One of my daughter Jessie’s best friends (not her boyfriend) hung himself. He was one of the most creative, bright, talented and energetic young men I had ever met. They called him “Jon Fair, Jesus Hair” because he had long hair and did indeed look like Jesus. For Halloween a few years ago, I wove him a crown of twigs and he went about in a sheet toga looking frightfully like a Jesus.
He was also a hyper-responsible boy she had known for many years. His mother was a **** ****** so he became the parent, working two and three jobs and four, buying a trailer for her when he was still in high school, buying a car, foregoing college so he could support her.
I think he just wore himself out and didn’t see any other way out. I had counseled him for years to lighten up, to let his mom stand on her own, to extricate himself from the bad situation, act his young age. He just couldn’t see any way to do that.
Jessie and Jon were born within 4 days of each other, and celebrated their 21st birthday with a big party at my house together. Jessie felt she was his soul mate, and they were fast friends in the past few years. But it was always platonic, and she eventually helped him to realize that he was gay. It was one of the hardest things that ever happened to her.
Jon suffered from terrible depression. Jessie had to pick him up from the counselor because they would not let him leave alone, fearing the worst. He was trying different antidepressants but they take a while to work and in the meantime they were messing him up even more.
About a week and a half later, Jon simply disappeared. His cell phone voice mailbox piled up. Jessie pinned a note to the door of his apartment telling him she missed his sweet face. The sheriffs say he was living out of his car in the woods nearby us. That is where he hung himself in the last 24 hours.
Jessie’s friends are all like family, and they are all gathered together. This is life in a small town, and it hit everyone like a brick.
When Jessie told me that Jon was missing, I almost said to her, “he is too delicate for this world” but held the words back. Now I know it was true.
I thought Jon knew he was loved, but I tossed and turned all night because I never actually told him so. I so wish I had lightly said one time as he was leaving, “you are loved, you know.” It wouldn’t have had to be a big thing to say it.
I woke up this morning with a vow that I will tell people that, I will not take it for granted that they know. It doesn’t matter how they receive it, I simply must tell them. Simply loving someone is not enough. We must tell it, and we must show it.
Postscript: This was originally published the week of Jon’s death. Since then my daughter and all of Jon’s friends have gathered to honor him each year for a weekend they call “Fair Days.” It has made them a tight-knit group, they all grew up that fateful day at the very same time.