Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Good-Bye, Shane

March 23rd, 2015, it will be three years since my friend, Shane, died. For those three years I have been so angry with him, not only because that he died, but how he died. 

Shane was a unique spirit, that was the draw to him for many people. What I found intriguing about him was his brain, his intelligence, his ego. Those things combined made him an asshole but as my wife likes to say, "he was our asshole." He was and he is. 

His brain: he was so smart it was often scary. He could deduce like a wizard, knowing who the killer was in a thriller, how a movie or book would end ten pages in, the dynamics of a game. He was truly amazing. 

His ego: this was his friend and foe. He had a palpable relationship with his ego. Tug of war, fist fights, ravage lover. He never wanted a single person to test his ego, he never wanted anyone to... love or hate it either. That's how it seemed to me. I will never presume to know what was going on in his mind, this is only what I saw and observed. 

He never seemed compassionate about mental illness. His wife, my dear and best friend, lives with mental illness daily and like all people with mental illness, has suffered with it for decades. Shane seemed on many occasions to try and bully the illness out of her. When my breakdown happened, and I spent the next few months after just trying to clear out the fog, he was known to say how wrong I am for Melissa. No, he really had no sympathy for mental illness and just figured someone could just change their mind and behavior and be done with the illness. 

For three years following his death I was so angry with him, there were few times I could think of him and not feel anger. The reason behind that anger was two reasons: 1. he hurt my friend. When I am friends with someone, I am viciously loyal. And I am fiercely protective. So, when he died, he caused her such pain she is still reeling from it. 2. how he died. This is the hardest to write because to this day, I just cannot understand. 

The night he died, Amanda's mom called Melissa while Melissa was driving home from work. Melissa saw the number, thought it was Amanda, and answered with a cheery, "Hello, friend!" Then she was thunderstruck by the news, "Shane died." When she walked in the door, I could instantly see she'd been crying and then she told me. It didn't sink in, it wasn't possible, it didn't make sense. He was 37. 

There was a free falling sense for the next few hours as we went to Amanda's side, I held her briefly, which is not something Amanda and I do. It's not that we don't love each other, but we're both introverts and aren't really touchy feely. But she was in such pain and shock, the only thing I could do was hold her, and she fell into my arm and we sat silently and waited for the coroner to arrive. 

The next few weeks, my friendship with Amanda grew closer. She couldn't sit at home so she came to my house nearly every night. We talked, she talked, she needed to talk. I learned about Shane during those talks. My love for Shane teetered and often fell, but always came back. After six weeks we learned how he died and my anger came back. He was a huffer. For those who are not familiar with the term, it's someone who, "Inhalant abuse (commonly called "huffing") is the intentional inhalation of chemical vapors to attain a mental "high" or euphoric effect." 

His "drug" of choice was the canned air used to clean electronics. He went through cans and cans of it without any of us knowing. His health started to suffer a month before he died. He seemed to have a cold that wouldn't go away. He died because he was stupid. Plain and simple. He balked at mental illness while he lived and died in one. He found people who couldn't "shake" their illness as weak. Yet, his killed him. I was pissed for his hypocrisy. I was pissed by his blatant disrespect for the struggle people like Amanda and me go through. I was pissed, so very pissed, I could not see anything but him being an asshole. 

But then my anger faded and it hit me, my friend is dead. My wife's best friend is dead. He's gone. His whole life now packed in boxes, his mother childless, his ashes in an urn. I miss him. When my anger started to fade, I could see I really miss him. 

This is my good-bye letter to Shane, thanking him for the time he spent in my life, wishing he were still here, thanking him for loving my friend, for the laughs, for the talks, and the friendship. 

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