Thursday, May 29, 2008

Some Old Classmates and Their Fates

A conversation the other day got me thinking about some of my classmates from High School. Now to be blunt I was not Big Man on Campus or anything remotely approaching such a description (Big surprise there right?). I was far from the bottom of my class social pecking order but I was also a long way from the top. I got along quite well with most of my classmates with a few exceptions but only one of the three I want to discuss really bothered me at all.

That was John. He was a second tier jock with decent but not great grades and an all around jerk. He was one of those people who were up a ways in the social order but felt their position needed to be secured by belittling others. There was a student who I think was two years younger than us with a minor speech impediment which John enjoyed mimicking whenever the two were anywhere near each other. He would rub the biceps and go "Oooh" to anyone who wasn't of Jock caliber (a treatment I got a couple of times from him, but others got it far worse.) Yet in spite of his cruelty to those he considered, or needed to consider, inferior to him he was fairly popular, but not as popular as he thought he should be. When our homecoming court was selected my senior year he was stunned and angry because he was not selected for it and could not understand why.

Another student was Darrell. Now unlike John, I liked Darrell and got along with him quite well. In fact we were lab partners in Chemistry for a quarter. Now he too was a second tier jock with decent but mediocre grades, but unlike John he was genuinely popular. He was nice looking, athletic, and genuinely friendly and, being an only child of affluent parents, he had a lot of cool stuff. He was also our senior class president and the girls loved him.

And then there was Dave. Now Dave started out alright being a first tier jock, one of my class's best basketball players and a reasonably good Wide Receiver in football. He was also a pretty decent student and quite popular but after our freshman year he went downhill - - - badly! He discovered speed and by my senior year he was barely passing his classes, was no longer an athlete and had pretty much became a burn out. I liked him alright and we got along okay, but I was often troubled by how a student could begin their High School Career with such promise and end up a doper.

These three classmates of mine all share something.

All three of them took loaded guns, put them to their heads . . .

and pulled the trigger.

For John it was two years after we graduated. He had gotten a brand new car for graduation and a couple of years later he wrecked it. Since he still lived with his parents, he went home, took a gun, went into the basement and did it; he was found by his parents. When I was younger I intensely disliked him, for obvious reasons, but now I think about the times I heard him say to various students "I would rather be dead than you" or "If I was as ugly as you I'd kill myself." or "I wouldn't want to live if I needed religion to be happy." I realize that he had real problems and now I feel sad as I think about him.

For Darrell it was just a few years ago when we were in our late 40s. Straight out of High School he married a very pretty local girl and they were together until they reached their early to mid 30s, then he divorced her and married another pretty girl in her early 20s. That lasted until just before he did himself in when he divorced her and made a serious effort to land a girl young enough to be his daughter. When she rebuffed him he killed himself. Apparently he couldn't handle the fact that he was getting on toward middle-age and was no longer able to attract pretty real-young women.

Dave did it a few months after John did it. I am really not sure why he did it, but several of the gang he ran with tried to commit suicide and he was one of a couple that were successful. All I know is that he was higher than a kite when he did it. Maybe it just seemed like a good idea at the time. I really don't know.

Three lives wasted.

They say everyone considers suicide at least once in their life and I know I thought about it some 20 years ago. What stopped me is that I didn't want to hurt my family and I really didn't want to die. I just wanted the pain I was feeling to go away.

Oddly, I only know one of my Bible College classmates who committed suicide and that was a bizarre circumstance. After a traumatic event he was given anti-depressants which didn't work, but drove him into a deeper depression and he killed himself. I was not around at the time but all who were close to him said he should not have been put on that medication.

What troubles me is that all three of my classmates did themselves in over nothing. Wrecking a car is certainly no reason to kill yourself and getting older is also a dumb reason as it happens to everyone. Dave was just a wasted life in every sense of the word. It's also a sad reflection on what makes life worth living and what we can't live without. Yet when one begins think that, not only is there no real hope in this world, but that this world is all there is - - - thus existence is hopeless - - - well I guess it could lead to that.

I can't imagine existing without any hope. There is not a lot of hope in this world, but it is only a proving ground for the next one where hope is real and eternal. That gives me light in deepest darkness, stability in chaos, and a measure of contentment even in the most depressing of circumstances. Life in this world is not endless joy yet I have the promise and I know He will keep it.

