Club 27

Matt and his Dad

I don’t have anything particularly political on my mind today. I mean I always have something political on my mind but today is different. This past week I made an off the cuff remark about Amy Winehouse joining the twenty-seven club. She committed suicide at the age of twenty seven like many other rock stars. I wouldn’t think much of it except for one thing…

My best friend’s son hung himself last night. His name was Matt. He was twenty seven. Good looking kid. And I have no words to describe how much it hurts me but you need to know one thing; you don’t want to be here. You don’t want to experience this kind of pain. You don’t want to be in his Dad’s shoes when he found out and you certainly don’t want to be in his Mother’s shoes when she found him hanging from the rafters.

Matt never had it easy but then none of the rest of us did either. We all grew up hard. We thought we had instilled that toughness into him. We all came from broken, dysfunctional environments but we survived. We fought back. We gave the world the giant finger and said ‘Fuck you!’, we’re going to live in spite of your bullshit. In fact, we’re going to survive out of defiance, you bastards!

Sure, me, Matt, and his Dad had the whole dude thing going on. We talked about cars, girls, dude shit; you know? But we never saw this coming. Maybe if we had been able to express our feelings more…who knows? My buddy called me immediately afterwards and began beating himself up with the usual questions. ‘What could I have done? What did I miss? How could I have handled it differently?’

My response? There wasn’t anything he could have done. I said, ‘He was twenty-seven. He was an adult. It was kind of out of your hands’. And I won’t pretend to understand Matt’s motives. I knew he was in a difficult marriage. I knew it was a quirky relationship. But, hell, Matt had plenty of examples of how to get out of quirky relationships from me and his Dad. That’s at least the one lesson we taught him well. I mean we were always ready to open a big can of whoop ass on some people but it never entered our minds to pull the ultimate ejector seat.

Was this a final ‘Fuck you’ to his wife? Maybe. Did she deserve it? Did the rest of us? No. Could we have done something to alleviate his pain? I wish I fuckin’ knew because God knows, I would have done it in spades.

When my friend called me to tell me about his son’s passing he expressed a lot of anger, resentment, sadness, and misplaced guilt. Anger because he ‘couldn’t kick Matt’s ass’. I felt the same way. I couldn’t tell Matt how much I loved him despite our dude relationship. We never bandied about the ‘L’ word much. It was just understood. I can’t tell him that the shit that goes down in relationships can be walked away from. My friend didn’t get to tell his son how much his absence would affect us all; his parents, his grandparents, his friends, his future children. Yes, I’m angry at Matt. But mostly, I miss him. Terribly. Agonizingly. I miss the things I’ll never be able to share with him. The things I took for granted that he would be around to experience.

Dammit, I can’t save him because I didn’t know it was necessary.

You may recall that I wrote an article on Matt’s newborn sister Abigail not long ago. The sister he’ll never get to know. But what you don’t know is the stuff we shared together with Matt. Chili nights at his Dad’s. Car stuff. Matt liked cars. He liked to race. I duped him into buying that 1968 hot-rod Chevy truck from me with the big-ass tires, headers, four on the floor speed shift. He thought he was getting a good deal; sucker. We talked about  all that girl stuff (which I can’t divulge due to dude rules…you understand). I knew this kid since the day he showed up on the planet. Heck, the biggest compliment to me was when he started showing signs of my influence. Just this past year he repeated an axiom I had stated back in high school. I didn’t even know the boy was paying attention. He was us. We had an influence on him and I was damned proud of him.

The first thing on my mind after hearing Matt had taken his life was to call my daughter and make sure she was okay. To assure her that she could tell me anything. Frankly, I think everyone should call the people they love and make sure they know it. Right now. Cause I didn’t see this coming. And I’d give anything to have that opportunity back. It’s been said that suicide is a permanent solution for temporary problems. Get that across to people you care about immediately. Don’t wait. Let them know Club 27 is not something you aspire to be in. Because that’s a membership from which you can’t resign.

Most people know I am agnostic. But I would remind you of this from the Gospel of Matthew:

Matthew 6:9-13: “This, then, is how you should pray: ‘Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the power and the glory forever. Amen.”

Thanks for letting me share this with you.

About Mr. Universe

Mr. Universe is a musician/songwriter and an ex-patriot of the south. He currently lives and teaches at a University in the Pacific Northwest. He is a long distance hiker who has hiked the Appalachian Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail. He is also an author and woodworker. An outspoken political voice, he takes a decidedly liberal stance in politics.
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