I don’t remember what I was doing this time five years ago. The fourth of April 2006 has blended into the sea of days that have gathered up to be my life thus far. At a guess I probably went to school, wearing the same forest green uniform I had for years, and likely hung out with friends that evening before going home and getting ready for bed, thought of what to buy my Mother for her birthday on April sixth, fell asleep and rose for a repeat routine the following day.
April fifth though stands out like a canary in a sparrows nest . On the fifth of April 2006 I woke, did my hair the same way I had done for the past few years, put on my forest green uniform, and went to a school in Dad’s blue Ford Falcon listening to talkback radio just as we would have the day before. I got to school and milled about with others in the same cliques just like we all had on the beige April fourth prior, and then one of my friends came to school and mentioned a close friend of mine had hung himself from the ceiling of his garage in the small hours of the morning.
I didn’t completley register and went about asking a few question in auto pilot mode. Then calmy, quietly, and steadily I made my way up the stairs and along the long concrete walkway to my classroom where, waiting to go into class, a girl with red hair asked if I was okay. I don’t remember if I answered or not, but I do remember seeing my reflection in some glass as I ran down the stairs and down the concrete path towards the drama room and noticing I looked, in a word, ghostly. I made it to the drama room, and collapsed in a sobbing heap of forest green uniform fabric and tears on the floor behind the long black stage curtains where eventually my kind, kind teacher would come and lead me to his office so I could cry and slowly explain what had happened. The rest of that week is a blur. I know I had to leave a lot of classes as teardrops began to well up on the pages of my school books, and I remember going to a friends Irish dancing competition the morning before the funeral, but other than that it is a great jumble of questions – many still unanswered.
Five years… five years is a long time. Five years ago I was just seventeen. Five years ago I used to smoke pot six or so times a week and knew all the words to 50 Cent’s debut album. Five years ago I didn’t play guitar and five years ago I would probably have told you God was full of crap, if there was a God at all.
God, the one who I would have told you was a liar and a thief, has done a lot of mending in me in these last five years – and not simply from the grief and mourning that consumes in the wake of suicide, but a half decade later, I still wonder about him most weeks. I wonder what he’d be doing today. I replay sometimes the last few moments of his life and wonder at what he might be doing with it now, with all his gifts and talents all these years later had he instead decided not to go through with it. I wonder what his day job would be… where he might live… I wonder what brand of cigarettes he’d be smoking now, and if he’d still be drinking V all the time or whether he might have moved on to Red Bull instead. All of the little things that made up a life that though short, was one of the fullest and largest loving lives I have been lucky enough to be touched by in my twenty two years.
We’re powerful beings you know, more so than I think we recognize most of the time. In a moment we can make a decision to end our entire world – to go somewhere into the abyss and leave. A wave goodbye as we exit the stage and a full stop on the page of our life. I don’t write this to be “depressing,” neither do I write for attention – far from it infact. I do so because I so desperatley want you, yes you, reader – YOU, to make the most of your life. To rise each day and know the power you posess in the gift that is free will, and to use that power; your skills, your talents and your gifts, to the absolute best of your ability for good.
I know it sounds so Star Wars to talk about “powers being used for good,” but it’s true. We get this one life, and though it is the longest thing any of us will ever do, we all seem to know deep in our bones, to our very marrow, how short life is. We are dared forwards into our futures by a knowledge that we are capable of so much, more than our wildest dreams could comprehend even, and so we look at the span of our lives and wonder how on earth we will possibly fit in all the things we long to do and long for – our passions, our hopes.
I can’t stress it to you enough, I can’t come up with enough ways or words to tell you follow your dreams and to make mistakes and learn from them and to love people completley unashamedly… but please, please just do it. You’re so talented, I don’t care who you are or whether or not you think you’re talented or not – if you’re reading this, congratulations, you can read – you have a talent, a lot of people can’t… how’s that for a dose of reality? But please, for the love of God find what makes you come alive and run towards it loving and doing good to as many people as you possibly can along the way, because one day your race will end. And for me? I don’t want to be at the finish line wishing I’d ran a different course, a different way.
I don’t know what I’ll do tomorrow. Last year I had been in a van for twenty hours driving through Australia, and had almost forgotten about my friend who full stopped his life when by chance he came up in conversation, and after I told his story I spent some time silently looking at the stars. I will take some time to think tomorrow though, to remember his jet black hair and his very blue eyes, and his laugh that I still recall in it’s billowing, echoing way… and when I do, just as I do now, I will smile and I will make the absolute most of my day.
Life is much, much too short not to.