in the summer of 87, a guy--allan--that i'd grown up with in youth group and had dated for about a year when we were in hs, called and asked me to come over to his house for lunch. i'd only been home from college for a couple weeks and he'd graduated from hs about a month earlier (at the time, i was 19, allan was 18, but he was two years behind me in school.) we made sandwiches, went and picked up his little sister from cheer practice and just hung out. we watched st. elmo's fire and chatted, catching up on life. it was cool that we were still friends even after one of those drama-filled high school break-ups. we had fun that afternoon and laughed a lot. late the next afternoon, i stopped by the church and the youth pastor asked if he could talk to me. allan had committed suicide earlier that day. it didn't seem real--it'd been less than 24 hours since i'd seen him. to this day, it's still one of the saddest moments and memories of my life.
allan didn't leave a note and in the days and weeks after, there was so much confusion. i think i watched about st. elmo's fire about a hundred times looking for a clue. allan's parents were so great considering their loss. his mom especially tried to make sure i knew it wasn't my fault and that there was nothing i could have done. i did understand it wasn't my fault, but i think on some level i'll always wonder if there was something i could've done, something i could've noticed so that maybe allan would still be here.
the past few days i've been working on references to resources that we'll put in the notebook for this year's CORE training that youth specialties, the company i work for, hosts for youth workers. this year the topic is "helping hurting kids". among the topics that'll be covered during the day are suicide and depression. but it wasn't until this morning, it finally dawned on me why i felt so emotionally involved in this material. allan. in 1987, depression among teenagers wasn't exactly a big topic. fortunately, now there's resources and training on all kinds of crises that kids encounter.
in being part of a company that offers training and resources to help youth workers help kids who might be having the same struggles allan had, i'm finding a little more healing for the sadness i still carry over his death.