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Ian killed himself last night. They found him naked in his bathtub with enough Percocet to make all of the pain in the world fade away.
Ian was 17 years old, a junior at John Adams senior high. I had classes with him throughout my high school experience. We had hung out with groups of friends outside of school, but never alone. We both knew we were friends but were never very close. I did feel for him though, he had it rough. He got the short end of a lot of sticks. No one deserved the things that happened to him, especially someone so young. It’s really not a surprise he gave up.
I was informed about Ian’s suicide when I arrived at school Monday morning. As I walked into the large main hall of the school I was called over by a group of people I had never actually spoken to. They told me Ian was dead, and that no one really knows what happened except Ian’s best friend.
She did not come into school that Monday, or for the rest of semester.
When a student kills himself the entire school enters a sort of trance, no one really knows what to say but everyone wants to talk about it. We really are gossipers by nature. The gossip was especially bad now because this wasn’t the first suicide at Adams high, Ian’s boyfriend slit his wrists less than two weeks ago.
I didn’t really know Ian’s boyfriend, in fact I didn’t even know his name until someone told me after he killed himself. I don’t feel right using his name though, because if I only know his name because of what he did, I’m not really helping his memory. They had been together for about a year, and according to Ian they really were deeply in love. I guess he had to have been in order to be so sad as to kill himself because of his death.
The first time I did something outside of school with Ian was about two years ago. I had been asked to attend a “gathering” at Ian’s house by a friend that we shared. Ian said his mom was out of town on business. I still don’t know if that was true. Ian was able to get a pretty large amount of beer, but most of us had never even tasted a beer before and found it disgusting once we had. A few guys drank too much and were throwing up in the backyard.
Once it got really late I was alone with Ian in the garage, most of the people had walked home, bored and tired. I told my parents I would be staying at a friend’s house so I really had no reason to leave. We had both been drinking, found that we didn’t mind the taste of beer once we had a few, and both of us wanted to experience being drunk.
We talked about the things you can only talk to a stranger about. I talked about crushes I had, he talked about his abusive father. I knew pretty quickly that we were in different stages of our lives.
Ian’s parents were divorced. They had been for a long time. Ian didn’t remember ever living with both of them. For a long time his parents had shared custody of him, until earlier this year when Ian told his parents that he was gay. His mother was an alcoholic and didn’t really seem to care what he did, but his father had told him that his life was a sin and that he would be judged soon enough. Ian didn’t believe in God. He said you’d have to be a fool to believe in God anymore. Ian’s father had always hit him when his grades weren’t good, or when he made a mistake. Being gay was just another mistake to his father. When he stopped going to his father’s house on the weekends, his father never complained.
So now that Ian had only one home, he was often left alone while his mother went out of town. He said he didn’t know what she did, but from the look of the house, it didn’t look like she was doing much at all. The house was messy, clothes all over the furniture, hard to tell if they were clean or not. The kitchen was surprisingly clean compared to the rest of the house, but from the amount of Chinese and pizza delivery I’m not sure it was ever used.
We continued to talk all night. I told him about some music I liked. I even gave him my burned copy of “Hatful of Hollow” by The Smiths. We talked about how we both enjoyed walking alone. We talked about walking through crowds of strangers and how when you don’t know someone it’s like they don’t exist. I figured most people felt that way sometimes, like no one else exists.
The night Ian’s boyfriend killed himself a group of us had gone to a Denny’s to hang out. Ian was there but he was alone, and when he was asked about it he said that his boyfriend was sick. Or this is what I was told. I didn’t hear the actual conversation. When Ian arrived it was clear that he was high, people wanted in, and he passed around a bottle of Percocet. They skipped over me. I didn’t really like pills.
After a couple of hours and a grand slam, I left the group and started to walk home. I only lived about two miles from the Denny’s and I liked the walk. It was that perfect temperature for a hoodie, my favorite temperature. I listened to music while I walked, mostly early punk, my friends were usually shocked to hear this about me. I guess I seemed to clean cut to listen to punk.
I will always remember this night because I decided to stop at a park on my way home. I sat on the swing and listened to Fugazi. I guess I was there long enough that Ian caught up to me on his way home and joined me. We sat on a swing, each with our headphones in. We barely said a word to each other, and any words we did say didn’t really matter much. Ian spent most of the time looking at his phone, I assumed he was texting his boyfriend. The silence between us was fine, Ian and I weren’t close, but we understood each other. We had a common bond in being completely different from each other. This was the last time I spent with Ian.
The following Monday neither Ian or is boyfriend went to school. We found out why later that day. The next day I found out that his boyfriend had left a note in the form of a text to him. All it said was “I’m sorry I love you.” I don’t know if the comma was missed on purpose or not. I don’t think Ian knew either.
Every day I expected, or I hoped that Ian would show up at school. He never did. I didn’t want to call him, because I felt like it wasn’t my place. At school we were called to an assembly during third period the Thursday after word had spread. They showed a short film about the harms of bullying in school. I think they were missing the point.
Ian killed himself last night. He called me earlier that night. Explained that he was okay, just understandably sad. He said he wanted to thank me for introducing him to better music. He told me that he had been listening to the Smiths CD that I had given to him two years ago on repeat for the past two weeks. He said it really helped him understand what was happening in his life. We talked for a few minutes and he said he had to go. A few hours later I received a text from Ian, it said “thank you for existing.” I didn’t understand this until I got to school today.
I walked towards my first class of the day. I put my headphones in because I didn’t really know what to think about everything. I didn’t know if I should show someone the text, or if I should tell people I talked to him last night and that he seemed okay.
There is a weird sensation when you walk in a crowd with headphones on. You pass people and it’s like they don’t exist. It’s like you are in a movie, the song is your theme, and all the people around you are actors. They don’t really exist in your life. The music is all that exists in those moments. “Love, love will tear us apart, again.” Ian understood this better than anyone.