I can remember the night as clear as day. I had just gotten home from practice and was about to start plugging away at my homework when I got the phone call. I looked down at my phone screen and it was him — one of my best friends. Knowing all he had been going through at the time, I answered quickly, and before I could say "Hello" I could tell something wasn’t right. I said, “Hey! How was your day today? Any better than yesterday?” Though I already knew the answer, I was hoping there would be some positive to it, but there wasn’t.
Nate was an incredible friend, more than what others gave him credit for — until it was too late. Our friendship started in middle school when I played cupid and set him up with one of my close buddies. They were so cute together they didn’t even know it, it had to be done. He began sitting at a lunch table full of girls, just to get to know my best friend. After a while he started sitting with us every day. He would make every one of us laugh by bringing up the weirdest and most random thoughts that would come to his mind. Lunch time was the best parts to our days.
Nate and I grew distant when he started dating an old friend, but she and I grew distant, too. It was the honeymoon stage that no new couple can deny — it’s a real thing. My mornings spent with her began to be spent with other friends as they stood at the lockers together before homeroom and gazed into one another's eyes. It was more than just puppy love. Jealousy began to kick in, and I found Nate and I fighting for the attention of the same girl. We began butting heads at the lunch table and getting so into it that we couldn’t help but laugh at ourselves and how silly we were being - sometimes it took longer to laugh than most.
Like most middle school relationships, this one came to an end. Nate stopped eating lunch with the girls and went back to table hopping or eating with other friends. It was different. The following year we went on to high school. As usual, the frosh got picked on, but Nate and I stuck together. We had different classes, but the ones we had together were always a blast. The teachers always had to re-arrange the seating charts so we were not even on the same side of the room. We always got caught passing notes, doodling on each others papers or making comments when we thought something the teacher said was funny.
Our years of high school were on and off, but I will never forget the snow day we had in my backyard with my two sisters. An unexpected day for sure, but it was well worth it. From building the ugliest snowman and dressing it up in random winter apparel, to having the funniest snowball fight that left snow in our ears, to going inside and finding a winter movie while we made hot chocolate. Nate was always down to do anything no matter how girly the details entailed. Make no mistake, we made him watch a sappy girl movie. I’ll never forget when his brother came to pick him up that day. Nate didn’t bring snow pants so by the time we got inside he needed to put his jeans in the dryer.
When his brother picked him up, we all stood around the kitchen watching him struggle to put his jeans on over his athletic shorts. Nate looked around, noticing all of us had been watching him struggle, and said, “Well this is awkward” and his brother’s instant response was “I’m not the one with my pants off bro.” We all chuckled. Nate managed to make anyone laugh by just being him. The following year, Nate came to me more frequently than usual. We began meeting up before classes on the days his girlfriend at the time was running late and would sit on the radiators outside the gym and just talk about anything.
It was obvious Nate really needed those talks, and I loved being able to give him any and all of the advice that I had in me. Though he confided in others also, it was nice knowing someone trusted me enough to open up to me and ask me for help. Nate always knew I was there for him, and looking back now, I don’t doubt that is why he called me that night.
When I answered the phone that night, Nate was extremely upset and confused. I tried my best to talk with him to try and get a better idea as to what had happened that night. By the end of our conversation, Nate had asked to come hangout with me the following day as it was the weekend because he needed to be with friends. Instead of just saying yes, I told him I would get back to him because I wasn’t sure what my plans for the weekend were yet, but I would definitely text him the next day. Nate took that as a no and made the comment “It’s okay, I’ll probably end up doing what I was planning to do anyways.” I had no idea what that meant, and I regret not asking. The conversation came to an end, and sure enough, the next morning while I was babysitting I had texted him to check in and see how he was doing. Not thinking anything of it until later that night, Nate never answered me.
As the weekend went on, I still had not heard back from Nate. I tried calling, but only once. It wasn’t until this day that I felt like the world’s shittiest friend. I had just gotten home from a family baby shower when my mom played a voicemail left on our house phone. It was Alan Beitman, the superintendent of Region 10. He explained what had happened and though he did not give a name, I fell into my mom’s arms and started balling — I knew it was Nate.
Nate took his life shortly after he and I hung up that night, and never answered me because he had been in the hospital with doctors trying their hardest to keep him alive. Unfortunately, Nate’s friends and family surrounded him as his life came to an end here on earth on February 6, 2012 — though he still lives on in our hearts and memories.
Attending school the next day was hard. The halls were filled with hugs and tears and faces of complete disbelief. I can’t think of one class I attended that day as I sat in the guidance office and blamed myself. For months I blamed myself and replayed the phone call over and over and over again in my head wondering if I had just said yes to hanging out that day if Nate would still be here with us. Four years later, I still find myself asking those questions, but I have come to realize that there is nothing about the situation that can be changed, only lessons that can be learned.
To all those reading this right now, take the time to help someone out. Friend or not, if you see someone having a bad day, take a second to compliment something good you notice about them, or check in and see how they are doing. If you see your friend has been down in the dumps for a consecutive period of time, make plans to spend time with them or take their minds away from things. At the end of the day, you never really know what someone is going through until it’s too late — even the people closest to you. To all of those with similar stories like mine, it’s not your fault and you could not have known. There is nothing you can change or take back from the situation. Always know that in some way you helped them, even if it was too late, you were still there. Don’t ever blame yourself.Nate, you were one of my best friends, and now you are one of my favorite angels. Even on my worst days, I know you are with me through the red objects you put in my path during those times. You’ll always put a smile on my face. You were and are always loved.