I'll never be able to laugh with my friend Wayne ever again. He killed himself on Thanksgiving Day.
I only knew Wayne casually, but I knew him well enough to go to parties at his house and to have conversations with him every time I saw him.
Even though Wayne was simply an acquaintance, his death has affected me. He's the only person I've ever known who committed suicide. I'll miss him. Many of his family members are my friends, and it hurts me to know how much his death has affected them.
Wayne's youngest son ran around the funeral home during the visitation, looking for Wayne's other young son. It was obvious the boy didn't understand why he was there. But I doubt many of the adults understood why they had to be there either. I didn't, and that made it even sadder to see all the pain and all the tears.
WHAT WAYNE did was selfish and unnecessary, and I think it's OK to be angry with him. He was smart enough to know how many family members, friends and acquaintances cared about him. But instead of turning to them, he scrawled a note on the wall of his bedroom and then shot himself in the head, leaving his disfigured body behind for his sister and nephew to find.
Wayne was 32. Every time I think of him, I see the big grin he always had on his face. He was always happy when I saw him. He was always telling jokes or stories or giving someone a hard time. He was ornery. He loved to have fun. He was very much alive.
Wayne was just a loveable good ol' boy. He liked country music, hunting and fishing. He was a manager for a beer company, ran a successful deer butchering business, and was a partner in a bar that seems to be doing well. His life had barely begun.
I KNOW how many reasons Wayne had to live because I saw all the family members and friends and acquaintances who filed through the funeral home to see him one last time and to mourn. Wayne would never have done anything to hurt any of those people while he was alive. I just wish he hadn't been in so much pain that thoughts of the lives he would damage weren't enough to make him hold on to life.
I'll never understand how Wayne could possibly think suicide was his only alternative. This world is full of many other choices. Even if Wayne had made a bad choice about how to deal with his pain, like becoming an alcoholic or quitting all his jobs, at least he would have given himself the chance to eventually get help and get things straightened out.
MAYBE THERE were reasons Wayne wanted to die that I don't know about. I know he and his wife were splitting up. But I'll never understand how Wayne could think that being dead was better than being divorced.
I can't help thinking that if Wayne had somehow made it through those moments of desperation before he pulled the trigger, he would have decided not to do it.
But he didn't leave any room for second thoughts.
And he didn't give the people who want him to live a chance to argue their case.