Yesterday the news reached me that an old friend committed suicide. We grew up together in suburban Maryland. Our families were close. Our mothers and sisters were friends as well. There was a kind of inseparableness that governed our friendship in the golden years before adolescence took its toll and widened the gap between us forever.
He was sent away to a private school, then a military school, ostensibly because he was becoming increasingly uncontrollable and violent. He discovered drugs. When, after a few years, he returned to our public school I didn’t recognize him. He had grown tall and awkward. His skin had taken on a strange shade of purple. His blonde hair was ratty and knotted. His voice had become a bellow and his manners antagonistic. Before the year was out, he disappeared again.
Twenty years have passed since I last saw him. He never kicked his addiction to drugs. Our mothers are still friendly. News of his suicide – despite our unbridgeable distance over the years – is like a small part of my past which has been definitively silenced.
I didn’t think I even cared about him anymore. I was wrong. Alav ha-shalom.