The Other Side Of The Coin

Missing as a concept has given me the heebie jeebies since I was a little girl. Distinct memories of Unsolved Mysteries, reports of children disappearing on the news, the novel turned movie The Face On The Milk Carton. How does one just vanish into the ether, without a trace? The thought alone makes my skin goose up and crawl. An experience I ardently wished never to have. That all changed in January 2018. Mindlessly scrolling through instagram, I came across my childhood friend Robbie on a missing poster; as if all those moments were preparing me for this. I hadn’t spoken to him in a few years, we were close until he moved away in 10th grade. Then we kept in touch via Facebook until he deactivated his account for an extensive period of time. None of that mattered. Attending a specialized middle school where 8/123 students in our year were black, with only 3.5 of us being cool (Robbie, Wesley, Me and sometimes Malcolm) creates an eternal bond. We were outliers who shared a unique and rare experience, we empathized. He was my brother, even when he used his good-looks and charm to be a jerk. I’d always knock him down to size, especially when it came to his playboy proclivities.

Beyond race our grade was close knit. Everyone was freaking out, messaging one another for updates and sharing his information. I called my mom sobbing (she knew him) and then my friends who tried to remain positive. Bereaved, I knew from one look at his face that he was gone. Telling them I think he hurt himself, he looks depressed, he went to the water. My witch senses told me, I could feel it in my bones. However, they remained optimistic saying he could have just needed to clear his head, get away. Yeah, I said. Wanting to believe it so bad.

Robbie was: handsome, well-off, educated, talented, well-traveled, material wise he needed not. He was funny, witty and dry. He was so kind. Well dressed. One of the coolest kids to ever exist. Women brazenly threw themselves at him. I watched Lauren knock over a large coke at Burger King due to his mere presence. Straight out of a movie, that scene where the girl does something mortifying in front of her crush. She babbled aloud. “Oh my god, oh my god, this is so embarrassing, I can’t believe I’m doing this in front of Robbie, I can’t believe this is happening…” As we watched napkins dissolve into brown mush, liquid dripping to the already sticky floor.

In death there is closure, whereas when someone ups and disappears the mind spirals. He left his house at 8pm on January 3rd. Anything could’ve happened: What if he saw something and was the only witness, so he was handled? What if he was getting something from the store and was shot during a robbery? Maybe he was kidnapped? He could be held hostage for being at the wrong place, at the wrong time! I cried endlessly. Praying to god that if he brought Robbie back I would do anything, forgive anyone. As time went on I ignored my intuition opting for optimism. My friends were right, he’s in Africa deciding his next move, starting over.

That March he was found deceased. I was angry with myself for a multitude of reasons. For starters buying into the delusion that he’d begun anew somewhere. Robbie suffered from depression and took his own life, the only thing I haven’t confirmed is how. Second, as someone whose battled this disease I wish I connected earlier, to tell him that he’s not alone, this isn’t his fault; he deserves better, more. Had I taken one second to see if he was back online, looked at his captions, I could have prevented it. I know he probably told others, but when your life looks perfect people write it off as ephemeral sadness, especially in the black community.

And that’s the other side of the coin, knowing bad things when you don’t wanna. Helping strangers, but not being able to save my friend. As unreasonable as the burden is to bear, as a witch it weighs heavy all the same. For what it’s worth Robbie, I’m sorry I couldn’t get to you in time. I’m sorry you believed this was the only way out, I wish you could see the things happening now. The world has changed since you’ve left. Black lives matter, black mental health matters. You mattered, you always will. Via: Max From Tax