The Gorilla in The Room
It has been over a month since I've seen or spoken to my best friend, Cole. I have so many feelings that I have expressed in various manners, some good, and some bad. He came into my life abruptly and left just the same. Cole is many things, and I'm sure others will disagree with some of my sentiments, but here it goes; my feelings of loss, my meet-cute, my heartbreak, and the dreams I had.
He took his own life, the boy that could cut a tree down alone, and make a room of friends on a whim. He was a boisterous kind of guy, especially after a drink or two. Beer never broke his heart, and believe me when I say that. If I had the audio clip I'd drop it here, but since I don't I want you all to know that Cole "Loves fuckin drinkin' with you!" but imagine that voice real high pitched, a little drunk, and some weird southern drawl going on.
I write, man. I may not be the best at it, but I'm damned if I don't come back to the page. Cole was similar, but he was that way about his friends and those he cared about. He would rather make everyone else happy than himself, and as unhealthy as that is, you can't help but love the guy and accept that he was a little off-kilter.
Cole was nineteen when he walked into CPS, real awkward and quiet like. I was in my mid-twenties, about to be twenty-five. Center Pointe Signs is a loving company, that encourages family and friends to come into their environment. I have a little brother who is about the same age as Cole, so being familiar with the age gap allowed us to hit it off in a sibling-like fashion. Our boss had sent Cole to get me from the shop, where I was cutting material on the saw, at this point Cole was still very new and quiet. Cole opened the shop doors and shouted "You're in trouble, Motherfucker!" He was then yelled at by every manager in the room for his language. I was taken aback simply because I hadn't heard more than ten words from the kid, but he already knew I was going to be his best friend.
The one thing I know for sure about Cole is that he's persistent. I had heard about the haunted house he had built in his parent's basement. Some of our other co-workers were convinced to go check out his handy work, but I tried to hang back as long as I could. I liked Cole but found myself uncomfortable with the thought of being introduced to his family. His persistence would eventually get me into that basement, and later I would go on to meet the rest of the Wilson's.
I was fortunate enough to spend a Fourth of July at their house. Cole was in charge of how we shot off the fireworks. That is one of the first times I witnessed his leadership skills. I'm the oldest of two brothers, Cole is the oldest of his siblings as well, and this is a detail I sometimes failed to recognize. We allowed each other to take charge when the other wasn't as familiar with the situation we were approaching. When working with power tools, Cole had the know-how, when wrenching on vehicles I would have him fetch me the tools. Our friendship worked so well because we both had respect for the amount of knowledge the other had acquired in life. Cole was a smart fuckin cookie.
I had found out about the loss of Cole the same morning I had found out that I had Covid; for the second freaking time! Cole's father had called me from Cole's phone, I just wanted to hug the man but what good would that do when I was Covidifed. I knew Cole was struggling with something that I wasn't able to understand. We had talked about depression and anxiety. I had told him that I was here for him, he knew my door was open to him. My initial reaction to his death was that I failed my best friend, that I didn't offer enough of a safe place, that maybe I was too judgemental of our drinking habits. I've always been a drinker and I was starting to worry that the habit was becoming too frequent. Cole meant so much to me and I'm aware that he won't be found at the bottom of the bottle. He was much more than a drinking buddy, he was a good listener, a thoughtful friend, and a reliable brother.
I spent that first week stowed away inside with my daughter and my Fiance. This quarantine phase after his death was much needed. My fiance and I cried together through snotty noses, and pounding headaches. We talked about him every day and still do. In a way, it felt like his death was a fever dream, that I still haven't awakened from. I slowly realized that Cole was trying to cushion this loss for me. He didn't share the thoughts he had with me in hopes that I would change his mind, he shared them so that I knew that this decision was his alone, and I shouldn't blame myself or anyone else. I struggled with that at first. There was a lot of anger in me, and I expressed it to some people in ways that I hadn't anticipated. I will understand how to fix those relationships with time, because Cole didn't hold grudges, and I won't either.
Pshh, Get Real
I was able to speak at Cole's Celebration of Life, and I had a sense of comfort up there in front of the crowd of people that showed up. He was very loved. Every so often I get the feeling that Cole is still here protecting me and my little family. I talk to him now and then, and I'm convinced he listens as he would when he was here. I've never been much into spirituality but somehow the Budweiser sign Cole got me for my birthday is still lit when it would never
stay lit before. Something else I've discovered is that I have two pictures of Cole, one in my dining-room, and one in the kitchen. When standing in front of the sink both Coles are looking at you from both directions, and now doing the dishes is slightly more bearable LOL.
Oh Yeah, I'm So Excited!
Well good goddamn, I did it! My first post back to the blog! I'm starting to find my way back to everyday living. Part of me has reverted a bit to before I knew Cole. I'm listening to past favorite songs, staying in on the weekends to just play some games with my friends, and re-reading some books that relate to the situation. I wish I could see Cole prosper and move on with all his endeavors, but that's just not his story. Instead, I will do it for both of us. I have started a sales training program and will be making a career shift soon. Really hoping to fulfill part of me that has been yearning for more. Some of those late-night conversations Cole and I had were about wanting to follow our dreams, and I now feel an obligation to him. Life is too short and I've gotta take the leap in order to know if I've got what it takes to survive in a world of wolves. Sales is not the only path I'm staring down, but it is an opportunity to learn something new so I'm taking it.
Cole taught me so much, and his lessons are not over. I will implement his fun-loving nature wherever I go. My daughter will grow up knowing how rad her uncle was (btw Peyton, Cole's little sister, knitted this awesome hammer for my daughter. A picture of her with it on her first birthday is below). I believe that every day we are here, alive, we have the capability to re-read chapters of our lives and share them with others. His story can still be told a million times, and with that, he will continue to live through us. We can learn to approach suicide in a respectful way, and not treat life with reckless abandonment. We can learn that it is perfectly okay to unwind with a drink, but taking it to the next level is unnecessary. I will learn to not carry so much of a burden about such small things and to take chances in life.
Till Now, I Always Got By On My Own
If you haven't caught on by now, all the headers of this post are inside jokes between the two of us. Some are terribly stupid and others are completely necessary when understanding how our friendship worked. We watched many movies and youtube videos together, so feel free to go down that rabbit hole if you'd like, I'll leave some links. Thank you for reading this post and my return to Jake's Take, it took me a bit to find normal again, but I'll be posting. Take care of yourselves and your friends, I'll be back next week with the top 5 short paranormal films that can be found on youtube.
We will be alright.