On April 6th, 2011 - at roughly 8:35pm - I lost my best friend, Kyle.
I met Kyle in highschool. If I remember correctly, we first met in math class. Not strangely, we both equally hated math. Neither of us were good at it. We sat kiddy-korner to eachother. We would copy off eachothers tests - borrow eachothers book (which we were not allowed to do) - and pass notes. I blew up on our math teacher one morning. I don't remember what the arguement was about, but I do recall being treated very unfairly. I stood up, threw my 5lb book on the floor, and screamed, "THEN I'M LEAVING!" and walked myself to my principals office. That afternoon, I saw Kyle in the hallway. He stopped me, and told me, "Just so you know, today in math class? Your my hero."
From there, we shared a number of other classes. Kyle has, and always was, a shy individual. You would usually find him in the back corner of a room by himself. Sometimes with his headphones in. Sometimes writing another amazing screenplay. Not usually with anyone else. Kyle was picked on... alot. In highschool, he was the kid with the emo hair - the fingerless gloves - the band shirts. People were cruel. Hurtful. He would never show it, but I could see it in his eyes. One thing I always took pride is was knowing what it was like to be that kid. The kid who is picked on. The kid who no one likes. It took me quite some time before I really didn't care what people had to say, and stood up for myself. I remember standing up for Kyle a couple times. I don't think he ever knew it. I would do it when he walked out of a room - so he wasn't to be embaressed. I never told him I did that for him. It was my little secret with myself.
Our senior year, we had our last class of the day together. In Mrs. Freidman's Sociology class, we grew to be the best of friends. Every day we would sit next to or close enough by eachother to talk the whole hour. He told me all about his dreams of going to film school and becoming an amazing director. I told him all my dreams of becoming a famous movie/TV star. Kyle didn't have a car yet, and I had to leave school early... he would always beg me to drop him off home early.
Kyle: "Please, April! Please! It's only 10 mins early!"
Me: "No, Kyle. I can just see it now... your parents will hate me."
Kyle: "No they won't, they're cool people."
Me: "Yes, they will Kyle. The girl who brings their son home from
school before class is out is usually frowned upon."
...But, I did. As fate would have it, it turned out he only lived no more than 10 mins away from me! How perfect! Upon graduation, I started going to his house basically every day. His whole family is so loving, and take people in with open arms. I to this day call them both Mom and Dad... which is fitting, since I basically lived there. I would get to Kyle's house at 1pm, and stay till well past midnight. We would play video games, go out to eat, hang out with the family, watch movies, write screenplays, play with Que (their dog), pick Emily up from school, hang out with Dad at work, cook with Mom... everything.
My favorite thing I remember we did all the time, basically every night... we would go outside in his driveway. He would sit on the trunk of his car, I would sit on the hood of mine, and we would talk. We could talk about everything and anything - and when I got in my car to head home around 2am, we still found more to talk about when I called him after I put my pajamas on when I got home.
One thing Kyle and I bonded about was our knowledge of Depression. Kyle had been diagnosed with Clinical Depression and Bipolar Disorder pretty early on. He stayed on pills and kept seeing councelors virtually his whole life. I had my severe bout with depression before Kyle and I really became the best of bestest friends. He would talk to me about random things, topics, issues that popped into his head that he knew I would understand. I would tell him lots of times, "Kyle, when you truly get sick and tired of being sick and tired - you will find a way to be happy." He would counter me with, "It's not that easy." Sometimes I fought him on that comment. Mostly, I let it go. His self confidance wasn't amazing, so I always attributed it to that. Regardless, however, I made sure to always say, "Well, Kyle... I don't know what to tell you then outside of I love you. You know I'm always here for you." I was. There were several times with crappy girlfriends, shitty personal situations, and 'Hey I need you to drive here with me..' days that I held up my 'always here for you' offer.
A few years into our friendship, I was in college. I got a voicemail on break from Kyle's Mom asking me if I was in the movie with him. I called her back, told her that I was in school today so I wasn't in the movie. We didn't think anything of it, because Kyle would always go see movies by himself anyways. He prefered it. I got out of school rather late, home by almost midnight. At 4a-5a, his mother called me again. I answer, and she's screaming and crying, "Kyle left suicide notes on his bed, took all of his stuff, and is gone." I panicked. He wasn't answering the phone for either of his parents, so I told them I would be right over - hung up - and started calling him like I have never repetitively called anyone in my life. Finally, he answered.
