“i don’t believe that people should take their own lives without deep and thoughtful reflection over a considerable period of time.”
— wendy o. williams, punk rock performer, d. April 6, 1998
27 january 2002. i think i got the call the next day, or maybe the day after. your dad called mine and i didn’t think anything of it until my dad walked back into the room and said, “that was terry. devon killed himself”.
it took me months to get back to normal. i still think of the last time i saw you smiling, laughing and saying something that made me realise that the two of us–two cousins who fought like cats and dogs, beat the shit out of each other, always getting into trouble–were more alike than i had remembered. we both had that look, the one that made strangers know we weren’t just dumb little kids. we were more. and grandma and grandpa cole, they always called us the smart ones. we were, we were nothing like the other coles.
but we are. we both have it, that aching and neverending pain, that inexplicable dull and murderous emptiness. our big eyes tired and red from the crying you can’t stop, those parents who don’t care, completely incapable of understanding. i know what it’s like. i know how you felt. i wish you had called me, because out of anyone on this whole fucking planet, devon, i would’ve understood.
you should be done with college by now, or like me, a well-meaning but casual slacker. they put a university in the city where you died, maybe you would have gone there, graduating last spring with the first lady in attendance. or maybe you’d live in san jose and be in the midst of your 8- to 10-year sentence at sjsu.
but you’re not. today is your birthday, little cuz. i never forget. i should be taking you out for drinks tonight, celebrating and laughing instead of remembering and crying. i hate you for doing this to me, but i don’t blame you. i know how it feels. so many times i think of it myself, and then i recall how unreal it felt to be staring down at you in your casket, your face painted with fake colour. of everyone there, friends and family and strangers, i know i was the only one who pulled down the collar of your shirt to check for ligature marks (you would’ve done the same to me). i still laugh at the guy who fainted during your funeral–of course an emt would faint at another emt’s funeral–and cringe when i think of the music they played. sorry about that.
i don’t know if you’re one of them now, the collective of coles that no one talks about in detail because they don’t know how to talk about suicide without emotion. why don’t they just realise that’s our preferred way of leaving? we are nothing if not stubborn and independent, and nothing says that quite like suicide. i still talk about you. i don’t want to make you into one of those guys. that’s why i remember, remember, every 6th of november. your kitten that was so tiny, the day you kissed me and i punched you, the ninja turtles that hurt so bad when you threw them at me, horseback riding and christmas morning at the ranch, mcdonalds fries and campfires, and when we laughed so hard when your brother got stung by a bee that we pissed ourselves. oh boy.
i miss you, devon. happy birthday.