Walk with a Friend after a Suicide

For Dave

Jet Ski

Photo by whl.travel


“So you never know,” I would have told you.  “If when you get up in the morning, it’s going be that day when you meet someone new and ride a jet ski for the first time.”



We were supposed to go walking on a Wednesday, but that Monday you were gone.

Last week, I went on that walk by myself.

It was a Thursday, not a Wednesday, and the fall colors had advanced by two weeks, but it was identical weather to that day – “partly sunny” and full of spiders.  The spiders were everywhere.  You couldn’t walk two feet without seeing one sitting in the middle of its web, watching you through eight beady little eyes.  If you had been there, you would have offered your own take on the arachnid invasion, something outrageous and amusing that would make us both laugh.

Next we would walk past the shocking blue house, the sight of which always leaves me speechless.  You would compare its color to something so obscure and perfect, I would never look at the house in the same way again.

When we came upon the secret stream, its existence unknown to the traffic above, we would listen to it murmur in the quiet spaces between the speeding cars.  Here I would point out the few edible blackberries nestled among their withered siblings and we would treat ourselves to the last of the season.  You would know better than to ask me the names of the purple flowers or tiny cherry-red berries.  But if you did, I might have said, “Things don’t have to be named to be appreciated.”  You would laugh and agree.  Or maybe you would disagree, just to be adversarial.

At the new traffic light, we would stop and press the “walk” button.  When the light changed, we would startle at the audio signal – a noise much like an automated weapon being fired.  “Run for cover!” you’d yell, and when we were safely to the other side you’d say, “What the hell was that?”  We would shake our heads and voice concern for the visually impaired, suffering constant duress from crosswalk gunmen.

When we reached the park, I would tell you about the fireworks show.  In the 17 months since you’d been away, you would have missed two of them.  Perhaps we would have walked on the dock, out into the lake.  We might have sat on the bench where Nick and Adria scratched their names inside of a heart, and watched the cormorants balancing on their posts.  I would have told you about the sunny day a few years ago, when I sat on this dock, watching all the motorboats and kayaks.  A teenage girl rode up on her jet ski and struck up a conversation.  She was staying with her dad for the weekend, she said, pointing to one of the big houses on the lake.  “Would you like a ride?” she asked.  And having never ridden a jet ski before, I said “yes”.

“So you never know,” I would have told you.  “If when you get up in the morning, it’s going be that day when you meet someone new and ride a jet ski for the first time.”

Later, we would walk the last part on the bicycle path, along the playground and picnicking areas, past the competing houses on the water, and across the street to our usual meeting place.  Back in the Commons by the bookstore, you would bemoan the loss of the Mexican Restaurant.  “I know,” I would agree.  “They had the best fish tacos.  And the pizza place is Vietnamese food now.”  You would find this puzzling, but shrug and go see what they had to offer.

If you had shown up that day, maybe over plates of sushi and noodles, I could have lured you out of the darkness that had become your home.  But the thing about suicide is there’s no chance for rebuttal.  The case is closed before every argument is heard.

So I find myself alone at our table, stuck in this never-ending loop of should haves and what ifs.  But I know that I have to let it go.  I have to let go of this guilt and this anger, and eventually, finally, this sorrow.

I will not dwell on that Monday.  And when I do recall it, it will be to acknowledge and forgive our humanness.

Instead, I will count up the minutes and days, weeks and months, when you didn’t believe you could be here, but you stayed.  You endured their treatment and drugs, their beds and their counseling.  You tried, for a really really long time – much longer than you thought you could.  And I love you and thank you for that.

You have been a generous friend, an engaged father, an outspoken crusader, a gifted writer, a bull-headed jackass, and an irreverent clown.  But never, in all the years of our friendship, have you ever been a liar.  So when the last thing you said to me was “Catch you later,” I find no alternative but to take you at your word.

Until then, my friend, know that you are missed.

And that you are loved.  Always.


Anita Sheridan Price is a writer in Seattle, Washington


  1. Patsy Treece

    Thanks for this Anita. It’s perfect. I miss him too.

  2. Laura Adams

    I’m sorry, Anita. So very sad and difficult to deal with. Your post made me smile. And ache, but I’ve been aching anyway. I appreciate the smile. Thanks.

  3. Sarah Pietsch

    Oh, Anita. Thank you for this beautiful portrait and for creating a bit more space to ache and wonder and heal.

  4. stephanie speight

    I logged into face book today for the first time in many months in search
    of a link to a friends piece. . . instead I found this portrait of a friend
    and it so touched my soul . . . I walked with you both through
    the piece . . . vivid and deeply felt. Thank you

    Sending love


  5. healinghamlet

    Thank you all for the supportive comments. It’s a loss for so many.

  6. Betsy James

    Beautifully written Anita and it really captures Dave. I can just see/hear him doing the things you describe. Thank you for sharing your words.