[photo by me, December 2009]
Usually I like to write about food. Cooking food, writing recipes, and photographing what I’ve made have been creative outlets for me in the last few years.
This week, two really famous people in two totally different realms of fame committed suicide. Even if you don’t buy Kate Spade bags, you know who she is, and you know her style—preppy, girly, pastel, fun. Even if you don’t follow Anthony Bourdain, you know his style –witty, adventurous, food-obsessed. Suicide and depression are both such heavy topics that, even now, after losing so many famous people to it in a time where we know everything almost instantly –are still taboo. We find out that these people were depressed after they die. It’s like the disease it totally dormant until it’s killed the person it’s affecting.
Thirteen years ago when I lived in Florida, I met someone named Jake. We dated, and we were in love, and it was a crazy, romantic time in my life. Jake was athletic, funny, optimistic, sexy, and everything I wanted in a boyfriend at the time. Our relationship was tumultuous, but I loved him so much. We dated for about 7 months. About 4 months after it ended, I was in a hospital in North Carolina recovering from an experimental hip surgery, and I got a phone call from a friend who told me Jake had died. He was about to turn 31. I only knew Jake for a year of his life—the last year of his life. Because we had broken up so closely to when he passed, I questioned a lot of things for a long time that were very personal to me. I’ve gotten past some of it, but I still think about him at least weekly and wonder why he did it. I wonder what could have been done in the months leading up to his death that could have prevented it, and it leaves a hole. I think anyone who knew Jake, especially anyone who is reading this, will know exactly what that feels like. It’s not even a black hole, more like grey or brown. Dull, just there, always wondering. And the worst parts about it are that he will never be here again, and I will never know why. Any other ex, if I’m curious, I can just look them up on Facebook and see that they’re living this life. Jake, I can’t. He died before even getting a MySpace account. I remember when we were dating and talking to someone with him about the internet, and Jake said, “No, I’m not online.” Is that even a thing anymore? I hold on to this one year of my life so tightly because it’s all kept in the dozen pictures I have and lots of memories that I refuse to let go of.
Thirteen years ago, I also met someone named Bethany. She was smart af (before af was a thing). She was hilarious, more beautiful than she realized, and such a supporter. Bethany called me Serafina, and she told me that the salad dressing at the restaurant we worked at would set me free. Bethany was the life of the party. I remember visiting Florida in 2014 a few months before she died and actually deciding not to call her because I “didn’t have the time.” Stuff like that sticks with you.
After Jake died, I went through a really bad year. I ended up eventually dating and having my first child with his best friend. I began dating him because, subconsciously, I felt that it connected me to Jake. Even though Harry is not Jake’s child, his presence is a reminder of him, but a really good one. If I’d never met Jake, I would have never have had Harry. And Harry changed my entire existence.
Even though I know suicide is not anyone’s fault, and there is no sense in blaming yourself or trying to figure out “what if?” it doesn’t make thinking about my friends’ deaths any easier. I don’t know what I’m trying to get out here, except that this week has made me think about them a lot.
Do not blame yourself if someone you know has committed suicide.
But more importantly, check on your friends.
When they seem draining or depressed, don’t avoid them. When they are acting weird, standoffish, too generous, happy then sad, drinking too much, sleeping too much. Check on them. All these things could seem only mildly alarming separately, but they could add up to something way bigger.
I miss my friends. This post is dedicated to them.