Kyle sounded like he hadn't slept in weeks.. which I knew he had. He said he had been drinking. He sounded very calm, cool, and collected. At the same time very sad, upset, and hopeless. Nothing like the Kyle I talked to all the time. The happy, giddy Kyle who would dance and sing in the car with me. Nothing like the Kyle who would rock our Guitar Hero with me. This was the Kyle that would have those 3 hour '..if I killed myself..' talks with me, and it made my skin crawl. I always talked him out of those thoughts before. Myself, or one of his parents. Why hadn't he turned to one of us for this?
I remember tears springing to my eyes instantly at how done he sounded. How ready he was for this. I remember begging him to tell me where he was, and pleading with him to let me come see him one last time. Give him one last hug. He wouldn't tell me. He didn't even hint. He told me no one was to know, and it was better this way. I was in his parents driveway at 4:00 in the morning screaming at him, telling him over and over again that he was my best friend and I loved him. I went inside the house, and it was hysteria. Mom and Dad were on phones, trying to figure out where he was, pacing around the house. I went upstairs to his room, and on his bed was a stack of notes and things for people. I remember on the top was a picture of him and I stapled to my page in his yearbook I wrote for him. I now regret not taking that and keeping it, when I had saw it there that day.
I got on his computer and tracked down everything I could, from inside his hard drive to everything he had deleted. With that, and other phonecalls to other people, we tracked him down. He had drained his bank account, and drove several hours to another state and was in a hotel room. Upon mine and his parents efforts, we had contacted his other friends and they had contacted him. We convinced him to wait another day before he took his life. The next day, he said he would end it around 11p. The next day his mother, father, and myself, drove to him. It was a whole huge deal - I won't elaborate. Kyle ended up getting his stomach pumped, and was in the hospital for the standard 72 hours for observation. I remember sitting with him in the hospital... I just looked at him and shook my head. I couldn't believe what has happening, what was going on. We had this conversation:
Me: "Kyle... what the fuck, dude?"
Me: "No, I'm serious. Why didn't you call me? You know I would
have came right over and helped you through this."
Kyle: "..that's exactly why I didn't call you, April. You would have talked
me out of it. And that's why I didn't tell you where I was. I didn't want you
to see what was going on."
Me: "..and that's a bad thing? That I could have helped?"
Kyle: *gives me a look*
Me: "You know what.. I love you, but your an asshole."
He got through that incident. The family told his therapist about it. They worked it all out. He was doing fine! We shot his first film (where he put me as the lead, bless his heart. My first film ever!). We made some new friends. We let go of some old friends. Whatever either of us did, it was me & Kyle, together. I remember family get togethers on holidays. I remember sitting with him the exact day, time, and place he decided he wanted to try his hand at being a stand up comic. I remember when he moved into his first apartment, and how I helped (just a baby bit) with the deco. I remember having 'throwback game night' and sitting at his kitchen table for hours playing the weirdest version of 'Guess Who' I think I've ever played in my life. All the while, helping him with jokes and assisting in the writing of screen plays.
As the time went by, we grew apart. He made friends who enjoyed smoking pot, and he grew to enjoy it too. I was never someone who thought it was cool, or had any desire to try it for any reason. Some of his new friends would tell me that I wasn't cool, and poke fun at me about it. He did stand up for me, but it still made me feel like crap. He didn't smoke around me at all, ever. I always thanked him for that, and appreciated it. However, it did start to change the person he was. Little by little. He wouldn't want to do the things we thought were fun anymore. Spent more time inside, isolated. I would still go to the house and spend some time with him, but the time I spent there was more and more with his parents and sister as opposed to him. He stopped writing scripts. I would push him because I knew how immensely talented he was. My attempts didn't do much, anger and avoidance most always followed. Did I love him any less? No. Was he still my best friend? Always.
