bia, the half-way point for dropping off and picking up our children on his weekends. Hypnotized by the blinding discs of the oncoming headlights, it suddenly occurred to me that a simple turn of my wrist could find the steering wheel, and consequently my van, headed into traffic and preferably into an oncoming eighteen-wheeler. That’s how I would do it, if I were a doer. My cousin Drew did it. It was the late 1970s and I was in middle school. Drew lived in another state, so we weren’t terribly close. He was older than me, in high school. At the time, everyone referred to it as “Drew’s accident.” His mother, my aunt, found him in their basement. Later, when I was older, I had a revelation. What I discovered was that Drew was a gay teenager attending a Catholic School in a very small, conservative Pennsylvania town where his parents were born and raised. My aunt still refers to it as “Drew’s accident.” I suppose she will never truly be able to reconcile her son’s actions. The last time I thought about it was probably yesterday. It doesn’t matter when you are reading this; I can pretty much guarantee that I thought about it at least once yesterday. It may be because I had a tough day or maybe I have come upon an interesting new method. For example within the past few days I considered the logics of being electrocuted while in a bathtub full of water. I concluded that most certainly in order to be thorough I would want to pull in several electrical appliances simultaneously. Additionally, I decided it would be very important that I be fully clothed. There is no rhyme or reason to when or why I think about it. Sometimes I will find myself at such a low point that it seems to be the only relief available and I can spend hours trying to rationalize doing it. There are also those rare, special oc-
12 Spring 2014
casions when I can be going about my day and suddenly an idea, like the day when I realized that I could legally purchase a hand gun, will occur to me out of nowhere. A friend of mine, his name was Troy, he did it. It’s been almost seven years. I still get chills every time I drive by the apartment complex where they found him. Unlike my cousin Drew or my parent’s friend, Frank, I had felt Troy’s breath on my cheek two days before his ex-wife found him. We were both going through painful divorces. Deanna, a mutual friend had introduced us. I suppose she was tired of listening to our sad stories and thought we could both use someone to commiserate with. He smelled of beer and cigarettes when I answered the door, but I could tell that clearly he needed a friend. Two days later Deanna called to tell me what Troy had done. I was left standing there holding my unanswerable questions like a sad, empty trick-or-treat bag on November 1st. I often wonder if they ever made Troy sign the Safety Contract. Everyday I straddle that fence. As I walk across the tree lined campus or through the busy aisles of the grocery store I look into the eyes of the strangers. I wonder how many others straddle the fence. I am pretty sure I would never jump off of the fence into my mirage of greener pastures. Still, l wait for that elusive push. Sometimes I envy the doers. I want to know what went through their minds in that last moment. Is it desperation or resolution that describes what a person is feeling when they just decide that they have had enough? I have read that the friends and family of people that have done it report that the person seemed happier, almost at peace. That seems about right. For now I resolve myself to enjoy the view from up here on this fence. So far, so good.