DISPUTE WITH AN ABSENT FRIEND
My friend Adam has passed. We, his friends, grieve. We imagine his end. We shudder. We sob. We find ourselves impotent, just when we would act. We sigh and inquire, of ourselves, of the universe, of gods. We ponder fruitlessly. We suffer a splinter none can pull. Adam’s departure makes us, for a time, unwell.
Adam’s absence decimates his spouse. We share Evelyn’s pain dimly, like the whisper of a distant cataclysm of thunder. We hold her in our hearts; we honor her need for solitude. When she is able, we will embrace her. During her pained absence, we bank the fire of our affection for Evelyn, keeping its embers lively.
Adam’s death erases from our futures his quirks, his affections, and funny little trinkets. We shall not again enjoy Adam’s strong helping arms, his silly boots, his contrarian views, his oddness. Adam shall never again plummet us into boisterous laughter. For Adam is gone. Our lives are diminished by subtraction. A piece of us has perished.
Adam died by his own hand, I am told. Some of us, in important dialogues of the past, have asked Adam to decline such action. Many of us believe such action wrong. Adam has voted against us in that regard.
For me, after Adam’s act, I restrain judgment. I do not know Adam’s pain. I do not know what particular problems he sought to remedy by suicide. I do not know what he deemed essential in those critical moments of decision. I do know that, for Adam, his reasons were sufficient to himself. I do know Adam suffered neurochemical imbalances. I do know Adam, in his great intelligence, found much in our culture insufferable, things most of us simply ignore. Most essentially, I know that I do not know the deep inwardness of others, including Adam. I see that many are hounded by feelings of inadequacy, by life puzzles they cannot solve, by the limited remediation love offers. For all, life contains suffering. For some, living becomes torment. Death provides a lasting analgesic, the pain-killer that one day relieves every agony. Adam needed relief; he found it.
Adam’s solution to his pain increases ours. For those who remain in the wake of death, questions linger. When we are done denying that death has touched us, we progress to regret. We speak within. We could have done this. We should have done that. “If only I had…,” one thinks, imagining, like a child, that good behavior inoculates against bad outcomes. To all who read this page, I say plainly: Adam did not die of our deficiencies. We suffer many flaws. Our defects do not, however, explain what overtook Adam. Adam’s departure is a mystery shrouded in the inaccessible depths of Adam’s essence. Even Adam himself grasped only a portion of what moved him to act. We would appreciate a simple answer to Adam’s death. None exists.