Anne Carson says in her introduction to Grief Lessons: “Why does tragedy exist? Because you are full of rage. Why are you full of rage? Because you are full of grief.”
This, I believe, is true. I do not need to do all the things Carson says – I do not need to ask a headhunter why he cuts off human heads, or speculate about a man’s actions on the way to his mother’s funeral. I only need to think of your suicide to understand that tragedy, and everything that comes with it, is born of rage and grief.
I wonder if now, five whole years later, I myself will ever be free from this same grief and rage. And the shame, too, for I am ashamed of the rage I feel at you for killing yourself. I can’t look at my own search history; I’ve googled your name endless times in the hopes I’ll find something new. I can’t wake up in the morning some days, because sometimes you still visit me in my dreams and I can’t bear to say goodbye over and over again.
At your funeral I said nothing. It was the rage. And the fact that nobody wants to talk about death, much less suicide. But now, five years later, I’m trying to say something to you, as I have been for a long time because I loved you so incredibly much. Even then; even now. So instead of saying nothing, I’m writing this, although I know you will never read it, and although I know it will never be enough.
I wish you still loved me the way you did when we drove down that road in Richmond one summer. You paid the cashier with pocket change through the rolled-down car window at the drive-thru; I wish I could watch you do that a million more times. I wish I could sit on your porch with you and listen to American Football and watch you mouth the words with your eyes closed. I wish you could read this, and everything I write, but I also wish I didn’t have to write this in the first place.
Sometimes I think of the way you used to smack your tongue against the roof of your mouth when you were trying to remember something. I can still hear the noise, like hail on a tin roof, but I can’t remember the last thing you said to me before your suicide. It’s ridiculous.
Sometimes I think about how I want to go back in time and say to you all the things I never got to when we were growing up. I never said them to you because growing up was so clumsy, and so quick, and you wouldn’t have listened anyway.
But I would say: you are a great person
I would say: you have a beautiful soul
I would say: you may be skinny but you run cross country really well, and the cool middle school boys might throw slushies on you because you like to read during lunch, but and none of this will matter soon, because one day you’ll grow up and bulk up and love someone enough to let them choose all the songs on the radio on your drive home
I would say: you are not invincible, despite all the dreams you have where you don’t feel pain
I would say: you are not alone
I would say: please don’t go
No one likes to talk about suicide, but it’s been five years, so I’m trying. I lost you when I was 16. Now I am 21 years old, and sometimes I don’t know if that’s old or young. Five years has passed so quickly, and so slowly at the same time. I regret not writing this earlier, at year four, or year three.
Three years after your suicide I found myself on the other side of the world in a foreign country, listening to all the songs we used to listen to together. Four years later I found myself at a college frat formal with a boy who loves all the same bands you used to love, when you were still alive.
And five whole years later, I have finally learned to forgive you. But I still think that this bruise inside of me, this dull ache beneath my ribs, will never go away. I know I am allowed to be deeply sad; that we are all allowed to be this deeply sad, still, after all these years. I know that. I also know that I will be okay, one day. But I just don’t know when.
I have to remind myself sometimes that I exist in this world. I exist I exist I exist. I wish you had wanted to; I wish you still did.