Tuesday July 13th 2010 was on of the worst days of my life. If I could strike it from memory I would. More like Early Wednesday morning of July 14th was the worst moment of my life.
Depression took away my best friend, it robbed me of his laughter, his grace, and mostly it busted my happiness bubble wide open. I constantly replay my last conversation with Connor in my head. Searching for any clues, signs, or signals of what that night would bring. If only I had known how badly my friend was hurting in NYC. Maybe I would have taken that red-eye like he asked me too, maybe I would have talked a little longer, maybe I would have said an extra I love you.
All I have left are maybes. Maybes do not tell me I am beautiful nor do they erase the pain or fill the hole that Conner’s death left. Suicide is something that happens all to often. Its something I know all to well and if I could I would whisper Go Ninja Go in everyone’s ear. I would be their beacon, their rock, and hold them up until they could fly. It’s impossible to help everyone, I can at least die trying.
Suicide first became part of my vocabulary as I stood before the open casket of my former classmate Cameron Goetz. I vowed right then and there to make sure this never happened again. The yellow ribbon project became my mission, I lived and breathed suicide awareness. UW-Superior gave me the go ahead to start a chapter of the Light for Life Foundation on our campus. The organization became a life line for students, with in the first year 6 students handed over the card and got the help they needed. For me this avenged Cameron’s death. I will never understand why he took his life. I only know that his pain was too much to bare and that he thought death would solve his worries. Instead he left behind a sister, parents, friends, and a town that misses him dearly. I often wonder what he would be today. I just know that he is giving God his best serve and lending his voice to the choirs of heaven.
Connor lived the life that dreams are made of. He found his passion and harnessed it into a blossoming medical practice. For as long as I live I will never forget his laugh. His beautiful laugh. I met Connor when I was a freshman in college he was 12 years my senior. I would joke that he was a cougar and that he was an old man. Soon our relationship fizzled, mostly because I had asked him for some space. I was only 20 after all and needed to find me. He gave me the space I needed, always lending an ear and a shoulder to lean on. Leaning is something I always did with Connor. He is one of the few people that can capture me and reel me in from the crazy life I lead. Just hearing his voice calmed me.
A calm I longed to hear on the day I left my x husband. I couldn’t form words. I just cried into my blackberry. He whispered back ” Its gonna be all right AJ, you are free now. No more tears beautiful. No more tears. Ok?” I managed to get a meek ok to leave my mouth. Each day he called me, each day he’d tell me “Its going to get better you’ll see.” He was right each day got better and better. Before I knew it I wasn’t muddling anymore and I was on day 13 of my new-found independence.
Day 13 brought two things a text argument with a certain attorney and a frazzled phone call to Connor. I explained everything to him tearfully. I had lost my dear friend, caused someone I didn’t know to have a bad day, and hurt the attorney by not believing his word. As he always did he told me “Seek out the truth, find the one you trust and listen to them. They will not steer you wrong hun.” With that our call ended with a quick I love you.
2am my phone rang. It was Connors mom and she quickly asked if I was sitting down. I could tell that she was crying her voice so weak. Margaret couldn’t get the words to flow, Charlie took the phone and whispered “I’m so sorry hun.” Sorry for what I demanded, what are you sorry for. I could hear him crying on the other end, “I’m sorry AmandaJean Connor is dead.” My body went numb. How I asked. I could hear Charlie gulp back his tears. “He hung himself sweetie, he hung himself.” Life left my body, it hurt to breath, I fell to my knees in anger. This, this was a lie I thought. I feverishly called the airline and got on the first flight I could. Part of me wanted to believe it was a joke and that when I got to NYC he would pop out at me.
He didn’t pop out at me. I tried to will him back. It didn’t work. Instead I was left to write his eulogy and pick out his final outfit. Going through his things, setting foot in his apartment was out of the question for me. It was to painful and I was to filled with anger. Hurt and angry is how I felt, maybe a little abandoned too. He, he took my happiness away that day. Or so I thought he did.
Connor’s suicide taught me one thing. Happiness is what we create and it is what we give to others. His family often tells me “AmandaJean you were Connor’s happy place, in you he found peace.” A peace that he couldn’t find on his own, a happiness that was only half-baked without me. Connor gave me happiness, more happiness than I could ever imagine. When I was with him the world melted into the night, the fire so bright, and marshmallows the perfect shade of gold. That is what I will remember, I will remember the happiness he created for me. Those moments that were filled with laughter, passion, and advise.
I would give anything to hear his advise and to get a big Connor hug. Instead I have peace, peace because I know that heaven holds no pain and that he has the happiness that eluded him on earth. Suicide robbed me of my BFF, but the one thing it can’t steal are my memories. As long as I remember, Connor will live on through my stories and will always be apart of my heart.
My wish is that none of you will have to know my pain. That none of you will have to write a eulogy, pick out a final out fit, and kiss your friend goodbye as the casket closes on last time. You are a source of strength, a beacon of light, if your heart is right your friends will know it. Just remember that everyone is fighting a battle, some are so lost in the darkness they don’t know which end is up. Smile at everyone you meet, be the ear that someone needs, and be the shoulder in which their tears fall upon. Together we can prevent suicide, together we can help people find their happy place again. Reach out, reach out until you have nothing left to give.
The song ” I can only imagine” By Mercy Me was played at both Cameron Goetz and Connor’s funerals. This song has brought me so much peace and I can’t help but wonder did they fall to their knees when peace was finally theirs.