indo up until now and hadn’t sorted my NZ phone out so he’d called another friend he knew I was with. I then linked up to her hotspot and was inundated by messages from all of his family asking if I’d heard from him or could get in touch with him).  Knowing D, we immediately feared the worst but this was of course coupled with the doubt that it could actually be him. You know, the sort of thing that happens in mystery novels but not to your best mate. I hung up the phone. I checked the news online and read that he had last been seen by a lake. Instantly I panicked, knowing he couldn’t swim. Almost in that same second that I knew, the friend called back and told me they’d retrieved the body and identified him. He was gone. It seemed surreal and I got back home and went straight to see the friend who had called me. Another friend came around and then we went to another friends. There were so many people that were so close to D, to me, to us, mourning our gigantic loss that after my car ride home I sucked up my own tears and dried everyone else’s. Staying at his dads place to keep him company, going around to the boys flat for beers and to tell stories about our boy. To barbecues at the beach. To friends’ houses who’d flown home from all over the world to come together to mourn our loss and celebrate the beautiful life that we got to be a part of. 

I worked the rest of the summer away and then went back to indo before I carried on my travels. But indo wasn’t the carefree place I’d come back to, or rather, I wasn’t so carefree anymore. For two of my last three months there, Dave had come to visit. Initially planning to stay three weeks and staying almost 9. So, returning to my favourite place on earth where I’d spent so much time with my favourite person who was no longer walking this Earth bought up a whole lot of emotions that I’d pushed aside in order to look after the ones I loved who were in pain around me. But the lovely thing about Bail is that there is such a high vibration of energy there that the despair and grief that I would be overcome by would pass as quickly as it came on. I had so much love and support around me that I got through that second wave of grief. I am now in Europe and have just had a break down that really shocked me. A full 8 months later and being overcome by hysterical tears you can’t control is pretty confronting. Especially in a place where you aren’t surrounded by love and support in your immediate physical body. A day hasn’t gone by where I haven’t thought about him. But some days are easy and some aren’t. That’s true across all of life, not just grief and loss. Everyone’s experiencing highs and lows. We just have to ride them eh. 

 

Mental health is now making headlines in one form or another more often than ever. And for good reason. Suicide rates are sky rocketing worldwide and there are so many small things we can do to stop this rise and once we realize this power, humanity will take a huge positive turn. A question we ask every single day could change someone’s day if asked with intention. Asking someone “how are ya?” Has become almost an automatic greeting rather than the conversation starter it once was. Asking it and meaning it and being ready to listen to the answer will certainly change someone’s day and you have no idea the effect that has on not only that person, but to everyone they then interact with. We need to remember and re realize the power our words have. 

Everyone is dealing with their own issues and whether their issues seem small in comparison to yours or not should NOT make them less significant in your mind. Have compassion towards everyone you come across and see how your world changes. From opening a door for someone with their hands full to offering up your seat on the bus to smiling at someone who looks a little gloomy, the smallest things can make the biggest differences in people’s lives and can cost you nothing.

I’m a massive believer in breaking boundaries and stigmas and normalizing struggles in our lives. Not belittling them by any means, but rather sharing the burden and coming together to support one another through the tough times life can throw at us. Ask “how are you?” With genuine feeling and listen to the response and be open to respond honestly and be raw with your loved ones as well as with strangers. Nothing good comes from being closed.

Communication changes and saves lives. We all could do with waking up a bit and taking ownership for our own mental/spiritual/emotional well-being as well as that of people around us. Whether it’s the suit you make a long black for at 8.27am every morning or the mum and bub you walk past on the beach every evening or your boss or your aunt or your grandparents or your little sisters’ best friend. LITERALLY EVERYONE IS FEELING SOMETHING. 

Spread love and be kind, lovers.