He really started hanging out with different people. I did, as well. Nothing was thought of it on my part. My best friend Sarah and I had a pretty good stretch of time in highschool where we didn't talk at all, but to this day she is my best friend. We found eachother again and grew back even stronger. That was exactly what I figured would be with Kyle and I. We do our own thing, find a little more of ourselves, and come back better than ever! He couldn't help but keep me in his life somehow.. his family, the amazing people they are, became my family and I still spent lots of time at the house.
I don't know how long it was, truthfully. A year, maybe? Since the last time we had spent time together. I spoke with him briefly when our friend Megan had passed away a couple months ago. When he answered the phone, and I spoke, he didn't know who I was. That broke my heart in ways I don't think I can describe. Really, Kyle? How many hours would we spend on the phone and you can't tell who I am? I would never be able to forget you! I didn't say those things, but I felt them. I just told him Megan had passed, and that was all. I remember trying to find something to talk about - but I was afraid he didn't want to talk with me. Silence can really be deafening. We just said goodbye, and hung up.
You don't know how badly I wish I would have known that would be the last time I would ever get to talk with him.
His mother kept me up on all the family news. Kyle was doing amazing! He was writing again, planning to go out and film again. He had held casting sessions for his film. He was getting back to being Kyle! He was happy, really involved in things with his family and all else. He was doing well with himself, and the whole family!
..Or so we thought..
April 6th, 2011... I get a call from Mom.
Mom: "April, honey, I have something to tell you.."
Mom: "Are you driving?"
Mom: "Are you sitting down?"
Mom: "Are you at home?"
Me: "Yes.. What's going on?"
I was thinking it was Grandma. She hadn't been doing too well.
"April, honey... It's Kyle. He killed himself tonight."
Kyle? My Kyle? Your son, Kyle? My best friend, Kyle?
Are you sure?
I know his mother well enough to have asked all those things, which I did. To every question, regrettably, I got a 'Yes' answer. I heard police in the background, people talking, Emily crying, Que barking... it didn't seem real. At all. No, this wasn't real. This isn't happening. It can't be. It isn't.
Mom told me she'd call me back in a couple mins once she talked with the medical examiners. So, I hung up my phone.. and I just remember sitting on my floor. On my bedroom floor. I must have been staring at my corner for a good 5 minutes trying to compute in my brain what I have just been told. I remember looking around, and suddenly I was in my mom's bedroom. I turned on her light, and woke her up. After I said, "Kyle killed himself.." all I remember being able to say was, "..He was my best friend, he was my best friend.." over and over again as I collapsed onto my mom's bed.
My first instinct was to call him and start cursing him out for causing all this trouble... alas, I couldn't. I went to his mom's house the next morning (his parents are divorced by this point), and sat with her while she cried. I talked to her about how I never thought he'd do it. About how I was sure if he did I'd get at least a phonecall... nope. Didn't get a letter, either. Selfish as it may be, I wanted a damn letter. It was the least he could have done for me after our years together... I'd have settled with a sticky note, even! A scrap receipt that he just wrote, 'Hey, April' on the back of! I mean come on, Kyle!
(He would laugh at this, by the way.)
Anyways, I think my reasoning for blogging this whole horrible story (outside of the fact that it's therapeutic) - May is National Suicide Prevention & Awareness month. I think that it's important to be able to talk about. If you don't talk about it, it can't be cured or prevented. If you don't share a story, you can't empower or change anyone. Sometimes the most painful confessions bring about the strongest and most positive change. For the same reason Oprah does all those shows about horrific situations - there are many out there who feel like it has touched them, helped them. If it can help one person, it's worth it.
Kyle, your a douchebag. I can't believe you did this. I could kick your ass. Seeing as how we can't take it back, and as hard as I've sat and prayed to God to have him turn back time... he can't. I keep hoping that when I go to sleep I'll be able to wake up on the phone with you the last time I talked to you. I thank you so much for every memory you gave me - there are so many things we did together that I will carry with me until I see you again. If you never knew on earth, you now know in spirit how much you were loved. By not just me, but a great deal of people. I would have taken a bullet for you, regardless of how long we went without speaking. I had told you before, "No matter how long we go without talking, you'll always be my best friend." I meant it, Kyle. I always will.
Please take a moment to visit To Write Love On Her Arms . Any donation you can make will help them go up against fighting addiction, depression, self-injury, and suicide.
I love you, Kyle.