You know, we were kids. He was older, and hiding my Barbies was his thing. Just like most cousins, he liked to tease; it was his way of showing affection. Of course I cried a lot – I loved my dolls more than anything. But as I grew, I wanted to spend more time with him and his brothers, and less time with my dolls.
Then came the times he spent showing me how he could play the guitar, and I was impressed. This kid was good. Like radio good. I spent hours at his feet, cuddling my knees and bobbing my head, as he ripped away tunes, sweating over sheets of music. Of course the teasing always came back. At Halloween he locked me in a dark room and blasted loud tapes of spooky noises. I cried. He laughed.
I didn’t see Ryan for years, but I always thought about him. As life took us in different directions, he and his brothers were constantly in my heart. I struggled with my own issues – depression, eating disorders, addiction, the after-effects of abuse. I was trying to keep my head afloat in a dark ocean of confusion; I wanted to visit my family, but I felt detached from the world. I could no longer identify with the little girl who once played freely and enjoyed life for what it had to offer. I was simply someone else…an identity I had created to cope with life. Often, I contemplated destroying that identity altogether. I wanted to die.
Then came the day – it started out like every other day. Except on this day, I learned that Ryan was gone. He had taken his own life. The memories we shared, were all I had to hold onto. We could never create new ones.
I wish he could have known that, whatever pain he was going through were only temporary. I wish he could have known that he could have reached out…to anyone. I wish that as kids, I could have told him anything, just one thing, that could have made a difference. But I can’t go back and change that. I can, however, help someone else, in honor of him.
I changed my life in honor of my mother, who died in 2012. More importantly, I did it for myself. We can all do it, in memory of someone we love, in honor of ourselves.
If you or someone you love needs to talk, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1.800.273.8255, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
As well, you can visit their website to find out more about suicide prevention and ways you can help in your area.