This is going to be a difficult post to write. And likely, a difficult post to read.
This is Laythe Wilson. I've known him since he was a kid. I got to watch him grow. As a kid, he was in my Sunday School class that I taught. As he grew, he spent lots of time upstairs in the video room at church, with Yanni and I. We talked about many things. We played games together, at LAN parties and online (he's the one who introduced me to Minecraft). We shared about fantasy books we'd read, and recommended books to each other (we went to an author signing once -- Rothfuss, Weeks and Sanderson, in the same day!). I watched him go through a remarkable physical transformation as he prepared to enter the military. When that fell through, for reasons beyond his control, we discussed it at length.
He had a good number of struggles, but I watched him rise above them all. He was one of those friends that I just always assumed would be there.
Sunday night, I received news that I was, in every way, unprepared to hear.
I was on the way home from a meeting I'd had, in reference to the web series that has been absorbing me lately. "Call Mrs. Jo when you get home. Something has happened. She doesn't want you to hear of it while you're driving."
Uh oh. That's not good.
It was a long drive home. My mind, being what it is, couldn't help but speculate. Someone got hurt. Someone died. That has to be it, right? But who could it have been? For better or worse, my mind assembled a list of possibilities, and how I would try to handle it. Yeah, it's morose, I'm sorry, but I felt I wanted to be prepared mentally.
Never once, in that long, tense drive home, did the possibility of Laythe being mentioned enter my mind. When I got home and Mrs. Jo told me Laythe took his own life, I was wholly unprepared to hear it. A sledgehammer to the chest would have been less force.
Laythe, with the gang at one of our LAN parties.
It's been very difficult to process. I cannot get my head around it. In the last 48 hours, I've run through the gamut of emotions, tried in vain to come up with reasons and explanations, and I'm learning some things about myself in the process.
I've always kind of pictured my heart to be like a room, with shelves on all of the walls. On these shelves are little figurines, each one representing a person in my life. I keep the ones that mean the most to me at eye level. And they're always there, as though rooted in place. To me, I can go long stretches without even interacting with these pieces/people, but I take comfort in the fact that they are always there, a prominent place on my heart shelf. Laythe was one of those pieces. And this leads to a brutally honest bit of soul-searching on my part...
I'm wired in such a way as to be a relative loner. I don't need constant nurturing to maintain my friendships. Once a person has earned a place on a Shelf of Honor in my heart, that's their spot, forever. I don't need constant communication, or risk losing them. It's set in stone to me. Add to this fact the idea that I hate feeling like I'm bothering people (so I rarely feel compelled to contact people outside of normally-scheduled interactions), and you get a recipe for distance.
I'm sure you see where I'm going with this...
I can't help but wonder if I should have done more to be in contact with Laythe. If he was a good friend to me (and I assure you, I held him as such), then why wouldn't I be in contact with him more? I don't think "I didn't want to bug him" holds much water, especially in light of what has occurred. There had to have been red flags going up that would have signaled something was wrong. I should have seen it.
So it's making me question how I handle friendships.
God, if I could just talk to him again, real quick. Even just a minute.
I've also noticed this past 48 hours or so, that when the pain gets too intense, some of it breaks off and morphs into anger. How could he do this to his family? I'm not saying this anger is in any way justified -- in fact, it's likely merely a sign of my own immaturity. The whole Wilson family means a lot to me, especially the kids. And to know what they're going through right now, how torn up they are... I've tasted that red-hot pain before, I'm sure many of us have. This week especially will be their own unique brand of hell on earth. And it will take months -- years -- for it to simmer down into a steady, dull, barely-tolerable ache.
Laythe and His Sisters...
I can only assume Laythe had a darn good reason for putting them through this. I wish I knew what it was. Not that it could change anything at this point. But that's a reflection of that anger I mentioned before. As much as it pains me that he's gone -- and that there's nothing I can do about it -- I have to force it to make sense. I'm definitely not going to ask the Wilson's what they think the reason was, and I can't for the life of me come up with it on my own... and so it's driving me a bit batty. I need to know why there's a Laythe-shaped hole in my heart right now when there shouldn't be.
He was supposed to always be there, on my shelf. And now his piece is missing, moved without my permission to another shelf -- a shelf that it hurts to look at. And it's really doing a number on me.
The Wilson boys...
So the memorial service for Laythe is this Saturday. I have the honor of creating the memorial slideshow for him. I get to look at tons of photos of his smiling face, add cute little motion effects, set them to music, and have my heart ripped out. But I want to do it, with everything inside me.
I may never understand why he decided to pull the plug. Knowing Laythe, I can assure you he gave it plenty of thought. Which again triggers the guilt. I should have known, on some level. Granted, I know, he was a grown-up and could make those decisions on his own, and it's kind of nonsensical to take that responsibility on myself, even in part. But that's my head speaking. When my head and heart argue over this, my heart wins, every time. I should have been a better friend.
Well, perhaps I can start being a better friend to the rest of the pieces on my shelves.
Wow, this was hard to write. I'm grateful for the forum to express this. I don't think I could get up on Saturday and say this to people in person, but I needed to say this.
Dave the Deeply Rattled