Thursday, September 17, 2015

Watching from the Sidelines

I was at his second wedding. It was a casual event, held outside at a gazebo in a local park. It was lovely; I teared up at the "to have and to hold" like I always do.  The bride hiked up her wedding dress and rode away with the groom on a tandem bicycle.  We sat at a picnic table with Dr. BB's friends from the bike shop, laughed as they got consistently more and more wasted and more and more ridiculous, and then walked home hand in hand.

His wife's name was Lauren and I liked her so much. She was hilarious, worked hard at her job at a union, and we would always find ourselves huddled together at bike shop events as the "wives." He was playing in a band one weekend and when Dr. BB and I showed up, she scurried over to my side, told me that her future in-laws were here, and she was just meeting them for the first time and could I please, please, please go over there with her. This is when I found out it was his second marriage because the hushed whisper of "they hate me because they think we're rushing into this and we'll get divorced like he did before" was uttered just before I shook his father's hand.

I was waiting for Dr. BB to finish up his job at the bike shop once, filling my bike tires with air and generally goofing off when he came up to me and started telling me just how awesome Dr. BB was. Since I actually knew this information, I began quizzing him about his life (school? Lauren? upcoming gigs?), but when I got to questions about family he shut down. I watched his eyes dim, his smile become tight, and I heard his voice crack.

By the time we left Minneapolis, Dr. BB was worried about him. He had gotten divorced from Lauren, just as his parents had predicted. He was drinking a lot. The photos on Facebook showed him with bloodshot eyes, an ungroomed appearance, and nary an unhappy face.

The news that he had died hit Dr. BB hard.
We went to a lecture by a professor at the university where we teach that included a mini-battery of personality tests. Dr. BB and I were laughing (yes, I'm a Type A and he's not, he's a green and I'm a gold), but when we got to the paper about depression, Dr. BB's numbers were disturbing. We stopped laughing.

On the way home, I sort of went into crisis counseling mode.

"Do you have suicidal thoughts? Do you have a plan?"

The answers were encouraging, but the big helping of denial that went with it was not.

Treat others with kindness. Remind them that you love them. And definitely go on a bike ride with them in honor of Ben.

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