There is something special about that childhood friend. It’s a bond that lasts a lifetime, something we can only experience fully in our formative years. My friend was Richard. We were inseparable in school growing up, then roommates in college, growing into manhood together. When it came time for medical school, I went to Dallas, and Richard to Houston, where he would start his career. We drifted apart in those pre-cell phone years, each in a different world, each of those worlds with its own all-encompassing gravitational pull. I knew he had been depressed at times as far back as high school, but he always seemed to snap out of it. We took a vacation together on a break that last summer, and he just wasn’t his old self. I couldn’t quite put my finger on what had changed, but he was different. Our minds and energy were so preoccupied in that pivotal time as our careers were forming.
A few months later, I got the call one evening from a mutual friend in Houston that he had taken his life. As I tried unsuccessfully to piece it all together in the days and years that followed, there were fragmented stories of those last weeks, none fitting together. To this day, I have no idea if he made any attempt to get help or if anyone tried to help him.