When I came home from work, my friend Bobby had called me and said in a uncertain tone, "Have you heard the news?.. You might want to sit down for this.. We were just on tour with him.. How can this have happened?". While I was hearing the words coming out of his mouth, my mind remained unconvinced. The words were somehow not finding their way to me until finally after the conversations ended.
I called up my other friends hoping that this was just a sick joke. I needed confirmation that this hadn't really happened, that it was all just something my mind had made up. But alas, after being on the phone with friends for an hour or so, the reality had set in and I just sat there, broken. I sat there at the kitchen table and the grief came flooding over me like a raging stream. One of my friends, had committed suicide.
I met Luke on a gig that I was organising. I needed a guitarist who could play jazz guitar for a few hours and a friend had recommended him to me so on his endorsement, I booked him. Luke was not only an amazing musician but a really likeable character and I had great time with him. We became friends instantly. We talked about music, life, the desire to grow musically and everything in between whilst stuffing ourselves with good food and good wine. When I moved out of home and into the city to start doing gigs, he introduced me people in the music community and those initial connections got me working as a musician. He hooked me up with a bunch of guys at a bar that ran a Motown night on Mondays and asked me to take his place while he went on tour with a band for a year or so. That one act of kindness propelled me into new opportunities and friendships. He was that kind of person. Very generous and easy to get along with as well as a really fun loving guy.
It has been a year since Luke’s suicide and the memory of him still lingers. Last week while at work I remembered him and the loss crashed over me. I sat at my computer with my hands shaking uncontrollably and unable to move whilst not wanting to let anyone know. I slipped out, sat outside and cried uncontrollably for an uncomfortable amount of time and allowed myself the time to not hold back tears and emotions. I lay there with my hands over my head and allowed myself the full experience of grief.
As I have grown older, I have allowed myself the emotional space to be vulnerable. As Alain de Botton once said, “Adult life isn't possible without moments when, with reason being ineffective, all we can do is regress”. I often remind myself not to forget about my own humanity and fragility whilst trying to be an adult in a uncertain world. Allowing myself to feel the entirety of the grief allowed me time to address the feeling of my own hopelessness and the sorrow that the loss of his life has had on me and to then accept that reality, pay my respects to it and continue to live on after the sadness subsides.
Loss and grief can hit you when you least expect it. It is never the right time to address it, but it is nevertheless part of the cyclical emotional nature of humans and ultimately a roaring wave that we must let wash over us in order to be able to rise up once again.