Thursday, July 22, 2010

Gone too Soon

This past weekend, someone I used to train with committed suicide. I hadn't seen or talked to him for the past 6 years but a mutual friend found me on Facebook and gave me the news. It's hard to define how I feel right now. I have lost several friends and relatives but never by suicide.

Rick and I were never really friends but we did spend a lot of time together. We trained together in karate for 4 years but we were more acquaintances than anything else. I always found him arrogant and was intimidated by his bravado. He was one of those macho guys who seemed to take pleasure in causing other people pain and embarrassing them. I imagined he kissed his biceps every morning when he looked in the mirror.

Like a lot of people who study martial arts (myself included) I'm sure Rick was driven by something in his past. Physical or sexual abuse? Shyness? Fitness? Self Esteem? Trying to cope with anger/loss? Hyperactivity? These are all reasons that people I know have given for studying martial arts. The decision seems to always stem from a decision to take control of your life and cope with or escape from your past.

Rick was a very accomplished martial artist, achieving a black belt in three different styles and gaining some notoriety on the amatur mixed martial arts circuit. He married his high school sweetheart and had a good job. He seemed to have it all together but obviously he had demons that none of us knew about.

I am surprised by how much I am thinking about him and reminiscing about the time we spent together. I keep going to his wedding website and old karate pictures where he is smiling and happy. I analyze episodes from our past together for clues of his depression and honestly I can find several but that always happens in hind sight. I know I wouldn't have been someone that he confided in. I doubt he was secure enough to show that side to anyone. I wonder if years of putting on a front and acting like nothing bothered him was too much for him. I wish someone could have stopped this.

It's so strange that I want to reach out to his family. I'm sure he never mentioned me. I had never mentioned him to anyone outside of karate before this happened. I probably wouldn't have ever thought of him again if he were still alive. But there is something about losing someone in this way that makes you appreciate that person's life more. It erases all the negative thoughts that used to come to mind when I thought of him. All I can think about is Rick, a misunderstood 32 year old man who couldn't beat his demons and a brilliant life over way too soon.

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