I don't know why I wrote this posting, but felt a compulsion to do so.


Blogger OregonGuy said...

"But" it was a hella post.


Me? I "blog" because I need to vent. I keep thinking about that story, "I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream". Read it in high school.

And it's cheaper than therapy! And that money is now used for the occasional message. Ah!

If you've read Henderson the Rain King, perhaps the answer is not found in "I want" as much as is found in what I don't want.

9:44 PM  
Blogger Mark said...

Wow that sounds like a lot of suicide for just one H.S. class.
I went to school in Illinois but moved south right after high school, never kept up with my school buddies. I see some people I went to school with on classmates, but nobody I was close to.

10:48 PM  
Blogger Bob said...

Thanks for the thought-provoking post.

10:53 PM  
Blogger Patrick Joubert Conlon said...

"They say everyone considers suicide at least once in their life and I know I thought about it some 20 years ago. What stopped me is that I didn't want to hurt my family and I really didn't want to die."

Nope, some of us have never considered it. It's ridiculous.

As Mark said "that sounds like a lot of suicide for just one H.S. class."

Was it something in the water?

No wonder that you became so religious. I think I preferred your post about the spring.

2:12 AM  
Blogger Tim said...

"There is not a lot of hope in this world, but it is only a proving ground for the next one where hope is real and eternal."

SR, this is (no offense)about the STUPIDIST THING THAT YOU HAVE EVER WRITTEN!

There is eternal hope for people who are optimistic and take off the blinders and just look around!
Why do people have kids if they think that there is only a faint glimmer of hope to be had in this world? One does not need to be an athiest to enjoy living in the moment and appreciating all of life's daily joys. When I hugged my son before he left for school. Or seeing my daughter go to the Senior Prom tomight. Skiing down a mountain, riding a wave or watching the Sun rise over the ocean. "This is the day that the Lord has made". Don't be so focused on the hereafter that you miss out on the here and now! I really think you need a girlfriend!

I agree that all three of these men were misguided and came to a tragic end. Suicide truly is "the coward's way out". Having seen death in the Coast Guard, I'm in no hurry to experience it first hand. PJC and I have never even contemplated suicide and never will. Oh sure, maybe the thought had popped into my mind, but never in a serious way.

There are endless adventures in the here and now. One simply needs the courage to get through the rough spots. Get out there and enjoy your life and stop ruminating over depressing thoughts like these and you will see that we truly live in a wonderful, amazing, vibrant world!

11:48 AM  
Blogger Gayle said...

You needed to talk about it, Shoprat, or write about it, so you did. Good for you! It must have been quite depressing having three people you know commit suicide.

I honestly have never even entertained the thought, so I don't think everyone considers it at least once in their lifetime, because I honestly never have and I'm too old to start now! :)

When we realize that life is indeed a gift and a precious one that we aren't supposed to squander, we don't think about doing things like that.

6:48 PM  
Blogger shoprat said...

I guess I wasn't clear on hope in this world. Without God there is no hope in this world and with Him there is. I thought the next few sentences made that clear but I guess it didn't.

My own brief suicidal thoughts years ago were probably not that big of a deal as I never even began to carry it out.

The number of suicides in my class is really not that phenomenal though two of them killing themselves months apart was noted when it happened and the third was almost thirty years later.

I "got religion" quite a while before the first suicide. Had nothing to do with it.

7:50 PM  
Blogger The Practicalist said...

I got where you were going with this. I don't recall that I have seriously considered suicide, but to see what sends different people over the edge just helps those of us who are living our lives as normal to just take a moment to reevaluate our perspectives. Are we grounded in long-lasting principles, or short-term desires? Many of your earlier comments are from people who have probably had good perspective for so long, they can't imagine ever not having it, or just don't see the need to contemplate it anymore. I am a dad of young children, and it is stories such as these that remind me of the importance of imparting truth and wisdom and sense of self worth and relationship with the Almighty, so that my children will hopefully be able to avoid the severe devastation and loneliness and selfishness that leads one to this kind of action.

So, thank you, Shoprat.

8:25 PM  

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