My name is Kyle and I almost committed suicide when I was seventeen – but instead, I killed another human being. You might assume I’ve been telling my tale from a prison cell for the past few years, that I have parents who are deeply ashamed of me, or that I could never get a proper grip or career choice on my life and I’m just rotting away. That’s not the case in this situation, though. I tell my tale from a well-lit office space in my own home that I built from my own success. However, I tell my tale because I am scared.
At seventeen, I was a fresh senior in high school with a best friend named Amelia, who had been mine since middle school. Constantly harassed about our friendship being just “more” than one and growing up together in the most awkward of ways, we continued to see more and more of each other until we were at the point where even our own parents knew everything about the other and classified us as the “inseparable.” There was just something about Amelia that always put a smile on my face; from the way she was able to joke in any situation, to the way she was my shoulder to cry on throughout my worst moments growing up.
I suppose this is why it was a surprise when Amelia fell into depression, and not me. Although, it was certainly the cause of my own decline.
It was pretty slow and gradual, though the signs didn’t always stick out to me like a sore thumb at first. At first, it started with a favorite aunt of hers that passed away. After the funeral, it was rare to see a smile on her face anymore but I knew her coping mechanisms and that it was going to be a difficult ride through this one. A few months later and her puppy of five years ran out in the middle of the highway and got squashed as good as a bug on a windshield wiper. She distanced herself in the worst ways, starting from avoiding our designated movie nights and leading up to declining my phone calls in the oddest of ways. The moods deeply affected me in a way that’s hard to explain, but noticeable by others. And into the depression we both fell and fell, spiraling down further and further.
One day after a lot of confusing heartbreak and torment, Amelia showed up on my doorstep, or rather walked into my bedroom a zombie to the rest of the world. She said she finally did it and began to ramble and, when I had her calmed down sufficiently enough, she explained that she had written a suicide note. She collapsed in my arms and told me that she thinks she was going to do it that night, finally end it all, take the pills and allow her parents to find her body. She said she mentioned me and all the great times we’ve had together and that I was the one who kept her around the longest but no person can stand in for the other things that are missing. My heart shattered to bits and pieces and for a split second, the most insane idea came into my head as I reflected on the past few weeks. How alone I felt, and how useless all of this was.
“I’ll do it with you,” I whispered, snuggling her closer to me. I felt her head move a bit as if she were attempting to pull herself upright, as if she thought she had misheard me or something.
“Do…it?” she asked, implying exactly what I meant.
“I’m not living this life without you,” I replied. The past few years came back to me and how distant things had been between my parents and I. An older brother who had made something great out of himself and had always been their pride and joy. My lack in hearing from colleges and realizing my grades hadn’t made the cut and I’d never have the chance to go. And now losing my best friend, and knowing there was nothing I could do to stop any of this from happening; her mind was set.
And, without a handshake, our horrible plan was in action and we were setting it into motion. We spent the rest of the afternoon as normally as possible watching movies like we were supposed to do, laughing and enjoying the small amount of life we had left, both stricken by fear and resentment of the world around us that let us down so much. There was awkwardness in the air, something heavy that reminded us in between laughs that we would soon be six feet under, never to enjoy a single thing again. Yet, there was something so peaceful about that.
She kissed me before she headed home, her final goodbye.
That night I took every prescription pill out of the bottle and dumped them into a cocktail of suicidal approval on the bathroom sink. I stood there for a little while shuffling my feet nervously, wondering if Amelia was gone yet, or if she was standing in her bathroom right at this very moment, 7:30 in the evening, still alive and well and waiting for the event to occur. Finally my brain ceased to wonder anymore and the last thing I could think of was a message on repeat: Just do it, just do it, just end it now.
And then my Dad knocked on the bathroom door.
“Kyle?” his voice came sharp but excited, as if he would just burst through despite the lock being firmly in place. “Kyle, you have to come out and see this!”
“Kinda busy, Dad,” I shot back, wondering if it was the last thing he would ever hear from me and also a bit pissed knowing he had broken my trance before the deed.
“You can’t be too busy about this! You were accepted to college!”
My trance suddenly subsided like the feeling you get when you realize the worst hangover in your life has ended. I no longer felt the buckle in my knees nor the overpowering beat of my heart, now only replaced with a feeling of euphoria like a calm after the storm.
I whipped the door open and broke out into tears as I clutched the unthinkable paper in my hands. He held me for what felt like a lifetime, saying, “I knew you could do it. Some way, somehow.”
Calling Amelia’s cell phone an hour later brought up no answer. Calling a second time a half an hour after that questioned if I was being suspicious. I couldn’t sleep that night, wondering when I’d get a phone call back from two crying parents who wanted answers and turned to me for direction. I got my answer at 7:00 the next morning, only they showed up on my porch, in tears and with hugs to bear.
“Didn’t she even leave a note?” I asked, cleverly avoiding the fact that she had told me she was going to. An awful guilty feeling sank into my gut but I took their words to hear that ‘nothing you could have done or said to her would have changed anything – this is obviously the route she wanted to take in her life.’ My parents consoled me but there was a certain emptiness to everything. A feeling that I shouldn’t be sad, and that she was at peace. But the simple fact remained – she had gone without me. I had given her the courage with my own promise to do the very same thing. She had actually done it. And as this became a reality inside the base of me thoughts, I wondered if she would have hated me forever if she could have seen what I did.
The next week of phone calls and arrangements was so very foreign to me and a strange mix – calls from family unsuspecting of what had happened, calling to congratulate me on my college acceptance with “finally, even though it took so long!”s followed by laughs, thinking it was the funniest thing in the world and would actually cheer me up. Calls from family members who had gotten the news and wanted to tell me how sorry they were for me. A call from my brother who never took the time out of his year to even tell me happy birthday, who called to send condolences and then back it up by saying he heard about my good fortune. The entire time, I just felt guilt. Festering, rotting away at me.
My name is Kyle and I almost committed suicide when I was seventeen – but now I’m twenty-two and I have a college degree and a girlfriend who’s pregnant with our first child. My life really came together in the best ways after I thought I would never be able to get through another day, so I considered myself one of the lucky ones…up until now, you know. Because yesterday, I went to my old house to see my parents and pick up some of my old bedroom furniture to move into the kiddo’s nursery – we only have three months left and then our beautiful little boy will be brought into this world to two loving parents. When I pushed it upstairs and into his bedroom, I pulled out a drawer and didn’t expect to find much but there was an envelope pushed to the back that was clearly unopened and the curiosity got the best of me.
I pulled it out and ripped it open furiously after recognizing the name and handwriting on the front of it, so perfectly written with a dotted “I” like she always used.
There, on notebook paper, the words stood out to me in a sloppy scrawl. “I didn’t know where to find you, so I wanted to leave this for you. You promised me your life, but I went alone. I’ll see you soon, best friend.” The notebook paper was scarred around all edges, blackened and falling to pieces. There was no question about where she had sent it from.
But I know I’ll see her soon.