Monday, March 9, 2009
Yesterday, my former wife Susan reminded me that it is coming up to six months from when a very good friend of ours, Kevin, threw himself in front of a train. He was 28.
Four and a half years ago, when I was in my second marriage, I was facilitating a DBSA support group in Princeton, NJ. In walked Kevin, exuding a goofy charm, baseball cap on backward. But there was something about his presence that indicated he was no mere goofball. The others in the room felt it, too.
Over the weeks, I couldn't help but be impressed by the way Kevin carried himself. He would walk up to newcomers and introduce himself and start up a conversation. In the group, he was a great listener, dispensing the wisdom of a sage, leavened by a keen sense of humor.
It was amazing to observe him with people much older. At once, he was deferential, compassionate, and exuding great authority. You simply forgot you were talking to someone much younger. You simply wanted to be around him, laugh with him, seek advice from him.
He had his setbacks, his dark moments. Yet, over time - in group, over coffee, over sandwiches, hanging out - I watched him blossom. With his extraordinary people skills, the sky was the limit.
In late 2006, my marriage broke up. Kevin was the first to offer me support. He also reached out to Susan.
Suddenly, I had my life in seven or eight FedEx cartons and a one-way ticket to San Diego. I popped into the DBSA group one last time. Kevin was facilitating. He gave me a heartfelt tribute. I felt the goodness in the man. Goodness, true goodness. That was the last time I saw him alive.
He had so much to live for, so much to offer. Yet, on a miserable muggy New Jersey morning, his brain tricked him into believing otherwise. Six months later, Susan and I, plus all those he left behind, are still dealing with it.
I've been suicidal. So has Susan. We fully understand, yet - we totally don't understand.
My way of coping was this suicide prevention video, "The Road to Nowhere." The message is simple: Don't be fooled. You are really somewhere. I shot it two or three weeks after the horrible news.
Kevin, you still shine a light on the world. Nothing - nothing - is ever going to extinguish it.