a dirty word

It all started with a purse. A beautiful deep plum crossbody. Embossed with a household name.

Kate Spade.

It all started with a day home sick from the crusty, hallowed halls of my high school. A Travel Channel marathon. A gray-haired silver fox of a man sharing food and laughs with tables of warm strangers in faraway lands.

Anthony Bourdain.

It all started with a favorite childhood Disney movie. A larger-than-life blue genie telling my small, dancing-around-the-living-room, childhood self that I ain’t never had a friend like him.

Robin Williams.

All these people elected to end their own lives. Lives full of legacy and talent in their respective fields.


Suicide is a dirty word scribbled in the back of society’s mind like a thoughtless bubble of graffiti on a dingy bathroom stall.

It is not pretty, it does not discriminate.

It is also seemingly everywhere these days.


Everyone is quick to point their fingers anywhere but at themselves.

And, no, I’m not here to say that the blame rests solely on the shoulders of those closest to the victims.

But I am saying that there is something to be said for supposedly “blissful” ignorance of someone’s struggling.


I lost him on a Wednesday night in the blustery late autumn of 2014. It was one of those nights in my very first semester of college where I sat perched on the thin futon in my dorm room flipping between Google Chrome tabs.

One filled with introductory biology- the cell cycle. One oozing flashy glimpses into the lives of my high school friends, neighbors, teachers, extended family- Facebook posts dripping steadily into my newsfeed built to tempt my wandering eyes away from my studies.

One such blip changed the course of my life forevermore.

Strangers urging him to rest in peace. People lamenting on how missed he would be…all in one organized pile linked to his Facebook timeline.

My brain clangs against the side of my skull, coming to a screeching halt.

He. Can’t. Be. Gone.

“No” is the single word I manage to spit out. I can recall the breathless tone that accompanied it and the rush of blood from my face to the balls of my feet.  

This experience was a demon I never expected to meet.

Let alone tango with for all the years to follow.


It’s comical.

Okay no, it’s not. Unfortunately ironic is a better phrase for it.

We had been through so much.

The Early Days.

Parents whose absence made waves for years, siblings whose presence did the opposite.

Girls who didn’t know his closeted adoration for them, boys who made me cry alone in my room for weeks on end.

And then there was The Pit.


Self harm. Late nights on the phone, ragged breathing, white knuckles clutching my sliding keyboard early 2000’s era cell phone.

We fell. Spiraled, really.

I collected these phone conversations like precious gems. Caring for others when no one else will is my own personal heroin.

I shot up with him regularly that first year.

The benders lasted longer than I care to admit.

We both careened headfirst into utter shit.

(For lack of a more eloquent way to express what would unfold)


The years tumbled on.

High school commencement.

College classes.

College jobs – specifically his job at the admissions office call center.

New boyfriends of mine.

He was the same old solid companion.

He stood, he waited.

But I was the one who faded.


We had not spoken for months when he left this world.


And I was to blame.

When he was found unresponsive in his dorm room, I was not to blame.

But I had known how deeply he had hurt in the past.

So I do place a certain burden upon myself.

I had not paid attention, I had not done my part, I had not extended that care I had once so willingly provided.


Could it be because of my negligence and others who feigned blindness that he had to die?


This is my message for us as a society. The prying eyes of the world we live in today.

The survivors are not the guilty ones, but there is a definite price to pay.

Who makes the payment, who gives the pound of flesh

that is something upon which I digress.

Be vigilant, don’t close the door on those you know and love.

Be careful, but don’t tread too lightly or you risk the pain I speak of.

Be open, beckon your loved ones back into the light.

It isn’t much, but to live unfettered by hardship is a human right.

Last of all, be KIND.

I can assure you the ones receiving your warmth will not mind.


This poem is about: 
Our world
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