A Depressive Named Laughing Boy

photo by Dude With Camera via PhotoRee

One night about six years ago, I was sitting at the computer (as I am, admittedly, often want to do), when something inside urged me to Google Crowded House, the phenomenal Melbourne, Australia-based band that had split up a decade prior. I don’t know what made me do it, but I entered the search term and clicked on “Groups” so I could read the most current message board and newsgroup discussions.

What I found took my breath away for a minute or so. Just a couple of weeks earlier, their former drummer, Paul Hester, had committed suicide in a Sydney park while out walking his dogs.

I devoured article after article that night, thinking no way is this happening. It can’t be.

Perhaps one reason this bit of news struck me the way that it did is because I have a personal connection to suicide.

I was sleeping in one morning during my first fall semester in college when my mom suddenly burst through my bedroom door and announced, breathlessly, that she had to run to the high school where my brother was a senior. “I have to go,” she told me, “Mike killed himself this morning”.

Mike was a guy both my brother and I had befriended. I would go so far as to say he and A were best friends. Mike was very tall and lanky (with size 15 feet!) and immensely likeable, always with a smile. I had taken a guitar class with him,, and he and A were practically inseperable.

The night before he died, Mike had started a job at a local fast food place and had wrapped up his first shift. He was just a few weeks into his senior year and was looking forward to finishing school, moving into his own place and whatever else lay ahead for him. He had also recently reunited with his girlfriend.

When my mom had said the words “Mike killed himself” I immediately questioned her. “You mean accidentally? Like he wrecked his car?” I could not comprehend him deliberately ending his own life.

I spent the next hour and a half fretting at home about what this all meant. My brother’s best friend was dead and I had no idea why. I was 18 years old and just beginning my adult life and this guy who was a year younger than me had suddenly and without warning finished his life. Nothing about it made sense and I sat in the huge house, alone, my head spinning.

When my mom finally came home, she was in tears. “Oh N… he hung himself”, she cried. And we hugged.

That night, I dreamt about Mike. I was shopping at a local grocery store I’d never set foot in and he was standing in the middle of one of the aisles. He was crying and told me repeatedly how sorry he was. I assured him it was OK and he said he was fine and would continue to be fine. The next morning I felt somehow peaceful about his death and I never again had a dream about him, although I have since visited the grocery store in my dream and it looks more or less the same as it had in the dream.

About two years after I read the news of his death, I also dreamt about Paul Hester. This time I found myself standing on the porch of an expansive mansion on the waterfront in Sydney. When he answered the door, he exclaimed “N! What are you doing here?” and invited me in for a cup of tea, over which he told me he was doing “very well” (afterwards, I learned that, in his life, Paul Hester had owned a tea house). I woke up from that dream with a similar feeling of peace.

I have no idea why all the dreams – I had a nightmare about Kurt Cobain the night after he died – unless my subconscious felt the need to work something out. All these years later, I still don’t know what. I only know that we are all on this planet together, attempting to survive, some finding it much more difficult than others.

It was pointed out to me recently that depression happens when our problems become so large that the entire world is minuscule by comparison. If there is anything in this life worth doing, it should be to help decrease and shrink the problems of others, as much as possible.

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” – Plato

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7 Responses to A Depressive Named Laughing Boy

  1. I knew Mike, too — he was part of the BBS scene and was one of the users on my board, and was close friends with several of my friends. His suicide upset all of us so, so much. It made no sense and seemed to come out of nowhere. I’m so sorry you went through it, too.

    • nlguy says:

      What a small world! I thought he was a great guy, and my brother was DEVASTATED when he died. He had wanted to swing by Mike’s house after his shift and see how it went but my parents put him on a curfew. I know he beat himself up for not just going anyway. 😦

    • nlguy says:

      And I’m sorry to hear about you and your community too… were you at the funeral?

      • Yeah, a bunch of us were there. We all went out to the beach afterward and kind of had our own memorial, too. It was rough. I think for all of us (my community and yours) it was a reminder of just how mortal we are, and how fallible. Considering we were all teenagers at the time (well, I think I might have been 20 by then), that’s a pretty mind-blowing thing to realize. I’d had friends die before, but I’d never had one take his own life, and that took a lot of getting used to.

      • nlguy says:

        It certainly seemed to make a big impression on everyone I know who knew him. I will never again be able to hear “Silent Lucidity” without thinking about him and about the events of that day.

  2. Linda says:

    Beautiful post. There’s a whole new level of scariness and confusion to suicide than just death. How heartbreaking for Mike’s family as well as your family and everyone that knew him.

    Thanks for your comment on my blog about Paul 🙂 It’s just crazy that it’s been six years, I still feel like it’s only been one or two.

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