"Lying in a featherbed will bring you no fame, nor staying beneath the quilt, and he who uses up his life without achieving fame leaves no more vestige of himself on Earth than smoke in the air or foam upon the water." -Dante Alighieri
Andrew killed himself today. Drove a car out of town, locked the doors, burned the cyanide, and kicked back. A painless way to go they say, but it didn't look like it. They found him the next day, a policeman broke through a window and took a face full of toxic gas. He'll live.
It's weird knowing a person, spending hundreds of hours talking, sharing and to know that voice will never speak again. Every thought and feeling shared feels a waste. I'd known him ten years, we grew up together on the same chat rooms. In a way he knew me better than my closest friends. All my likes, dislikes, hopes, hates. On a quiz of my personality he'd score top.
You don't share like that in person, frank talks about depression and loneliness. Long monologues on philosophy, art, life. Spilling the darkest parts of you soul knowing another person is reading, comprehending.
The sort of thing you share with a stranger, friend of a friend, on that first drunken meeting. But accumulating until the point you needn't ask their opinion on an topic knowing well ahead what it'd be.
It wasn't until he was gone I realised a part of me had left with him. Friends come and go but Andrew was a constant. He saw my mind develop, saw me become the person I am; in real time.
Now nobody still living can say that, and the last remnants of my teenage years are finally dead. Online he was Seadog, now his name Andrew. The Robert Poulson of our rag tag fucked up online club. Words on a page only now realised. It took his death to make him a living breathing person.
It not like it came as a shock, the cards were laid face up. That's the freedom afforded to anonymity. Although, of course, eventually the anonymity is a sham: it starts by saying what you are, and ends with who you are. Each line adding to a model of a human lacking only a name. But then birth names are given by those who don't know you, these names are how we see ourselves.
The baud masks emotions, across the wire is a fantasy land that only bears passing resemblance to the world we live in. And so notions of pain and death are abstracted, their meaning numbed and lost in the moment. A single line can frame a thought as nothing more than a wry joke.
It's easy to forget, and so I watched him slip. The darker conversations, the talk of cyanide, the casual questioning of what we'd do without him. It didn't mean much to the others but I saw it. I knew he was lonely and reckless enough, I just didn't care.
Without direct contact, everything is cold and clinical. Rationality reigns free; it's his choice, if life isn't worth living death is a reasonable answer. It's not my place to care. We're not there for each other, we're bystanders along for the ride.
Ephemeral entertainment. A lie that starts off so true you don't notice the masks slip. People often say not to blame yourself, there's nothing you could have done. Maybe it wasn't preventable, but that hardly excuses not trying. Not to extend the olive branch of true emotional connection. How is it possible to live in a world composed only of words and not truly talk about what matters the most?
When I die it'll be after a lifetime of consideration; everything I ever knew about Andrew suggests that wasn't the case. He couldn't see a future because of a broken past, he could have at least been helped if not saved. Those scrolling 3am lines blurred reality, shaped a life unable to grasp anything beyond them.
It's no different from addiction really, only the hooks sink slower and deeper. There's a reason so many us have taken that route, endemic to the medium itself. I knew all that and still sat by, I let him die in the most literal sense. I knew everything, and yet the possibility of there being another way wasn't once mentioned.
What may prove to be the biggest mistake of my life and still I don't feel guilt or heartache. Just another soul lost to the wire. They say you don't know the golden days until they're over, so too you don't truly know friendship until you're alone.
Despite instructions I'm leaving this text as is and on the front page where it belongs.
If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide, talk to them or call a hotline.