Ten years

Dear Dan,

Sometimes it seems like a minute; sometimes it seems like 100 years. I miss you as much as ever. I look back over the past ten years and wonder: how different would life be if you were still in it?

Mom would still have dementia, but probably not quite as far along as she is. The stress of your death accelerated the process. I probably would not be living with her yet, so more of my sanity would be intact. I would have more freedom to travel, even overnight.

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Serial dreams and heartache

I know why this is happening.

For the past week, every other night or so, I have dream installments. They involve Dan and he’s not dead. He just decided he didn’t care for the way his life was going and he wanted a clean break. A new start.

Dan tossed his cookies

Dan tossed his cookies

The first dream was one of those that happens when you’re just becoming conscious, but essentially still asleep.

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Anniversary

Dear Dan,

I’m going to do a cross-post here. I don’t have the heart to do two posts.

On July 25, 2007 you wrote a note at home, had a friend drive you downtown, and then jumped off a parking garage. I can’t say that I understand the thought process behind that decision, but let me speak to the last line in your note: “Suicide is painless. M.A.S.H.”

Was it? Was it really? Or was hitting the ground at high velocity a lesser pain than whatever you were going through?

Whose pain are we talking abut? Yours? Maybe it was painless. However, I think the mental anguish leading up to the actual event had to have been pretty painful.

So were you talking about the  pain of the people who love you? Then I call bullshit, bro. Nine years later and I feel that pain as intensely as I did the day you took your own life.

So life goes on. After a fashion, maybe. I look at mom. She doesn’t know what day it is and I’m not telling her. Between the dementia and the pain pills for the shingles, I’m lucky if she knows her own name. And hey, she doesn’t even remember that you committed suicide. On the days when she remembers she had a son named Dan, she thinks her daughter is that son. Yeah. Fun times.

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Tattoo

Dear Dan,

So I got this tattoo last Christmas eve. I know. I know. It’s going to be on my arm forever. That’s the whole point.

I got a semicolon. A semicolon is used when a writer could have ended the sentence, but chose to pause, and continue on. You are the author and the sentence is your life. Danny boy, you put a period on your sentence. The tattoo is to remind me of you. Like I’m going to forget? Not likely.

semicolon

I’ve struggled with depression and anxiety all my life. The tattoo also reminds me of what suicide does to the ones left behind.

As a kid, whenever something “tragic” would happen to me at school, I’d remember back several years before and tell myself that I got through that; I’d get through this. What happened to make me think, at 12 years old, that my life was over wasn’t nearly as devastating when I was 16. At 20, what happened when I was 16 didn’t shake my world any longer. That thing that happened at 12 wasn’t even on the Richter scale. Every time I think that I can’t continue, I remember the lessons of my adolescence and know that tomorrow, the pain will ease just a bit. The day after, it’ll be just a slight bit better than the day before.

The semicolon reminds me of that as well. Life is a story; don’t put a period on your story. It’s to be continued. The grammarian in me would have preferred the symbol be an ellipse, but …

A semicolon symbolizes solidarity with people who share the same struggles. The tattoo artist that did mine has done a number of them. Even though I have not seen anyone else with a similar tattoo, I know they are out there.

But the best thing? The very best — our brother lives across the street from where I got the tattoo. It was such a lovely warm day; he was sitting outside and saw me when I exited the shop. I walked over and he said, “Got a tattoo, did ya? Nik has a lot of tattoos.”

I told him what I got (it was still covered until I could get the recommended salve) and he gave me a quizzical look. I told him, “Yes. It shows my deep commitment to the use of proper punctuation.”

I heard you laugh.

I love you and miss you.

Robin Williams

Dear Dan,

Well, now you get to meet Robin Williams. I’m sorry you two couldn’t figure out another way.

I’d sort of like to be a fly on the wall for the meeting. Two of my favorite funny men, cracking jokes. I don’t know that you would actually be making the jokes, though. You would be like that poor guy during Robin’s first appearance on Inside the Actor’s Studio — the one that had to go to the hospital because he got a hernia from laughing so hard.

Robin William’s suicide brings back so many harsh memories. I feel so badly for the family he left behind. For seven years, I have been trying to do what Robin’s wife said they want to do: “It is our hope that the focus will not be on Robin’s death but on the countless moments of joy and laughter.” I wish them success with that. Mine has been modest and sporadic. Remembering the good and laughing at the funny gets easier with time, but the horror of that night never eases; it never goes away.

I love and miss you, bro.