Off my usual publishing posts…I heard news today of an old friend who passed away. By old, I mean he was likely in his late 20’s to very early 30’s, but I’ve known him 12 yrs. He was my FTO when I started working at a very, very small ambulance company in Los Angeles County. I laughed when they put me off his rig to train because I was near my late twenties and he was all of barely-legal, and this kid was going train me. The first words out of his mouth were, “are you Mexican? We (him and his partner) don’t really like mexicans, but don’t worry, we don’t really like anybody. So its not just you.”
My response, “we are going to get along just fine.”
James was found dead by family this week. The story being told is that it may have been a suicide, which is the part that plagues me the most. I spent nearly the better part of a decade around this kid. He was the little brother type. The kind you enjoyed watching grow up and come into his own, but weren’t surprised when he wrecked trying to be a stuntman on a motorcycle. I was his dedicated driver a few times. His counselor on romance at others. He slowed danced with me at a club when I was standing all alone. I remember the day we ended up at a lesbian club somewhere in Hollywood. I’m not sure how that happened, but I remember we had such a fun time dancing and being in the moment. He was always happy. Always smiling. Always had something witty or sarcastic to say. He was full of wild ideas, and a time or two I had to cover for some of the shananigans that went on at work, but I never minded, because when I said he had a call he ran it. When I asked him to hold over he did. By the way, we were both EMTs, but I moonlighted as a dispatcher a few years, which is how we met.
I feel so much sorrow and pain for what his family must be going through. It is so tragic to lose someone so wonderful, and though we fell out of touch over the years, Facebook brought us back together last year. He didn’t post much, but when he did, I was always excited to see what was going on in his life. Hearing the surroundings of his death has left me in a slump. I feel like I have experienced things in the last year that would qualify as understandable if I chose to end my life. So I wonder how much he was going through, and what could have been so bad that ending your own life would be the final answer. These are the times when I want to reach out to every person I have ever met: friends, old friends, acquantences, and foes, and tell them if they ever feel like they have reached the end to call me. Call anyone! Reach out for help. I feel so helpless. This was so close to home. So close to my heart. I wish I would have kept in contact, but I can’t live in that regret. So James, I truly and sincerely pray that you are in a better place and have found a peace that you didn’t find here. I hope your family finds peace in this sad time. You will not be forgotten. You have touched the lives of thousands of patients, hundreds of friends through the family we had as EMTs. There is no memory or story I can tell of my life as an EMT that would not involve you. You have a safe place in my heart. Goodbye. I hope you have wings sprinkled in gold.