by, 11-20-2011 at 12:29 AM (1278 Views)
I failed my friend, Jon.
We were great friends in college. How he made me laugh. I didn't even know at the time how much I appreciated a completely bent sense of humor. But I laughed. Non-stop. Some of the best days of my life. If you think I'm bent, you have Jon, at least in part, to thank.
But even then, there were times when he would shut everyone out. I knew something wasn't right. I knew he was struggling. I knew he was hurting. But I was wrapped up in the things I was doing... Studying, singing, practicing the piano... It was always all about me.
Jon died on Friday. Complications of lupus. But that wasn't really the problem. At least as how I see it. Jon battled depression all of his life. He was never particularly happy. During most of our college days, he was doped up on prescription meds. That was back in the late 80s. Some of his best quips were about codeine and other meds he was taking. I laughed, of course.
But I shouldn't have.
Jon would always show up at class but otherwise manage to disappear. Jon only showed up at moments here or there to make me laugh with his wicked sense of humor. He ALWAYS made me laugh. He was my roommate during the European choir tour. The night I got really sick in Sweden, he was there. The day my eyes swelled shut in Estonia from eye infections and I flushed my contacts down the toilet, he was there.
After college, we talked sparingly, the last time being about 10 years ago. He told me he had lupus. In spite of it, we laughed. But perhaps I wasn't really paying attention. Because we never talked after that. I called. Left messages. I sent emails. They were never answered.
I can't help but wonder if I didn't give him what he needed at the time.
And it's too late now.
Jon is dead. He was put into the ground today.
I failed Jon. I should have been more persistent. I should have done more to draw him out, to get him to talk, to encourage him to get help... But as often happens when people "shut down" emotionally, you walk away, wash your hands of it, and say, "Hey, I did what I could."
But I really didn't. I could have done much more. I just wasn't persistent enough.
I know I couldn't have saved Jon from his lupus. But I also know that I could have done more to make his suffering less--at least emotionally, to have been there for him when it mattered most, to have let him know that, no matter how twisted he was, no matter how much he was hurting, someone cared. That someone was there for him in those last moments. That someone was INVESTED in HIM.
But I didn't. I didn't do any of those things. I went on about my life. I just let him go. He died. Alone. Hurting. Alone. In hospice. Alone. Probably wondering, "Why did I shut everyone out?"
He probably died blaming himself.
But I know full well that I failed my friend Jon.