At 3:09 pm last Friday, Paul Carlile texted me. “I’m in PDX,” he wrote. “Are you available before 7.”
“Sorry. No,” I replied at 5:14. I had plans. I was taking pizza to Andrew Cronk and the kids, and then driving to the airport to pick up Kris.
Had I known then what I know now, I would have changed my plans completely. I would have let the Cronks go hungry. I would have left Kris standing at the curb.
Susan, Paul’s long-time girlfriend, just called. Though they’d recently broken up, they were still close. “J.D., this is Susan,” she said, and my brain had to whir — Susan who? “I’m sorry to have to tell you this,” she said, and then I realized it was Susan S., of course, who else? “But Paul killed himself last night.”
“What?” I said. Was she joking? Through her tears, Susan told me what she knew. Paul had been depressed for a long time. A mutual friend had spent the weekend with him, trying to help him come to grips. When she left, she thought Paul was on stable ground. He wasn’t.
I feel hollow. I didn’t see Paul often anymore — just a few times each year — but he was an important piece of me, a piece that is now lost. I have several paragraphs of memories typed here in my text editor, but I’m not in the mood to share them. It’s as if I want to keep them to myself, to hoard them.
Suffice it to say that I would not be who I am today without Paul. I cannot believe he’s gone.
Here’s a song Paul introduced me to:
It seems painfully appropriate for this occasion.
Update: More memories of Paul.