Nate’s Empty Chair

On one’s journey on the road of life there are events which we meet which touch the core of whom and what we are.  One such tragic event is the sudden death of a friend.

When you are a teenager, death is something that happens to those older people.  When a teenage contemporary dies, especially by their own hands, a teenage life takes on a reality which should be reserved for us older ones.

What makes such a tragic event sadder is that his/her friends did not see it coming.  Many people, especially teenagers, carry deep within them at their very core a pain which cannot be spoken or written.

Like a cancer it eats away the fabric of life.  To outer appearance a young man or woman seems to doing the things that every teenager seems to be doing: practical jokes, texting, Facebook entries, posting silly videos on YouTube, etc.

Let’s look at the story of one of these teenagers.  Let refer to him as Nate.

Nate is 15 and has a lot of friends.  However, hidden away from friends is a festering torment.  Nate’s parents divorced when he was about 7.  His mother was distant emotionally as she dealt with her pain and tears.  Nate’s dad is a blank presence in his young life.

Living near-by are Nate’s grandparents.  They are a stable influence, but the pain of his parents’ abandonment festers.

In school he is picked on by the bullies.  Bullies seem to have a sixth sense about who they can torment without consequences to themselves.  These individuals are the dregs of society.

When he was 14 he went to help his grandfather.  His grandmother told Nate to check in the barn where his grandfather was working on the old tractor.

What Nate found in the barn that day would forever change him.  His grandfather had been crushed by his tractor when the jack slipped.

Nate’s grandfather’s death sent him into depression.  Unfortunately, sometimes older ones just shrug their shoulders and say that he/she will get over it.  Teenagers are resilient and tough, they say.

Unfortunately, Nate was not resilient and tough.  The scars of his young life were too jagged.

So on a Saturday afternoon he went to his backyard and stood by the play set his grandfather had given him.  No one knows what went through his mind as he stood there.

A few hours later his best friend came over because Nate was not answering his cell phone.  There in the place where he was a happy child before the cruelties of life flooded his young soul, he hanged himself.

For Nate’s friends this part of life’s journey became part of their journey.  The viewing and the funeral brought to the surface the assortment of feelings of grief, guilt, and those other emotions which us older ones deal with daily on this planet traversing the cosmos.

His friends cried and hugged each other.  As they looked at Nate laying there his color was not natural.  It was not the Nate they knew and loved.

As the funeral ended on a cool September day in the cemetery overlooking an ancient river valley, Nate’s friends wrote their parting words on his casket before it was lowered into the hole of aphar (earth).  Surreal was the scene because death to a teenager is a harsh reality which should never intrude into their young lives.

The custom of placing someone in a box and placing the box in a hole and covering it with dirt seems like a strange ritual.  This is how one segment of society deals with the one who has passed beyond the confines of earth.

One would hope for teenagers like Nate there is a place for them in the cosmic ocean.  Their short lives on this terrestrial globe were filled with miseries which tore them apart and eventually led them to a desperate act to find some sort of peace, a solace from the barrenness of their existence.

If you or someone you know may be facing the overwhelming realities of cruel Fate, there are resources available to you in your community.  Reach out to someone who can help you.

A teenage life is precious.  However, it’s fragile like pink Depression glass.

G. D. Williams       © 2012

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Resources:

http://www.teensuicide.us/

http://kidshealth.org/parent/emotions/behavior/suicide.html

http://www.helpguide.org/mental/depression_teen.htm

http://www.stopbullying.gov/

http://kidshealth.org/teen/your_mind/problems/bullies.html