Saturday, August 8, 2015

Last Year's Funerals

     It's been over a year since I've written anything here. Life has been crazy. I've made a record, played some great shows, planned a tour, gotten a new job, and moved back into civilization. Along the way I've met some wonderful new people, and have also removed some terrible ones from my life. I've done a little bit of writing for a music website, but mostly just reviews, nothing really personal aside from the Dystopia piece that a few of you read.

     Over the course of the last week, there has been a lot of talk on the ugly subject of suicide among many people close to me. A local artist and musician chose to take his own life, and quite a few people I know have been left feeling hurt and confused. I did not know this man, though his name and face were familiar to me. I lost someone close to me to suicide many years ago, and after all this time there's not a day that goes by that he doesn't cross my mind. I held onto a lot of anger, and even more guilt, over his death for a over a decade.

     After all those years went by, I finally let go of a lot of those feelings in the only way I knew how, I wrote a song about it. While writing a song about suicide might seem like a depressing experience, this one actually has a story of hope surrounding it. It's a story about two people who will never meet, but they share the common bond of having made their attempt to end their life on the same date, 9 years apart.

     I've written about Phil on numerous occasions and I feel like most people know his story well enough. It's a part of the past that I will never fully come to terms with. I'll always wonder what could have been had he not chosen to end his young life. Years later, I had another friend who was dealing with a lot of stress and depression in her life. This was someone far away, someone I couldn't be there for as much as I would have liked. I tried hard to talk to her every day, but her life seemed to spiral more and more out of control every time we spoke. Despite everything, she would still let me know she was still there, even on the days that she was pissed off and didn't want to talk at all. Then came the ominous silence that I knew all too well. It was November 17, 2011, the 9th anniversary of Phil's death, and suddenly I felt like another person had left this world for good.

     I tried frantically to get some news, but it was hard since we didn't have many mutual friends. I finally received word the next day that she had been taken to a local hospital and was alive. After she was treated and stabilized, they kept her under supervision due to her mental state. It was a few weeks before I was able to talk to her. I couldn't even imagine what I'd say, even if I could talk to her. It had been so hard all those years before knowing I would never talk to Phil again, I never thought about what it would be like to speak to someone who had consciously made the decision to take their own life, yet were still alive.

     It was difficult at times, especially when I watched her continue to make the same bad decisions that had led her down that path to begin with. However, as time went by, I saw things start to change. Little things, usually, but noticeable to me. I watched her find new things that were important to her, find some direction and meaning for her life. Time went by and we remained close, despite some horrific fights on occasion. We both had our rough patches, but in the end of 2013 it had been two years since her suicide attempt and she was like a completely new person. I talked to her as I walked to work one day and she was telling me all about her plans for her upcoming wedding and all the great things she had going on. We had both lost some people and had a tough year, so it was nice to have such a positive conversation. I can't remember which of us said it, but I believe the exact words were, "isn't it nice to be talking about a wedding next year, instead of all of last year's funerals?"

     So that's where that song came from. I wanted to explain it, rather than just print the lyrics. The song is more about the negative effects, the questions and guilt I held onto over Phil's death all those years ago. I wanted everyone to know that it was written with an underlying theme of hope. That's what the title means to me. The point of all of this is that I know a lot of people who suffer from depression and anxiety. I think that's why I gravitate towards the people I do, I guess we're all a little self destructive in one way or another. I also know that there have been many, many times when I've felt like throwing in the towel, and the only reason I didn't was that I knew what it would do to those that I left behind. That knowledge will only keep you around for so long. At some point, for way too many people, there comes a time when worrying about others doesn't seem as important as worrying about all the things that seem to be suffocating you every waking moment. It's these times that you have to remember that one tiny change can make a whole world of difference. One little thing going right can turn everything around. There are gonna be times when that doesn't even seem possible at all, that there is no way anything will get better. These are the times when you need to reach out to someone and have them be the ones to keep you going. Every single person, I don't care who you are, every single person has someone whose life would be worse if they weren't around. The best thing you can do in life is learn who those people are. They'll get you through the worst parts of life and be there with you for the best.

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