Here's what happened, for anyone who doesn't know... and you should know, because to have this knowledge is to be forewarned. I don't know if that actually means anything, by the way; to be forewarned. Probably not. Not if you're young and stupid, anyway... like I was when what I am about to describe happened. I think that maybe if I had been forewarned about all of this... regret, at this place in my life and at the age I am now... it might have made a difference with things then, and things wouldn't be the way they are.
But I'm probably confusing the regretted experience with the wisdom to avoid the experience in the first place. I didn't have the wisdom then, but I have the regret now. It's the same information, but obtained in different ways. Are you following me? Does this make sense? Because I'm about to give the warning now to you, whoever is reading this. I'm going to confess the regret of having blundered through these events of my life with no critical information arriving at an opportune time; with no warning from my future self to avert the impending tragedy, and no special awareness for anything other than myself and the all-important few cubic meters of personal space of my immediate surroundings.
All of this sounds melodramatic whenever I read it back to myself... but when I remember all of it, and think about it, and silently re-live it, I feel the actual thing that I'm trying to communicate. It's not a feeling or an experience that I would wish upon somebody, but maybe the information is valuable. Like understanding something horrible by reading a book about it, as opposed to being balls deep in the happening of it.
So, where was I, and what was I saying? Oh yeah.
Here's where I go on to describe the moments which contained the unforgivable events that I had a major hand in helping along. The two separate suicides which I encouraged and helped to craft, however unintentionally, like blissful ignorance armed with a jackhammer.
One of a friend and one of a brother.
The suicides, that is, those are.
I'll just jump right into the meaty gristle of it. The juicy, parboiled but bloody rare memory of those deaths, carefully nurtured over the years to a savory, succulent feast of nasty, overripe, rotting memories... ah, screw it. Now I'm being melodramatic.
I'll talk about Jim Bob first. Twenty-four years ago. I knew him. What I mean by saying that, is that I was comfortable around him. I was a shy kid... still am a shy kid, and back then being comfortable around someone meant a helluva lot more to me than actually just knowing them. It meant a good thing... a victory. I knew Jim Bob, and what that meant to me was more than just the sum of what those words add up to. I knew him... God, so much less of a thing meant so much more then. I didn't know him at all, but I knew him, and at that time in my life, that was more important than just about anything else.
His name was Jim Bob, and he parked his car on the railroad tracks one night right after I'd talked to him. He had just bought a new guitar, and he was excited about it. He wanted me to tune it for him, but I was playing pool and I didn't have time for him that night. So he parked his car on the railroad tracks and pressed a gun against his head and blew his brains out. That's what happened to Jim Bob.
I went to the funeral for this guy who I knew and was comfortable hanging around with, but didn't really know. I went to Jim Bobs funeral, and after the service, his brother made a bee line toward me. He marched right up to me, right through the crowd, and right up to where I was. I didn't know it was Jim Bob's brother until he was right in front of me. His name is Neil. Neil came to me after we had buried his brother... and I didn't really know Neil, except that he was a couple of grades younger than me in high school. I didn't even know that he was Jim Bob's brother until that day.
After Jim Bob was in the ground, Neil came up to me. He was crying, the way one cries for a brother who has just been swallowed by the dark. Neil stood in front of me and the activity of sobbing - grief stricken and blatant - happened right there in front of me, inches from my face. This thing I'm describing really happened, and most of the time I can hardly believe it, that it happened. Who would want to believe it? I've spent the last twenty four years not trying to believe that I remember it. On with it, Ash, you frikin' coward.
Neil said to me... no, he blubbered to me through a torrent of half choked sobs... "My brother was always talking about you, Ash," and then he embraced me, the way friends and loved ones embrace each other.
And that was like.. that was like, getting throttled by a pure white light. Choking on the essence of all that might be good and wants to be good, but instead succumbs and fails and withers and dries up and dies. That was the twenty ton foot of truth stomping down on top of me, flattening me and spreading my worthless guts and slimy essence into the dirt of all those graves... because I knew right then that if I'd just taken the time to share in his excitement, if I'd simply acknowledged his existence, if I'd just taken a few minutes to treat him like a friend and showed him how to tune the damn guitar, the night that he shot himself ... that Jim Bob would have still been alive.
And I'm too tired to go on about Jerral right now.