Let’s call him Greg David. No last name.
You could tell how people knew him. If they called him Greg, I would say to myself, they don’t know him. If you called him GD, it meant you knew him on personal level, and goddamn he was a great guy to know.
I would think of new things to call him. Giggle Dick. Greasy Donut. Whatever.
He got a kick out of it. He knew my drive to work was thinking up the day’s nickname for him.
I knew him before we started working together. Not well, but he became one of my best friends.
It’s a bit cliché, but my dad used to tell me, you’re lucky if you get through it all and have enough true friends to count on one goddamn hand. I don’t know that I fully accept that. There are people who I haven’t spoken to in years, whose presence I truly cherish. There are people I only know from online interactions whom I truly wish well. At some level, I think there is merit to my dad’s words.
In my twenties, I had a very solid group of friends. I assumed they would be part of that five. Now, in my mid-forties, I haven’t seen those folks for over a decade – nothing but good thoughts for them, but – goddamn – friends come in and out of your life.
I may have enemies. I’ve made my mistakes, so I am sure there are at least a few people who want me to rot in hell.
GD quickly became one of the handful. As men, we don’t often get other guys in our lives with whom we can really get into the details. Depression, anxiety, the real meat and potatoes of what it is to be human: we are discouraged from doing that. GD and I let all that go. We talked about what really mattered, and it bonded us as lifelong friends.
I spoke to him on the phone on October 12th. I meant to call him on the 13th, but didn’t get around to it.
Another one of those for me is named Chris. He called me on October 15th, after I got home from my aunt’s funeral. I was already in a goddamn mood. I answered the phone eager to talk to Chris.
He only had a few minutes to talk, but he told me GD was gone, and he told me it was suicide.
I felt a flash of heat and then a tingle through my body. Then, stiff and unable to move.
At a certain level, it seems exploitative to even write it down. It feels like a goddamn ploy for attention to mention it in a public forum. Perhaps it shouldn’t.
I won’t say his real name here, but I want his name to live on, even if he was one of those guys who went by his initials.
There is no rationale why. He didn’t leave a letter. Things seemed good for him. He just bought a new house. He had an active social life. He had good friends.
But you never know what is going on in someone’s head.
I have no great insight. I am still trying to sort it all out in my own head. Seems selfish. I don’t really want any further condolences. Again: I don’t want attention. I want catharsis. I want time to pass, and I want the perspective that comes with reflection.
I want to be able to say things.
Like goddamn him for being such a good friend to me.
Goddamn him for loving me like family.
Goddamn the pain that drove him to his decision.
Goddamn me for not seeing it.
Goddamn me for not having the words to express how this feels.
That’s what I have: goddamn and nothing left to do but to call it by its initials.
ERNEST GORDON TAULBEE lives in Louisville, Kentucky with his family. Twitter (X) handle is @gordtaul.