I learned just yesterday that one of my college housemates died last year. I remember “Richard” as an outgoing young anthropology major, with plenty of friends, and interesting stories of life among the Mbuti pygmies. A mutual friend and fellow housemate told me yesterday that he had died.
I Googled his name (with appropriate accompanying words to distinguish him from all the other men with the same name), and found his obituary, and some other things that people had written, before and after his death. There I found hints at what looked like an upper middle class childhood, note duly made of Richard’s Stanford degree, two books that he had written (I’m impressed, as I have written zero books, unless you count the novel in a drawer and the screenplay in a drawer), and stories of his woodsman skills and the meals he cooked for his friends.
I could see, perhaps, a few things lacking: the obituary listed no spouse or lover or children to mourn him, only parents and siblings and nephews and nieces. And one brother had died before him (ten years before him, of a heart attack, I found in another obituary helpfully supplied by Google). An article from a couple of years ago said that his small business was struggling a bit.
But nothing in these bits and pieces, or in my memories, prepared me for the closing paragraph of the warmest blog post of memories.
One summer day last year, Richard hung himself.