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I failed

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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.

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  1. ponchi101's Avatar
    I will not contradict what you have written, Dry, because it is you feeling the pain. And the pain is sincere.
    But you write that you did try to contact Jon. You e-mailed. You called. You left messages. So maybe indeed you failed.
    But I can also read in here that you tried.
    Thanks for sharing. Hope you will come out stronger from this, in the way that suits you best.
  2. Jay's Avatar
    After my friend Sam passed away, I started to think that I failed her as well. I noticed that she seemed "off" and lethargic the night she passed away, and I knew she was going to do more drugs when she got to her girlfriend's flat, but I didn't say anything. I kept wondering how differently that night would have turned out had I told her not to do anything more that night. But friends and I already told her before to take it easy and not do so many drugs before.

    Not that this would change your opinion, but what I'm trying to say is that, of course, everyone could ALWAYS do more than what they've done, but you can't blame yourself for others shutting you out and not accepting when people try to reach out to them. All you can do is just hope that what you've done is enough and that you get through to them.

    Anyway, I'm sorry about your friend. . My sincerest condolences.
  3. atlpam's Avatar
    Very sorry to hear about the loss of your friend. Reaching out and getting through to someone with depression can be difficult, even if you live in the same house. It is obvious that you wish you could have done more and probably always will, so I will just say that you are in my thoughts as you deal with this tragedy.
  4. dryrunguy's Avatar
    Just wanted to say thanks for the kind words. I am much better now. It always helps me to "get things out"...
  5. kandi's Avatar
    Dry, I just now read your blog - and my heart aches for you and your pain. It's always hard to second-guess yourself and what coulda shoulda been done -- you cared, you tried, you reached out to Jon - you did not fail him nor did you fail yourself.
  6. mck25's Avatar
    I admire your bravery admitting you feel you failed Jon. Not easy to admit as many would feel they had done enough in reaching out with calls and emails.
    I have suffered from severe bouts of depression in my short 21years. I am slowly recovering from what I desperately hope was my ultimate rock bottom this time last year. Even now I struggle to respond to calls and texts from wonderful friends even though I often desperately want to. I don't fully understand why yet, but I believe it's a lack of confidence, feeling unworthy of such good people and also it is just plain scary trying to re-engage in a social scene that I was once so comfortable and confident in but is now so alien and terriffying! There is an overwhelming feeling of failure when I stand next to my kind, loyal, accepting, compassionate friends who have accomplished so much in such a short time. So I withdraw...... and re-emerge when I find the strenght.
    I'm sure he appreciated your friendship and all the laughs that you shared. I hope Jon has found some peace.
  7. dryrunguy's Avatar
    mck, what you wrote touched me deeply. It's actually hard to type at the moment. I admire the courage it took to share what you did, and I hope that you will find our TAT community a place where you can--just be you. Because you're awesome.
  8. Ti-Amie's Avatar
    MCK it must be so hard to share what you have. It brought tears to my eyes.