Darryl hooted and I rushed out the house and got into his car. I was wearing smart black pants and a dull red-striped button shirt. I don’t remember what he was wearing. I don’t remember how his face looked or what he said to me or what I said to him. I was only pretending to be there. Pretending to care that Cliffy was dead.
I do remember the dullness and denseness of the colours around me. The trees that lined the streets on the way to the cemetery. The dullness of the cemetery itself. I remember nothing of the eulogy or whether people cried aloud or how long the funeral took. I do remember his squad from the police force doing a tribute, and I remember that one of them looked anemic, almost like Cliffy would have looked without the muscles.
I had felt nothing when my mom had told me Cliffy’d committed suicide. I was too deep in my own depression. The fact that a person who was once my best friend had gone through the same and had not made it was too dull to break through the wall of terrible numbness.
I had loved Cliffy once. We had all loved each other back then and had vocalised it regularly. But after school, we took very different paths and I hardly ever saw him again. I’d always thought we would reconnect one day, but that did not matter to me on the day of his funeral. All that mattered was that I was stuck at a fucking funeral and just wanted to get home so I could lie in a fetal position on my bed.
The episode had started about a week earlier.
I was at my old alma mater for shabbat. Yeshiva Gedola, where I had spent many of my happiest days. It could not lift me. Instead, it left me feeling trapped, unable to leave until nightfall on Saturday.
On Friday morning I had written a poem:
Give in to me
I’ll have you mine
I’ll have your breasts
I’ll have your fine
stomach, long hair,
sweet lips, pussy
In which to stick
You have no self
and nor do I
You are my tart
and I your pie
of timeless time
You are my soul
I’d named it Procrasturbation. I had not known what what was yet to come. But I had felt intensely negative and I had known I was not doing well. Hence, that awful poem.
The problem was that I’d thought the pit was the right place for me. It had seemed to absolve me of responsibility for knowing what to do with my life. It had seemed like a good thing until it absolutely broke me.
On that Friday night, trapped in the confines of a religious institution, I cracked. Major depression took me for only the second time in my life. I did not know how to manage each second. I tried playing around on my phone, even though it was the sabbath. I tried calling a friend, even though he was probably observing the sabbath. I hid the phone in my pocket when around some of the others, but I knew they probably saw it. I couldn’t care less.
I couldn’t care about anything.
When I look back on it, Cliffy’s funeral epitomises that particular episode. I had once loved him, and to this day, I feel immense fondness for him. And I feel guilty for not being there for him. And guilty for not being able to care when he died or properly say goodbye.
I never mourned for him, and maybe that’s why I still think of calling him sometimes. I’ve never fully come to terms with what happened to him. I will always feel that guilt.
It’s the most visceral example I can come up with when trying to describe what depression can do, aside from suicide.
It can make you dead, inside what looks like a living human body. It can make the best times seem like the worst times. It can make lying in a fetal position seem as moving as your best friend’s funeral.
Along with death, it is the great equaliser. Because it’s its own type of death. To paraphrase my awful poem, it is the detritus of le petit mort of the soul.