No chance for a cheeseburger

Anyone who reads a few entries on this blog knows I'm wide-open about my life, my doubts, insecurities, everything. Only on this website, though — in the company of other actual humans, I am always behind a wall, sometimes multiple walls.

Even people who know me, don't really know me. To friends, flatmates, and co-workers (when I'm working), I'm that fat guy who doesn't talk much. To my family, I'm the sibling who ran away for thirty years, and they don't even wonder why.

Stephanie, my wife, died five years ago. She knew me, and I knew her, and our lives were wrapped around each other entirely. Without her, everything that's left sucks. Sure, there are still laughs, good times, and life is worth living, but the best day now is never half as good as a dull day with her.

Two weeks ago this morning, my friend Joe killed himself. I'm still, as people annoying say, 'processing it,' and always will be. You don't get over the death of a loved one, but like Old Man River, you just keep rolling along.

Joe was the last person who knew me, really knew me, from the real world. There's no-one now who knows me both deeply and in person. Being unknown is a strange feeling, but I've always enjoyed being anonymous. Now I'll be even more anonymous, and to everyone.

♦ ♦ ♦

I am still angry at my dead buddy Joe, and always will be, but not because he killed himself. Philosophically, no-one has standing to argue that he shouldn't have. The most basic freedom is control over your own life, which includes deciding when it's over.

What angers me is, he never called and said, "Hey, I think it's time to die."

If he'd said that, said anything, I would've been in Pennsylvania quick as a plane could get me there. I would've made some clumsy attempt to talk him out of suicide, but I wouldn't have done all the talking — I would've listened, too, heard and respected whatever he said.

I would not have dialed 9-1-1 and sent my best friend to psychiatrists who'd fuck with his mind — or to the police who'd simply kill him, as they're always likely to do when called for a "mental health crisis."

And also it needs to be said: Whatever was happening inside Joe's head, it wasn't a mental health crisis. Dude was more mentally healthy than me, and if he'd told me why he wanted death, I'll wager his reasoning would've made sense. I wouldn't have wasted time arguing.

All I would've wanted was a last afternoon with him, to buy him a cheeseburger and fries, and share some laughs about the old days, telling each other truths like most people never do.

I wanted a chance to say goodbye, that's all, and he didn't give me that chance. For that I'll always say, Fuck you, Joe.

♦ ♦ ♦

Never been suicidal myself, even in my bleakest depressions, but toss enough insurmountables at me and I could change my mind.

If ever it comes to that, this I pledge: Unless I'm unexpectedly flattened by a truck, there's no frickin' way I'd leave without saying sayonara.

I would give goodbyes to the people in my life, and let them say goodbye, too. Even if it's only a hug for anyone in my family still alive, and a toodle-doo page for the few readers of this blog, I want to say and hear some last words. My life's been a fun story; it deserves a decent ending.

And after posting that final page, I promise to stick around long enough to read and reply to a few comments, before leaving.



  1. Hello Doug:

    Checking in with you. I am finally feeling better. Oh, the tears! That was some pretty deep grief for a guy I haven't actually seen in years. Hope you are feeling better. Are you on Instagram or facebook? Is there another way to reach you other than the blog?



  2. Hello friend of Joe

    I am slightly malfunctional in the head this particular morning, from
    a mix of malt liquor and sleeping pills as a bedtime story for the
    last few hours of elusive sleep, but this too shall pass. in a couple
    three hours.

    You and Henry V were closer to Joey Joe Joe than I, in distance and in person as friends, I think. Were you there for the part I hate -- the service, the human hugs and maybe a breakfast. Did he get a grave a service and were they fine? Did you hug his Virginia and his Mother? What a fucking tragedy for them both and for all who know him.

    Social media you ask, is sadly not for me .mostly. I am on Lemmy and
    Mastadon as Doug Holland, a very brilliantly chosen non de plumbing, don't you think? but I stay away from all the big Twitters and Xs and Facebooks and Instrrgramas and wherever else people go to become less intellligent. LinkdIn unlinked me.

    Your best path to finding me is texting the phone xxxxxxxxxx which is
    close but wrong, it's 425 757 3194 but the phone has no ringer (on
    purpose) so I answer back when I feel up to it, 2 or 3 times a week.
    Email is faster. Usually same day replies.

    Two weeks the man Joe has been gone. No emails. No jokey comments on Reddit. It sucks.

    Has he been in touch with you? I don't believe in afterlife in any way
    but if anyone could pull it off you know it's Joe.

    peace out
    and I see another email from you
    so my peace will be back in soon

  3. Yes, it is the not having a chance to say goodbye.

    Rather than sharing a last meal I would have argued. I would ultimately have respected his decision but I would have argued hard. I would have brainstormed as many ideas as I could to make enough improvements in his life to try a little longer. I could have gathered funds to get him 1st floor accommodations or a place with an elevator or, ...an elevator. I know a place, right now where he is welcome, with an elevator. I would have got him back to SF (if I had to drive there and pick him up) if only for a visit, so he could sit around being fucking adored by about 10 different people who love him. Travel can change things. His big skull walking stick is here for him and it helped him before when we went camping. He went swimming in the eel river and used it.

    If I couldn't convince him to live, I would remind him about his mother just losing his dad and can't he just give it another year?
    I could argue the whole live long day, about such topics as: how things can dramatically change for the better in a minute....or he should at least visit you and other friends first....Any bucket list items he needs to complete first and.... that he is a true source of joy to so many people that he would be an asshole to deny us his crabby loveliness.

    Feels better to list it out. No wonder he didn't give us the heads up. What a hassle. Many would have tried to stop him. I don't know how much pain he was in.

    He could be impulsive. He could have been really upset about something, there are a million different ways to be hurt and just said fuck it, time is now, so long stink town.

    I'm not as mad as I am hurt and I regret not talking with him more or sending him letters and jelly and mail art and crap and I miss him.

    1. No, we did not attend any service. We are in San Francisco. I asked a couple times when and where and only got "soon" as a response. Probably couldn't afford the flight but I wanted to attend. I would think it would help to see him acknowledged and to hear the stories others have about him. I would want his mom to see his friends.

      No hugs, no tear stained program from a service, with his photo on it. No gathering. No visitation.

      I did wake up crying hard from a dream of the event that was vivid and shocking and seemed real.
      If I am receiving any message from Joe it is to check in on you. He definitely considered you his best friend. I heard him say it.

      Not that it is a favor. It is helping me more than you to grief blog his leaving. Henry has probably heard enough sadness out of me lately. Joe's friend is not Joe but a little Joe-like and that's better than nothing.

      My intuition tells me it was sudden and he didnt think about his mom or close friends at the moment. He was in pain, emotional pain and he hated pain. I could be wrong and it could have been planned for a long time but that is not my belief. If it was planned he would have said goodbye.



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