Facebook memory notifications can be a wonderful thing. Bringing back to your attention the fun and silly posts and conversations had in years past can make you smile.
But then, sometimes, something not so happy is brought to your attention. Sometimes it’s not even the post itself, but an additional memory brought to the forefront of your mind triggered by that post.
This morning I flicked through my memories and came across one where I was joking about how Karma had bitch-slapped me that day. I had tagged a couple of friends that I had laughed at the evening prior – they were nurses that I carpooled with to work, but they still worked on the Surgical Step-Down unit and I had moved on to the Children’s Hospital.
I laughed at them every weekend as they bitched about whatever craziness had happened on their recent shifts and I told them this particular night that I was ever increasingly glad that I no longer worked on that unit with them and how much more chill it was to work with kids. I may or may not have thrown in a “nanny-nanny-poo-poo!” Haha.
Well, naturally, Karma thought that was pretty rude of me (Hey, Karma! I meant it in jest – they knew that!) So that nightshift I had a ridiculous crazy shift with a patient that was out of hand and a little off his rocker (very similar circumstances to what was common on Surgical.)
On the way home that morning, they both had the chance to point and laugh back at me. I posted on Facebook, as you do, about this particular bitch-slap and how I would never tease them again.
Another Nurse, Rich, responded nastily and offended about what I said; he did not realize my intent of jest and self-deprecating humour. I responded to explain and tried to smooth it over. He begrudgingly apologized and one of the tagged nurses responded with a laugh-at-my-pain type of comment.
This morning, however; the conversation looks off. I’m talking to myself because Rich isn’t there.
Rich is dead and his Facebook is gone… his comments erased from my timeline.
Less than a year after this conversation happened, and Rich was gone.
I can’t say that Rich and I were especially good friends – we didn’t do anything outside of work together – but we got on well. Apparently this was unusual given the fact that I was a CNA at the time and he and the other CNAs tended to not get on. We had a mutual respect and he would show me things he thought I’d like to learn. We joked together, we even smoked together sometimes.
I had heard that Rich had some form of mental illness… I really don’t know what it entailed because I chose not to enquire further. I didn’t want to pry.
I hadn’t talked to him much, if at all, in those last months. I didn’t work with him anymore since I was in Paeds… I wish I had made an effort to reach out to him. I doubt it would have made a real difference. We weren’t real close in the first place… but maybe. Who knows, really what would help in any given situation… but maybe it’s just me being selfish. Maybe it’s just me that would have liked more closure.
In May 2012 I got a message from an old co-worker asking me if I knew what happened to Rich. She thought I might have insider information. All she knew was that he was dead. I was taken aback and I asked her when it had happened. She told me it was apparently earlier that week. I told her I’d get back to her after I asked someone else.
I was told (and of course this is all second hand at this point – so if anyone that knew him better sees this and the info is wrong – I’m sorry.) that Rich had committed suicide. Some of his depression and behaviours were not entirely hidden from me, so the mechanism of death was not a shock per se… I was told he jumped off a bridge to the highway below.
Rich was a veteran. Rich was a damn good nurse. Rich… I wish I could have been a better friend to you, I really do. May not have helped in the end… Likely would not have helped in the end… but if I had recognized the need I would have at least tried.
Goddammit Rich – it pains me to say this… but I miss you, bud.
**Images poached with permission from In Memory of Rich Gillespie**