Forget about nice. Be kind.

Sometimes people leave this world rather unexpectedly. One day they’re there – reminding you that you really need to purge your friends list – and the next day…and then it sinks in that you won’t ever see them from this side of the screen again.

I heard the news of Nate’s passing through text message, my first pumpkin spice latte of the season still untouched. I shakily scrolled through his grieving friends’ Facebook posts wondering, hoping, praying this was some kind of sick joke. Please, God, let it be some kind of sick joke

Death is always tragic; the feeling of tragedy intensified when they were too young, when it was so sudden, when they took their own life. It’s all wrong. But something like a shockwave ran through me this time. Maybe it’s different when it happens to someone you knew.

He was 25. But I can still see him as the endearingly awkward Willard in our high school production of Footloose. We drifted apart after he moved to Hawaii halfway through our junior year. Nate never set foot on a stage again (I suspected his short-lived acting career was more his sister’s doing), but he developed an eye for photography and adored the water. Last I heard, he was making a name for himself as an underwater photographer. There was so much more he was supposed to do.

Nate was bright. He had a careless smile that won everyone over. That smile hid years of hurt – something we realized much too late.

It’s been a little over a month since he passed. The posts to his Facebook page have slowed down. I have to remind myself to pray for him more often.

There’s this cliche that goes, “Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind.” Never has it been truer. According to statistics, suicide is the second-leading cause of death for ages 10-24 and the tenth-leading cause of death in U.S. We can be so vicious in our judgments, so apathetic to others’ inner demons that we forget there’s a precious human being in front of us (or on the other side of the screen).

It’s time to change those statistics.

 

 

 

 

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