It’s been a rough week. If we’re being honest, it’s been a rough couple of months. At the beginning of this, all of us just hoped that we wouldn’t get the Coronavirus, that our families would stay safe, that we could hole up at home, keep our heads down and eventually come out of this thing. What we didn’t take into consideration was how self-isolation would affect the very people it was supposed to be helping, and that it wouldn’t be the virus that was a person’s undoing.
On Wednesday, April 15th, my friend Jeff killed himself. He had been struggling for a while due to his impending divorce, and as he was classified an essential worker (he worked for the city of Mississauga) his ex didn’t want him around his two kids. They’d sold the house they lived in for a decade and they were both living in separate apartments, miles away from each other. He was driving around with open containers, gambling with life, not knowing or seeing a way out of his current status until finally he just gave up.
I had been Jeff’s friend for 25 years. He was in my very first English class when I moved to Canada, a sweet, dorky kid with coke bottle glasses, detachable teeth and a wicked sense of humor. He was incredibly loyal and our boys were inseparable when they all came together in 11th grade. He was the surrogate older brother, the one who could be trusted to play good hip hop and dance with me at weddings. He made me feel safe every time he gave me a hug. His absence leaves a huge intense void and the devastation comes in waves.
On Friday, my friends hosted an impromptu memorial for him, a dark reminder of these times, where seven people were sitting on lawn chairs in the backyard, six feet apart in the Canadian cold, not really saying much. I was brought in through video chat so I could be a part of it but it was hard to hear and every person there was dealing with their own feelings. A funeral that can’t be held, a life that can’t be celebrated, a life that shouldn’t have been cut as short as it did in the first place.
My plea to you is this – check in with all of your loved ones. Text so much you annoy them. Get them on video chat, make each other laugh, give everyone a sense of belonging. If you feel like people are faltering and need to talk to a professional, help them make that happen because it could be the difference between life and death to some. Love so fiercely your heart hurts. RIP Jeff “Pink” Pinkerton. We love you so much and miss you more than you will ever know.
If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), text “STRENGTH” to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 or go to suicidepreventionlifeline.org.