There are 10 major bridges in Portland’s city center and my best friend of almost 20 years jumped from one of them and died. This was nearly a decade ago and he actually chose a bridge that isn’t one of the big 10, it was instead, the Vista Avenue Viaduct. A beautiful, narrow, Gothic arch bridge a hundred feet high and nearly a hundred years old. A bridge that crosses over nothing but pavement. Smart, I suppose, water isn’t nearly as fail-safe as a two lane street and some train tracks. Not so smart or charming was the fact that hundreds of people before him had chosen that very Vista Bridge to “catch the bus”. So many, in fact, that it’s been called Suicide Bridge ever since I can remember. He leapt from it in 2001 and since then, never has a day passed where I haven’t both cursed him and shared a laugh with him.
Recently, another good friend of mine and a man whom I shall always consider one of the funniest people I’ve every known hurled himself off the second tallest bridge in town and left behind 2 exceptional young children and scores of people who adored him though probably never saw it coming. The river below is fast and cold, not unlike how the world can be, and sometimes dying takes just as much determination as it does to continue getting out of bed each day.
Suicides are sometimes planned for years, always a quiet nagging, that little escape route waiting to be played like the perfect card you never want to mention, When every day grows unbearably heavier than the day before, when all the bottled pain and swallowed frustration finally becomes a fight that can’t be won, where no solution exists other than taking the path of god. I can only hope that every person who ever took their own life finally found some of the peace they were seeking. When someone says committing suicide is selfish I want to punch them in the neck. There are few things more selfish than denigrating someone who obviously had a hell of a lot more pain and darkness in their soul than someone blithely passing judgment would even begin to understand. Each spirit varies in thresholds; some of us just break at different points than others. Tragically unfortunate for those left behind, I resoundingly agree and the weeping and guilt comes in sudden and furious bursts to remind me of that. Stupid, yes, selfish, no.
Every time you make and break a date, a meeting, a drink, a dinner or any other occasion to meet with those you admire, enjoy and love, you’re risking never being able to share laughter with them again. Make the time to spend with these special people because those experiences may be all that we take with us when we die.
Go Golden Eagles. That will be explained later.