Day 13 – A band or artist that has gotten you through some tough ass days.
(I was supposed to write a letter. I did not.)
My grade school was tiny. Less than 100 students total from JK to grade 6. It wasn’t one big unconditional friendship, but we all knew who each other was and as we slowly moved on to middle school and then high school, we could easily identify which students had gone to our wee educational institution. We were a part of a club.
Later, in high school, I worked at a fast food restaurant, like everyone else in high school. I also worked with a boy who had gone to my public school, two years younger than I. We weren’t friends when we were young, and we were acquaintances at best at work. I was the supervisor, and a tough one at that, which made it hard to be anyone’s friend. I didn’t know very much about him, other than he had gone to my grade school, he was sort-of friends with my cousin (who also worked at the restaurant), and that he was a nice, cool kid. We talked at work, joked around and made our shifts tolerable, but we didn’t hang out off-shift.
One afternoon, I came to the store just to eat. I don’t know what compelled me to come that day, but I did. When I walked in, there was a somber feel in the air. It was thicker than the fry grease. I came to the counter and saw that everyone was crying. A silent, controlled cry that spread throughout the store.
“Miles is dead. He killed himself.”
At first I thought it was a joke. A horrible, disgusting joke. But it couldn’t be true. I had only heard of a one other person killing themselves in my hometown and I certainly hadn’t gone to grade school with them. Things like this didn’t happen to people I knew. Miles was happy, funny, full of life. He wouldn’t have killed himself. This was a mistake. They were wrong.
But they weren’t wrong. Years earlier, Miles’ mom had died of cancer. He was absolutely torn apart, understandably, even years later. The night before, Miles had gotten himself drunk. Canadian drunk, which is a whole different beast. He got drunk and decided to be with his mother. So he met with a train, head-on.
Miles was popular – like I said, he was a good guy and people love fun-loving good guys. At his funeral, it was standing room only and there wasn’t a dry eye in the church. Part way through the ceremony, someone, presumably one of his friends, got up to sing. Angel by Sarah McLachlan. The song, word for ever-loving word, rang through the air like it was written for that very moment.
There’s always one reason
To feel not good enough
And it’s hard at the end of the day
I need some distraction
Oh beautiful release
Memory seeps from my veins
Let me be empty
And weightless and maybe
I’ll find some peace tonight
Those who knew him infinitely better than I did were so damn angry at him that day. But there was no denying that he must have been in an incredible amount of pain. The lyrics forced us to think beyond that anger and feel his hurt. Through the song, we heard what he couldn’t say. That he needed peace and he could only find it in the arms of his angel – his mother.
Hearing that song at that moment on that day didn’t make anything better. Everyone was still crushed by Miles’ suicide. They were still devastated and furious and overcome with sadness. But it was exactly what we needed to hear. We hoped he found comfort.
Miles wasn’t the last person I knew to kill themselves. Other classmates, a friend’s father. And he was far from the last person to have passed away. Forevermore, I will hear this song, in my mind, when I need comforting. It doesn’t cure the sadness. It often exacerbates it. But it reminds me that perhaps there’s peace. After this. After emotional pain, extended debilitating illness, there may be peace.