JONATHAN LAZARUS: Brother, Son, Uncle, Friend; Student, Teacher; Drummer, Musician.
~ Melody Nolan, M.S.
“It’s not like you to walk away in the middle of a song….your beautiful song” (Why) – Rascal Flatts
Click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NjGCLHidIRc
Wow! Cool! The whole auditorium is packed!!! There are hundreds of people here! There’s a big screen in the front with my picture on it, and my bandmates are on stage. And programs. And buttons with my picture. And our album! This is totally awesome.
Thanks everybody! Thanks for coming! Thank you!
Hello? Hello? Is this thing on? Can anybody hear me?
I guess I’ll check with the band. There’s the drum set, but who’s in my seat? Why is someone sitting in my seat?
Hey, guys. What’s up? I’m here. Why are you ignoring me? Can’t you see me?
Oh…oh my god. Oh, no.
OH – MY – GOD.
I put in my earbuds. I laid down. I made sure I would never wake up again.
This program. It says Jonathan Peter Lazarus: December 25, 1984 – February 8, 2013. And one of these buttons has an outline of my face with a halo over it. This is a “celebration of life.” A celebration of my life – and I can’t interact with anyone. Everyone’s trying to put on a happy face, but it’s all fake.
Oh my god. They know. They know what I did. It was in the paper. I remember Melody crying. She was despondent. Pissed, really. She’d been depressed for weeks, unable to get out of bed. Her hair had such bad knots in it that it couldn’t be brushed, and she was itchy because she hadn’t showered for so long. Mom was really worried about her to begin with, and it was worse then because she wouldn’t answer the phone. When she finally found out what I did, she crawled head first in slow motion back under the blankets. Then she kept asking me if since I killed myself she had my permission to do the same, because she’d been wanting to end her life every day for years. I knew that, but I hadn’t really thought about it in a while because of my own stuff. And because when someone’s depressed so often for so long you kinda take it for granted that they’re gonna stick around, because no matter what they say or how bad things are, they always get through it.
Then she started screaming at me into the mattress that she was jealous, and saying all sorts of stuff that didn’t make sense about how she wished she had the guts to do what I did…like it was an act of bravery or something. She couldn’t hear me then, and she can’t hear me now, but Melody, no. The answer is NO. NO. You can’t. Don’t. Because look at all these people. Look at all these people I’ve hurt. You keep saying it wouldn’t matter if you died because more people are in this room than you’ve ever even met in your whole life, but that’s messed up too because I know you, Melody, and you get hysterical when you think you’ve hurt even one person for six seconds.
Melody, look at Mom. Look at everybody. Look what I did to them. Look at you. Look what I did to you. And I can’t work it out. Or take it back. Or make things better. Look at all these people I’ve hurt…forever. I know you feel overwhelmed and helpless and think you’re a burden. I know you’ve always thought that everyone thinks you should just get it over with so they can finally quit worrying about you, and that you think that now they wish it was you instead of me. I get it. You know I do. But Melody, oh my god. Trust me. Do not take your life because you will ruin other people’s worlds, and there won’t be anything you can do about it. I didn’t think anything could possibly be worse than what I was going through – and I know you can’t imagine it because I couldn’t -but you have to believe me. This is way worse.
I know you miss me. I know you need me… a lot. A lot more than either of us ever knew you would. I wanted to be a better brother than this. You deserve a better brother than this. I wasn’t thinking about you, Mom, or anyone else. I was engulfed in my own hell, and I had to make it stop. I had to. But now, it’s a different kind of agony…and it really will never end.Oh, my god.
My students. Those kids…they looked up to me. The drums were their passion and now they’re going to associate them and music with their dead drum teacher who abandoned them. And maybe some of them will think like Melody does – that since I chose suicide, that it’s okay. Oh my god.
And all the people who love my music. It’s playing now. There I am rockin’ out in a video on the screen. Wow! Ben did all this…this is a compilation of my whole life. It’s amazing! And he made all this stuff! Thanks, Ben. THANKS, BEN. I forgot. He can’t hear me…and he looks totally exhausted and has a stoic expression on his face.
I was smokin’! People are jammin’! But it feels tainted. When the beat stops, everyone will remember what I did and why they’re really here. To remember me. Because that’s what I am now – a memory. I wish people celebrated my life more with me one-on-one or in small groups when I was there. You can’t celebrate my life now. All you can do is honor my memory, and you have to do that for yourselves not me…because you’re the ones who have to go on living. And now, I’ve made your lives miserable. As if life wasn’t hard enough, I’ve made yours worse.
Are you guys ashamed of me? I know you don’t really talk much about what I did. Sometimes you don’t even say that I’m dead, if you can get away with it. Are you still blaming yourselves? This was not your fault. This was NO ONE’s responsibility except mine…but you are the ones having to survive the consequences.
Talk about being totally unfair. I’m sorry.
Really. I am.
Melody, I think you’ve forgiven me, for the most part. A lot of people have. It seems like they are way more compassionate towards me now than when I was alive. And that really sucks because if they had been like this before, maybe I would still be there now. It gives everybody the wrong message – like if you kill yourself they’ll throw a party for you, release some balloons, light a candle, and then be fine… because they’ll be grateful you’re at peace. But if you’re still alive they get frustrated and overwhelmed and don’t know what to do with you. Sometimes, they tell you they love you when they really don’t, because they don’t know what else to say. Sometimes, they’re mean to you. Sometimes, they just leave.
And the worst is when they don’t understand that you’re sick, it’s not your fault, and that no matter what it might look like to them, you’re fighting just as much as a person in hospice…and that in a way, that’s exactly where they’ve put you…because they say they will be there when you really need them – which by their definition won’t be until you’re hooked up to a bunch of machines or six feet under – instead of being with you in the present. I don’t get how people manage to find a way to take the time to travel to come to a service after you’re dead, but they can’t find the time to pick up the phone when you’re alive. It doesn’t make sense. We didn’t call each other very much, but we always called each other back. I wish we had both made the first call more often.
I see what you’re doing to try to help people understand. Thanks for keeping my memory alive…all of it. It seems like you never get tired of telling people about how we bonded when I curled up under the baby grand piano when you practiced. It’s true… that’s how I got my groove! And thanks for finding a way to turn what I did into a reason to do something good. I wish I could help. I know it’s not the same, but you, openly honoring my memory with TreasureLives, kind of allows me to do something useful in a weird by-proxy kind of way.
You know, you’re much stronger than you think you are, or than most people give you credit for. To be honest, more than I ever gave you credit for. I know managing your physical and mental health conditions are each full-time jobs in and of themselves…and look at all this other stuff you’re doing! I know your life is nothing like you imagined it would be, and that sucks. But you make it worse when you keep comparing yourself to some self-imposed standard of what you think you “should” be doing – and it doesn’t help things any when people accuse you of not trying hard enough. That’s insane! They don’t know what it’s like to live in your body. They don’t know the wars that go on in your mind. They don’t know the toll it takes on your soul. I do, so listen to me: Taking on TreasureLives, telling your story, and coming up with all these creative ways to get your point across is what truly takes courage. It’s totally amazing. Your email signature is “embrace uniqueness.” Embrace yourself, Melody. Keep putting that uniqueness to work in a way that only you can. Keep going. And when you’re sick or depressed or tired, or need or want a break, just take your own advice. Take a deep breath, and give yourself permission to #PauseNotStop. Because you really are an #AwesomeHero.
I love you,
Click Elizabeth’s picture to be directed to her site, Betty’s Battleground, where she has authored and published her February 8th story.