This 2016, take back happiness.
(I originally posted this last year, but sometimes we need reminding…)
A friend who had been part of our initial travel plans for England and Scotland killed himself 2 days ago. We weren’t very close but we’d seen each other the last time he was in Cebu. He was a high school classmate, he’d been to my home, and he was one of the few people who sent me a postcard when he went away for college. We’d had a similar heartbreaking thing happen to us recently and when I finally did something definitive about my situation, he was one of the first people I told. He wasn’t a very close friend but I knew he’d understand, that he’d know what it was like and how it would feel, because we’d talked about it a lot that last time we saw each other.
You just never know — that it’s the last time you’re seeing someone. When we parted, we’d looked forward to our UK trip. He was moving to another company, he’d said, and he would have to ask permission from his new boss to take a couple of weeks off to go on the trip but he was optimistic.
Last May, I sent him a message over Facebook to tell him my sister and I had secured our tickets to London. “Okay,” he just said. “Copy that. Thanks.” That was his last message to me. He never did go on the trip.
Apparently he had been having a very difficult time at his new job. I don’t know the full details, just that it had gotten to the point that he’d become visibly depressed, and his co-workers had been urging him for a few weeks to take it easy. I don’t know why he couldn’t. I don’t know why he didn’t just knock all the papers off his desk, say “You know what, f* you” and leave. I don’t know why such a person as he’d been would think it wasn’t worth living anymore. He’d never seemed the type to commit suicide.
But then again, most people aren’t. I’ve been in such a dark place and successfully hidden it from most people that when I heard the initial rumors that he’d killed himself, most people were in shock and denial but I…I just knew it was entirely possible. You never really know with people. It didn’t stop me from messaging him in Facebook — “X? You there? I heard news that I’m hoping is just a joke…” — but I knew. And it felt like those of us who have, at one point or another, found ourselves secretly swimming in a sea of darkness had lost one of our own.
It’s ironic — the first time I saw the remote, desolate landscapes of Scotland, my first thought, a silly one I suppose, was that I belonged there. I could be happily sad here for the rest of my life, I thought. But then, later during the trip, I saw glorious mountains, sunlight through the clouds casting a golden haze on hills, and my first thought was: I could be happy here. I could look at these vistas every day of my life and be happy. And when, during the last days of the trip, I was reflecting on what I’d learned from the journey, I thought: I could be happy. Not just there. Anywhere.
It seems rather pointless now to wonder if those same thoughts would have occurred to my friend if he’d only come with us on the trip. But I hope, wherever he is now, that he would have the same succession of thoughts; that he would find peace, sooner or later; that he would, with a last burst of strength, find the land of light beyond the dark sea.
Fare well Poy.
The Light Beyond The Darkness | © Small-Town Girls, Midnight Trains. All rights reserved.