Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Riding motorcycles is the best medicine

I once heard that suicide is a preventable disease, I wish it were true, and that I could go back in time and use that information to save a life, because one was taken from me this year, and my whole world changed as I fell into an abyss of darkness.

It was someone who meant an a lot to me, a childhood sweetheart, and she took her own life.
The darkness that ensued was all consuming, and partly why I have not written you in a long time. I had to work out what it meant somehow.

Almost two full months later I still don’t know, but another good friend recommend that I try to write about it, maybe it will help excise those demons he said. But like the loss of my parents, both within two weeks of each other five years ago almost to the day, I just have to learn how to carry it around with me in a (metaphorical) suit case and keep on going.

At first that suitcase was fucking huge and such a burden that I could barely face anyone, even my partner, just looking at him would lead to a flood of tears while I searched for my sanity, trying desperately to cling onto some form of joy, trying to carry on knowing she was gone forever.

That time five years ago was horrible, so horrible I don’t really know how to explain it; within two weeks I had become an orphan. What could I possibly say about that? They were old, lived rich full lives, and Cancer/Heart Diseases are shitty, awful things.

I even worked through the loss of my parents with another very talented friend who made this stunning stop-motion claymation film about 'Good Grief', in an attempt to move through it in a positive way.


This time someone dear to me had taken her own life and I am angry at her because the fallout, the trail of misery, the absolute destruction of love it has left behind is incredible. Every day my friends look in the mirror and ask why, as do I.

People I love are utterly beside themselves. I can barely keep it together to write this, the sadness is overwhelming.

Yet there are no answers, even trying to rationalise the seven stages of grief doesn’t work, because there were no signs of any distress. Just weeks before we were giggling like the school kids we grew up as all those years ago, writing ridiculous messages to one another on FB like the idiots we always acted out like, together. Together. Us. Both of us. Now she is gone with such finality and suddenness it is indescribable.

Over the past months my heart slowly came out of that suitcase and worked its way back into my chest, but it is different now. It will never be the same again knowing that she made the decision to end her life.

The suitcase is shrinking with time, as it did with my parents, and now I can manage to walk with it like a normal person going to catch a bus somewhere, but sometimes it fills up with bricks and the pain in so real I have to withdraw from everything and everybody, just be with my thoughts and listen to some music. Music has helped me through this, of that I am sure. Another dear, dear friend who I have known since I was 13 years old says the same thing, we write each other, we send SMS' of support and talk about new songs we are listening to, songs that remind us of her. Songs that give us hope, make us feel happier, songs that make us sad again.

Music is like that. I don’t know what I would do without it.

But riding is the best medicine of all, and while I travelled the 750kms (466 miles) back to Adelaide, South Australia for her funeral, I listened to a lot of David Bowie, one of my all time favourite artists, who also recently left Earth for good. I listened to his old music and then his new album 'Black Star' which incredibly, he constructed, wrote, recorded and released just before he died. One of the first lyrics in Lazarus starts out ‘Look up here, I'm in heaven’. Potent stuff.



I cried a lot during those 750kms, crying and riding, signing Bowie to myself and trying to focus on not crashing, a challenge true enough, but doable. I had also just done 2,400kms on our annual Australia Day Ride which is usually one of my favourite times of the year, but when we kicked off it was only one day after her suicide; I debated long and hard, sobbing endlessly, torturing myself about whether or not to cancel the ride and go back to SA, yet all of those friends closest to me convinced me I should go, just make sure I was back for the funeral.

All up I covered some 4,500kms (2,796 miles) in those eight days, all of which I feel like I spent trying to understand what had happened, but found no answers, no solace. Just a darkness that I have to constantly try to push down back into the suitcase of despair.

I put that briefcase in my top box every day when it would fit, sometimes I felt like all of my luggage was full of it, but I kept going, kept trying to work out why, but no answers came and all I could do was keep riding and try to hold back the tears.

There are no answers in suicide, and there can never be.

I don’t know how to end this post on a good note, and I am not sure it has been that cathartic, I appreciate you reading it and maybe, just maybe, you can share it around to let others know that suicide should never be the answer.

There is help available, and if some of the smartest people on Earth believe it is a preventable disease, then help can be found. If I haven’t been myself, this is the reason why. I’ll be back to my usual self next time we speak I promise, albeit carrying some baggage. I do have some great stories to tell about gear and such, but this had to come first, like a chapter in my book of life.

R.I.P my dear friend, I miss you more than words. I hope you have found peace.

*Out of respect for the family in this tragic circumstance I have withheld her name.

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