His name was Marcel and by our sophomore year of high school I was nursing a pretty solid crush on him. His hair was always meticulously coiffed and no one could pull off brightly patterned shirt like he could. He was not the first gay boy I was in love with and he certainly wouldn’t be the last, but he was special because he was Marcel.
He was one of us. He never came out to me but I knew, I think most of us did, but as choir and theatre kids it never mattered one way or another. The only thing that mattered was that he was sweet, kind and so funny.
I have an image of him burned into my brain, he is either getting in or out of a friends car and he is leaning into the car smiling at me. It’s the image that I see every time he messaged me or we emailed.
He was in my life every day and then he wasn’t for a long time as school and careers go and then he was back. We reconnected shortly after he had suffered a stroke at a very young age and he fought his way back to health. His perfect coif replaced by a bald dome, and he rocked that too. The meticulous dress and style was still there and he was HIMSELF. His recovery was hard, he was discouraged, then determined, suffering set back after setback both health and life wise. His job lost, he moved back to Colorado where we both grew up, and where I escaped as fast as I could. We had both been in Los Angeles together for years and yet never once run into each other. It was Facebook that brought us back together and Facebook that tore us apart.
He was healthy again, physically, basically a miracle. He was still funny and so smart and kind, so kind. Last week he changed his profile picture and cover photo on Facebook and it seemed so sad. I messaged him instantly. His heart was broken, we have all been there. We chatted for a while. I told him I loved him and he was awesome and all the things you tell a friend when their heart is broken. I checked in on him on Friday picking up our conversation where we left off, he was sad. He told me he was going to take a trip this weekend, go somewhere alone. I told him that was good, he needed to relax and take care of himself. He replied with 8 crying emojis and then signed off.
How should I have responded to that? I suppose 8 heart and kisses emojis. Something. One more word.
Saturday afternoon I checked his Facebook and saw a gorgeous picture of a bridge, and smiled. He was going on his trip, it was a gorgeous day and surely the fresh air and sunshine would do him good. A few moments later a status update. A good bye. By the time I commented there were MANY comments. Friends were mobilizing, calling police departments and parents, I tried calling him, messaging him…nothing.
He was already gone. I know this because newspaper article has witness statements with times. I shouldn’t have read them, and I certainly shouldn’t have read the comments. I want to tell them all he WAS loved. Any and all of us from his past to his present are reeling wishing we could have one more word, one more conversation, one more chance.
So tell your loved ones you love them. Ask them if they need to talk.
For us now, left behind (and I am on the periphery of this, my heart is with his family and loved ones) we are lost, wishing to go back in time, to heal him, never leave him alone, to somehow change the outcome.
Depression is an insidious disease, and it stole a great man from us this week. I will miss you Marcel.
And I see him leaning in the car, perfect hair and joyful smile, looking right into my eyes. Happy.
If you or anyone else is feeling hopeless, the National Suicide Prevention Hotline number is 1 (800) 273-8255
Please call. It may seem hopeless and that you won’t be missed, but I promise you, you will be. Greatly.