I lost a friend today.
Admittedly, he was a friend whose path crossed mine only infrequently these days, but he was a friend nonetheless. He was a young man of remarkable talent and infinite promise, seemingly always with a smile on his face. That smile will be eternal.
And yet he is gone, apparently, unbelievably, by his own hand. The word that usually is invoked in situations like this is "senseless." And with good reason -- it is a description that is quite literally true. There is no sense to this, no way to make sense of it, no way for those left behind to comprehend what could drive someone to that point, to make that final decision without reaching out to any of the countless people who would have moved heaven and earth to lead him to a different outcome.
Yet it is our nature to try to make sense of everything, to understand what happens around us, to assign some rational, coherent motive to the world. So we struggle to make sense of the senseless -- even though we know deep down we are doomed to fail. And that leaves us with a host of other emotions.
A deep abiding sadness at the loss of such unrealized potential.
A thankfulness for the gifts that were shared with us much too briefly.
Terror that the young people who looked to him as a role model might be tempted to again emulate his example.
And anger. Let's not kid ourselves -- we feel anger at the ultimate selfish act, one that transfers his pain to all of the rest of us, magnifies it and makes it permanent.
I've been through this before -- a beloved cousin who took his own life because he couldn't figure out how to heal a broken heart. A mayor who was haunted by demons that may never show their face. And now a young artist who seemed to tap into deep emotions in his audiences, but who apparently couldn't get a handle on his own.
We'll look for answers, but we won't find them. We never do in cases like this. The best we can hope for is to let it serve as a reminder of the value of each day, and of the opportunity that awaits us in a future that we cannot see or know -- that tomorrow can be, indeed must be, better than today.