Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Dear Stuart,

Your name is getting mentioned more frequently here in the Mohosphere as we approach the 10th anniversary of your death. My own suicide would have followed your's a little over a year later. You took your life on February 25, 2000. My death would probably been sometime between March and August of 2001.

That's when I felt the lowest, but strangely back then you weren't at all on my mind. I'd heard your story, but somehow I didn't relate to it then. I didn't want to commit suicide to send a message, I simply wanted to end the pain. I wonder how many gay Mormon suicides are more like mine almost was, than the more public way you chose to change the scenery.

If I had gone through with it, I probably wouldn't have left a note. I might have even tried to make it look like an accident. But when I felt my most discouraged, rather than plan my exit, I tried to find a way to hang on. Maybe you did that, too. Maybe if I'd been in your shoes, I'd have done what you did, but I was in my shoes.

So what happened? Well your story is still being told and so is mine. Your story is told by others. Your parents tell it. Those who knew you tell it, but mostly I think, your story gets told by those who didn't know you at all. Your story continues to evolve without you. Perhaps it will always do so.

My story I continues to evolve, too, but at least I'm here still adding to it. Some of it is here in my blog. My journals have some of it. My friends and family have bits and pieces. I guess both of our stories are going to go on and on, you're just not in a place where you can still actively contribute to the process.

Or are you? Maybe you and presidents Kimball and Hinckley are talking. Maybe Elders Faust, Maxwell and Brown are in the discussion, too. Maybe you have had some meetings with Evan Stephens, and I sometimes wonder if he's still writing hymns. Maybe all of you are trying to send some messages to all of us and we're just not paying attention.

I want to believe that it's not just your mortal life and death that have made a difference to so many of us. I want to believe that it is also the life you continue to lead. That's what I want to believe.

What I do know is that I'm glad to be alive. I'm glad there are such things as suicide helplines, counselors, medications, prayer, scriptures, loving family, amazing friends and a compassionate Bishop, or two or three. I'm glad I've kept going to church. I'm glad I'm still here in this life, in this neighbohod, in this ward and stake, in this workplace and in my own home. I'm grateful for old friends and some new ones, too. In all of these venues and relationships there is room to learn and grow. I thank you for the role you've played (and are playing?) in helping all of us gain a greater understanding of each other and some of the challenges we face.

I'm looking forward to meeting you someday Stuart, but I hope it isn't anytime soon. I guess that's because I've found out that I pretty much like life. It was awful in 2001 for me, but in 2002 it got a little better, and it 2003 and 2004 it got a ton better and now here we are in the year 2010 and you know what? For a decade that started pretty poorly for me, it's been pretty good. What's amazing is that I don't think these good years would have been possible without that dark time in my life in 2001. It was terrible, but it was also instructional.

I hope you get a chance to read this. I just wish you were still here with us.

See you on the other side,