By John Clise
A friend of mine took his life earlier this year. I’ve been processing it… the loss, what it means, my support of their action, all of that, and I’m sure more that I am not aware of consciously.
Our lives have been intertwined through friendship, family, and I don’t know what else since junior high school. They were the year ahead of me in school.
I know that every time I was about to do something dumb there they were there with arms crossed, and a furrowed brow to show displeasure. I’m not really sure how that always worked out that way. Magic, maybe. I do not know.
As to why they chose to end their life… I do not know. I don’t need to know. I don’t love them any less. I do not believe they went to Hell. I suspect they were in some sort of great pain.
I could write volumes on the clinical reasons and studies regarding why people commit suicide. In truth, none of that matters to me. All that matters is that my friend is gone. I feel no curiosity as to the why. I feel no guilt as to it happening. I feel the loss of my friend. I feel joy reflecting on our friendship. I feel sadness it won’t actively continue in the future.
I remember the tongue lashing he gave our English class my freshman year after 70% of the class blew a quiz completely. He was a 10th grader repeating freshman comp because he “thought it was all a big joke” like we all apparently did. They went on for a good five minutes mostly yelling at us all for being careless, and not taking class seriously. The teacher just let them go. Didn’t say a word. I will say this, every person in that particular class got at least a C. There were no 10th grade repeaters.
Throughout our adult lives we continued our friendship. Sometimes we went a year or two without talking, but we were always in the same orbit.
This is the last text they sent me.
I am doing good for my age. Lol. I hope you are doing well and everything is following suit for you and yours. I am glad we spent some time together as we grew up. It means we did something right when we were young and makes us thankful for each other now. God bless and I wish nothing but the best for you and your family. Thank you for taking the time to text me it always means a lot to hear from an old friend.
And here is the last social media message they sent me.
Hey young man, don’t think I don’t think about you because Scott isn’t here. I still do, and like your humor.
It always brightened my day get a message or a text.
These lyrics popped into my head when I got the news.
We are stardust, we are golden
We are billion-year-old carbon
And we’ve got to get ourselves
Back to the garden
These lyrics from the song Woodstock, written by Joni Mitchell, and covered most famously by Matthew’s Southern Comfort, always brings me peace. I’m not sure why. Hope, I guess, for the future that we can all be free again. I hope my friend has found freedom. I say that with all of my heart.
When someone takes their own life, there is invariably one or more who come along spewing religious puke about the person being a good person but went to Hell because they committed suicide. That judgement should be left to God in those religious arguments, rather than to cause guilt, or put shame on the survivors.
It doesn’t seem to me the Bible condemns suicide. The six accounts of suicide in the Bible, that I know of, include that of King Saul (1 Samuel 31:2-5) and Judas (Matthew 27:3-5). Others are Abimelech (Judges 9:50-54), Samson (Judges 16:23-31), Ahithophel (2 Samuel 17:23), and Zimri (1 Kings 16:15-20). As far as I can tell, none of the six is explicitly condemned for taking their life.
Wherever you are my friend, I hope this finds you well and at peace.