Part 5: Communication or Lack Thereof

Men don’t talk about their problems. It’s just not something we’re programmed to do. At least I don’t. If I have an issue or a problem, I deal with it alone until I find a solution. Its not always the smartest thing, but I feel as a man, it’s on me to fix whatever it is that’s troubling me. I also grew up in a neighborhood where it’s normal to mind your business. So even if I saw a person struggling, if I saw a person sad or down, I was almost programmed to think that it’s their problem, not mine. I shouldn’t ask questions, I shouldn’t dig into someone else’s private life or affairs. I shouldn’t worry about anyone that’s not me or my family. But after all this…after all that’s happened to my best friend. Fuck all that. If I see a person who may look like they need help nowadays, I’m EXTREMELY nosy! “What’s wrong?”, “Are you ok?”, and, “Is there anything I can do to help?” are now phrases that are tattooed on my brain. Because if I used them before, Jaquan would probably be in a better place mentally now.

Jaquan had tried to kill himself in 2007. At 21 years old he had came to the conclusion that life was no longer worth living and that he didn’t want to be here anymore. After the failed attempt, he was placed into a psychiatric ward. The news from his sister made me suddenly realize one thing: I am a terrible friend. This was all my fault. I had moved on and left my best friend behind to deal with all the death and pain in his life alone. With no one to talk to, with no one to be there for him who understood what he was going through, or to at least try to understand, he wanted to die. I felt sad, and hopeless, and helpless. I had forgotten him. I left him, like everyone else…

In 2007, I was in school and in love. (HP has informed me that I have named enough girlfriends in these blogs so I’ll just leave it at that). At the time, my life had been going exactly the way I had wanted it to. My only problems were keeping my grades up, paying for my books, and choosing between Applebee’s and Juniors for dinner being that I attended LIU (Long Island University) in Brooklyn. That’s right, I was only in Brooklyn. My best friend was a 40 minute train ride away in the Bronx and I acted as if he was on the other side of the country. I had let years pass by without so much as a call or a text. If I had just called him, or just texted him every now and then, communicated some how, I probably could’ve prevented this from happening.

I got the number of the hospital Jaquan was in from his sister. Our first conversation in years felt as if we had just spoken yesterday. We talked everything from football to wrestling, to girls in high school and video games. An hour on the phone felt like minutes. I promised to come see him when I could. To hear him laugh and joke, it made me feel like everything would be ok, that Jaquan would be ok. It made me realize that I needed to be a better friend if I wanted to make sure this never happened again. Eventually Jaquan was released from the hospital. And as more time passed, I made attempts to hang out with him whenever I could. Things between us weren’t what they use to be, but they were good. Then he moved to Florida. To be honest, I was happy for him! He had found a job, had his own place, he was living his life, doing his own thing. We would talk over the phone, check in on each other from time to time. things were good.

In 2015,  I was living in an apartment of my own with my current (and last) girlfriend, HP. One night I got a phone call from Jaquan. His sister had just died. Obviously he was broken up. He sounded so distraught over the phone but being so far away there was nothing I could do. Abruptly, Jaquan hung up the phone. I tried to call back but no answer. All week I called and called and still didn’t get an answer. I figured he’d call me when he could, but when I didn’t hear from him for a month, I tried to call again. The number no longer worked. I tried to use Facebook to contact him but he rarely if ever posted, so it was no surprise that I didn’t get a response on there either. Eventually, a family member of Jaquan’s informed me on Facebook that he had lost his apartment and his job in Florida and had actually moved back to New York. I gave them my number to give to him. A year went by and nothing. Two years, still no Jaquan.

In 2018, I had received a phone call out of the blue, it was Jaquan. He told me he was staying with family in the city and working security. I was so happy to finally here from him. I made it a point to meet up with him! We hung out the entire day, got food, joked about high school and things in the past. He seemed to be doing so fine and everything just felt so normal. But then, after that normal day, he disappeared. I found myself trying to get in touch with him again and again for the rest of the year. His phone didn’t work, his facebook was useless, his family didn’t know where he was. It wasn’t until three weeks ago, January of 2019, after asking everyone I could on Facebook about my friend, my best friend, a cousin of Jaquan told me that he again had tried to kill himself. It took me awhile, but eventually I tracked him down. He had been placed in a psychiatric ward in the Bronx. I called him everyday in that place. I did my best to keep his spirits up but I could tell he was down and a different person. The psychiatric ward released him earlier than he had expected so I sent him some money to come see me. I didn’t expect him to use the money to actually get on a bus to come visit, but he did.

This was it, the conversation that needed to happen. I needed to know things and he had the answers. The next and final part of this six part blog will not be in writing. It is video of Jaquan explaining to me why my best friend wanted to kill himself…

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