When I was sixteen years old, I had a friend. His name was Frank. Frank was one of those “once-in-a-lifetime” people. Smarter than most people I knew, Frank had an exterior that kept some people at distance, but once he spoke two words, you were entranced. I met him on the first day of school in ninth grade. I had just started public school after eight very sheltered years at a small Catholic school, and I knew about three people in a class of over four hundred. For reasons that I can’t quite place right now, I had decided to take a freshman level drama class. I had absolutely no talent whatsoever as an actress, had never taken a drama class before, and when I walked in to the room I had no idea what to expect. The class ended up being a real live Breakfast Club, only there were more of us and no one ever started dancing around the class after smoking pot in the library (okay, maybe they did, but I was shy and insecure and sort of a loser who probably didn’t realize what was going on).
Frank was someone I’m sure I’d have never spoken to otherwise, but in the confines of this particular class, we were forced on a daily basis to interact with people we’d normally steer clear of, and not only interact, but just plain act. We’d have improv sessions where we’d have to come up with characters off the top of our heads, monologues that we’d write ourselves (usually about the total pain and crappiness of being a teenager) and have mini-love scenes (nothing too racy, we were fifteen) with people that wouldn’t think to look our direction in a crowded high school hallway. All of this up-close and personal activity bonded us in a way I honestly haven’t found since. I remember wishing the semester would never end, and in an act of warding off time, we all signed up for Drama II the next semester.
Frank was probably the most interesting and unique person I had ever met. He wore black eyeliner around his beautiful green eyes, fishnet shirts with his thumbs sticking through the holes, and giant jeans with a wallet chain hanging out of his back pocket. He was soft spoken and brilliant, and we spent many classes talking about everything, from his love for his gorgeous girlfriend to politics to music (always, always talking about Nirvana). I ended up briefly dating his best friend, and that led to a whole new level of friendship for Frank and I, especially when his friend threatened to kill himself when I broke up with him. I’d never been around people with such raw emotion, and had no idea what I was dealing with. Frank talked me through it, always calm and cool, his kind eyes and handsome face searching mine to see if I’d be broken, to try and mend any damage. He knew how insecure and lost I was, and was one of a very few who knew that even though I was portraying an exterior that suggested otherwise (popular-ish, captain of sports teams, straight A student), I had no idea what I was doing.
Frank never exploited my trust, never lied to me and never hurt me. I’m not sure if I can say that of any friend I’ve ever had. I only knew him for a year and a half, but he touched my life in ways that still affect me. He was an incredible person, an amazing soul.
Frank took his own life ten years ago today. With my vacation and work and friends and life, this awful anniversary somehow slipped from my mind, until a sweet friend called today to talk about her sad heart and reminded me of the calendar. I found myself driving home from a meeting, pulling in to my parking lot with tears running down my face, as we tried to talk through the bad stuff and remember the good. Trying to remember Frank’s laugh, his neverending support, how he was the first person to teach me how to correctly apply eyeliner and how he helped her through one of the worst years of her life. Remembering how the flyers that hung around our high school on the first anniversary of his death, and how the administration made us take them down because they said it supported suicide. Fucking assholes. I still have one of those flyers hanging up in my bedroom at my parents’ house, and I’ve found my mind constantly picturing it today.
I think of what my life has become, and what has become of the lives of so many of Frank’s friends, and my heart drops even more. What would he have been today? Who could he have been? He and his lovely, incredible girlfriend would still be together, I’m sure of that. They were what someone with a less cynical view of the world would have called soulmates. She is hurting today, I’m sure. Though all of our lives were changed by Frank and his death, hers was affected the most. I’m sending her peace and good vibes today.
I’m so sorry, Frank. I’m sorry I didn’t stay in better touch when you moved away. I’m sorry I wasn’t the same shoulder to lean on that you were for me. I’m sorry you didn’t think you had anywhere to turn. You’ve left an imprint on my life that won’t be diminished. I know you believed in some sort of afterlife, and I hope’s it’s as lovely as I have imagined.
Lovely Frank, I miss you.
This was posted by request and with permission from a few particular people who knew Frank best of all. If anyone has any problems with what was said, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your complaint. If you or anyone you know could be considering ending their own lives, please contact the National Hopeline Network at 1-800-SUICIDE or by clicking here.