A Tragic Loss

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.

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6 responses to “A Tragic Loss

  1. Very sad when someone choses to end their life. It’s final, no turning back, done. We live in a fast paced life, so fast, we don’t notice when someone is hurting. Let’s all slow down and take the time to ask “How are you my friend?” “really, how are you doing? Maybe take them by the hand. I’ve been one to say “everything is ok” when I’m broken on the inside. But theres been that one person who took me by the hand, looked me in the eye and said “How are you” and I would break down and cry. Let’s slow down. Life is to short.

  2. Hi Tania–wow, maybe I showed up on a definitive day for you. I am so sorry for your loss. It’s hard to lose someone so young by any manner, and if it was a suicide, that’s a tough one. You know that quote by John Donne, I’m sure–“no man is an island”–I’m always stunned when a stranger’s death impacts me deeply. And yet, there have been losses close to me which didn’t get past the wall– Funny thing, death–not “amusing”. I guess all you can do is cherish the memories you have–pondering the “why” doesn’t go very far. I wonder if it’s harder for you, having been a nurse? I recall an ICU nurse being very angry toward me–whether because I survived my attempt, or for some other reason, I never knew. Anyway–just wanted to offer my condolences. God bless you. Sending prayers for his family, and friends.

    • I think when we lose someone close we go through the motions and try to be brave and carry on. When my grandfather passed away, I cried a bit, but it was one year later when his bestfriend died that I was able to fully release the loss I felt from the death of my grandfather. I think we try to hard to brave, then in the face of the loss of another, we are able to deal with our emotions. Everything and everybody has a place and time of healing, sometimes it is in the wake of someone else’s loss. My heart goes out to you also. Go ahead and cry, it is God’s way of cleansing us.

  3. No life that touched us ending so short leave us with more answers than questions. But, contrary to popular belief, the Bible Never says Suicide is the final answer, and that those who take their own lives go straight past go, do not collect $200.00, and straight to Hell. The Bible never says that…It does however say, we can rest in the reality that we have no way of knowing how God was working in that persons heart…and “Jesus” alone, is the final answer…you were blessed to have known James, and I’m certain you were an Island in his heart. I also feel certain that the friendship and time you spent with him, was regarded by him as sincere friendship, fulfilling, and never lacking in something you wish you’d of said or done. He is in a better place I believe, as I honestly doubt anyone who has ever taken their own life, was not entering before the throne of grace seeking the face of “Jesus” And Jesus is…the final answer.

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