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katehaney

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06:00 am: losing a dream
Not mine. This will be a teeny bit less navel-gazing than usual.

A family friend killed himself this week. I felt pretty close to him 25 or 30 years ago. I cleaned for him; he had a guest house and a linen phobia. He would sit in the living room and play his guitar while I cleaned. It felt like a happy, quiet partnership. We didn't talk all that much and I suppose it would be over-reaching to call us real friends, but I enjoyed his company and I think he enjoyed mine. He was certainly happy to have someone else make the beds!

He got married a while later and had a baby. His son was the first baby to whom I really felt attached. But I went off to college and grew up and apart and away.

They lived very near my parents, so I saw them fairly often, but rarely got the chance (or inclination) to do more than chat. Our friend and his wife had a very loud, contentious, alcohol-fueled marriage that spilled uncomfortably into the neighborhood. They are (were) good people, but troubled. Difficult neighbors, even after they got sober.

I occasionally thought nostalgically about the peaceful, uncomplicated work of being a chambermaid, and the genuine pleasure I got from his musical accompaniment. It was clear, though, that those years were long passed. And that was fine. Even without the volatility, I'd long since moved on. As compelling as it might seem when I think about the simplicity of a job I could leave at work, I wouldn't be happy. I know that.

Our friend's work was his house, however. He couldn't leave it at the end of the day. In fact, he did massive renovations, pouring money and effort into upgrades. It was his retirement; he planned to sell it for a huge profit and move to Florida for his golden years.

Still, he'd sometimes sit on the back deck in the evening and play the guitar.

The housing market tanked just as he was ready to sell, and he made very little on the sale. Nowhere near enough to retire on. He moved anyway, apparently started drinking again. And killed himself.

Well, shit.

It doesn't feel personal to me, because it had been so long since I felt close to him. But what a tragedy! He was a talented man. He worked so hard to achieve his dream. He got sober. He was a good person who deserved a break. He lost his dream because of bad luck and worse timing. I don't know that that's why he took his life. Maybe I imagined the heartbreak I saw when he talked about it. I don't know.

I especially feel for his son, whom I like very much, though I don't know him very well at all any more. But I saw the joy his father took in him, the awe for the tiny baby he created, the chuckles at his toddler antics, the confusion in conversation with a teenager, the pleasure in finding an adult who was a peer.

Still, he left his son. I can't imagine the pain he must have felt, making that decision, nor the pain his son must feel as a result.

Shit, shit, shit.

Current Location: Boston
Current Mood: sadsad

Comments

[User Picture]
From:occhi_cinesi
Date:July 18th, 2008 06:44 pm (UTC)

yucky

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What a yucky thing to have to process, for you, for his son, but for you. I feel bad too, for people who make this decision but it feels crummy to have to 'witness' it. For the people left behind, it sucks.
[User Picture]
From:katehaney
Date:July 18th, 2008 07:37 pm (UTC)

yucky all around

(Link)
It's easier on me than others in my family, because I haven't been close to the family friends in so long. And I don't know what to say or do to help them cope. :sigh:
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