My mother emerged from her room in tears. It was about 6 a.m., just before school. My little sister and I were going about our morning routines when the weight of the world came crashing down.
“Scott… he killed himself last night,” she said. My little sister Tara wept. I went about my routine as if I hadn’t heard the words. I hadn’t spoken to Scott in a number of years; he was in college at the time. An old family friend—the son of my mother’s best friend. The guy who showed me how to play Donkey Kong on his N64. The guy my older sister had always been in love with. The guy who always made everyone laugh.
“He hung himself. His roommate found him…” my mother said, trailing off through her tears. I didn’t know what to say. “I knew he had suffered from depression, I just…” My mother was trying to explain a death to us like we were children. I didn’t blame her though.
I drove my sister to school in silence. We walked into the school in silence. Everyone stared at us in silence. My father was the principal of our high school and Scott’s mother was one of the assistant principals. her office was down the hall from my father’s—it was dark and empty. Everyone knew.
“Are you okay?” asked everyone who locked eyes with me.
“Yes” I’d say just to get them to walk away. I wasn’t even sure. My father pulled me out of class around 2nd block and put me in a counselling office.
“Are you okay?” he asked. Oh no, not him too.
“Yes,” I said.
“Do you need to go home?”
“Okay,” he said. He never lets me go home early, not even when I’m sick. “Get your little sister and go home.” He gave me money to buy us lunch. The entirety of the counselling staff was waiting outside the door as if they were all planning to hug me as I burst into tears. I walked past them all and left.
I felt thankful to be let go from the day. Not because I was grieving, but to get away from all the people who wouldn’t leave me the hell alone. It was all because they cared, I know, but at one point one has to realize when a close family friend commits suicide, I’m not going to be okay that very same day.
“Tara,” I said on the ride home, “how many people asked if you were okay?”
“Everyone. I got really annoyed,” she said. I was glad I wasn’t alone.
We got Chic-fil-a breakfast and headed back home to de-stress. I put on a movie we hadn’t seen and we watched it together. The cloudy gray light fell onto the TV. My eyes grew bloodshot from forgetting to blink.
I wasn’t sure if I was in shock or if I didn’t care. That thought made me sick. And so did social media. Twitter was filled with false claims of knowing Scott; people who sent their prayers to him. I imagined my peers typing on their phones in wild succession after discovering the news of Scott’s death, “look at such a good person I am!” and “I know this is a tragedy but don’t forget about me too!”
Fuck you, I thought, for capitalizing on the death of a young man for retweets.
I propped up from my Gollum stance over my phone when I heard my sister crying again. I consoled her the best I could. There’s something entirely scary about not having any power to make things better, that something could’ve been done before. But the damage was done. The permanent solution to a temporary problem.
The rest of the day seemed to flow the same. My mom came home and made dinner. We ate, ignoring the elephant in the room. I asked how Scott’s mom was doing—my mother visited her earlier that day.
“Her eyes were dead. She looked like a zombie,” she said. I didn’t blink. I wasn’t surprised.
The day finally came to end where it started: the darkness of the night. The dams of my emotions burst free in finality. I wept alone. I fell asleep.