Mulligans and Missing Him

By Alison TedfordJune 27, 2016

What I really want to do when I remember Kevin is take just one last mulligan. We used to play Hot Shots Golf together. That was our thing. We were incredibly bad at that game so we cheated relentlessly, taking back our awful shots and replacing them with better ones to boost our scores. Now I just wish I could take back the years that passed when we lost touch. It shouldn’t have been that complicated; our friendship mattered more than any of the details, and he certainly mattered more. I wish I knew if there was anything I could have said that would’ve made things turn out differently. I wish I had been there for him in the way he was always there for me.

We met in high school. We were young and full of potential. He had this smile. I miss his smile. We dated briefly, but we were mostly really close friends. He would take me out to the movies, or we would watch TV in his basement. We would cruise around in his mom’s car, listening to Fresh Prince at full blast with no particular destination in mind, and sing along happily. We were invincible. Life was easy, the summer sun warmed our faces, and we laughed a lot. He had the gift of focus; in his presence, you mattered because he paid attention. We grew up together.

When we were all grown up, he was a groomsman in my wedding to his best friend, and he was our roommate in the first house we bought. I purchased my wedding dress in a neighbouring city, and I really wanted to take pictures of it to show my mom. He bussed all the way out there. He picked it up for me and hauled it home on the train so it didn’t get wrecked. He walked it home for me, this giant garment bag concealing what seemed like acres of tulle. It was so heavy, but he was so strong.

That’s what I remember the most about him. He had really strong arms, and he gave great hugs. I felt so safe, like nothing could ever hurt me. I was so tiny next to him. I remember crying in those arms when things went wrong. There were times of loss and incredible sadness. He supported me in my eating disorder recovery even though he didn’t really understand it. He was on my team.

He always helped me feel included. He even let me come to his bachelor party when I was ridiculously pregnant. He was my husband’s best friend from childhood, and he was a part of the family. Every holiday there was a plate for him. It’s really hard thinking of his empty plate now.

These are just a few the things I remember, just a few of the things I miss.

I remember the night I found out Kevin was gone. My husband and I had long since separated. He called me on the phone and told me that Kevin had taken his own life. I remember staring at the phone in disbelief. I cried so unbelievably hard. I kept asking him if he was sure, and I could tell he was crying. I knew he was hurting even more than I was. They were like brothers. I thought of Kevin’s beautiful wife and their little girl, and my heart just ached for them. I told my family because he was part of their lives too. My sister didn’t believe me; she made me call my husband back and ask again just to be sure I hadn’t misunderstood. I dialed the phone with shaking fingers and prayed for the words I was longing to hear. I wanted to hear that it was a mistake. I wanted to hear that I misunderstood. He patiently repeated himself: Kevin was gone.

I will never know what he struggled with that led him to that point. I will never know why it happened the way it did. I miss him so damn much. I couldn’t go to his funeral; that felt like admitting he was gone and I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t look at him like that. I needed to remember him the way he was: singing in the Honda Accord with Will Smith blaring from the speakers and the sunshine beating down on his dark skin. I told my husband I would watch our son so he could attend, and I volunteer every year to do so for the annual memorial event held in his honor because I still can’t face it.

In missing those events, I thought I could hide from the fact that the world has lost a beautiful soul. Every so often, reality intervenes, and I’m required to address it in some small way. Whenever I see a suicide covered in the media and hear the inevitable commentary about selfishness, I get angry and I remember. Selfish is the last thing Kevin was. I’m thankful for the friendship of his wife and that I have the opportunity to witness his beautiful little girl grow up. I hope he’s enjoying the same view from Heaven. I really miss him, and I have never so desperately longed for the opportunity to take just one more mulligan so that I could tell him how much I love him and how much we all love him.

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Comments (15)

  1. Sharon

    Having been in that place of darkness of the soul, I can affirm that suicide has nothing to do with selfishness. It is about putting an end to pain that seems unending and unendurable. It is about sitting in the belief that the world would be better off without you. Even those who love you would flourish in your absence. It is about thinking you need to escape from your life, when indeed, you need to escape from your despondency and depression.

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  2. Whitney

    What a beautiful tribute for such a sad situation. Thanks for bringing the light on suicide prevention.

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  3. Jorrie

    I’m so sorry for your loss. I lost a friend to suicide, and it was an awful feeling of sadness and guilt–maybe I could have helped if I had only known she was in such pain. Thank you for talking about this, it’s important that people know there is help out there- many people struggle with thoughts of suicide. You words are helping to break the stigma. ❤️❤️

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  4. Kristin

    I get angry when anyone says taking your own life is selfish. In my attempt, I was doing it for the ones I loved. My distorted thinking at the time was that they would all be better off without me. Them, not for me.

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  5. M.E. Matthews

    This piece reminds me that you never really know a person. We all have a façade that we show to hide what’s really going on in our lives. My heart goes out to you and his family.

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  6. kathy radigan

    What a beautiful tribute to your friend. I’m so, so, sorry. Mental illness takes way too many amazing people from this world. xo

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  7. Kala Tiede

    Thank you so much for writing this. I experience the same anger every time I hear someone call suicide selfish. Thank you so much, I hope you are doing well.

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  8. Ang

    Beautiful – I’m so sorry ….

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  9. Kelley Larew


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  10. Bellla

    Kevin was and will always be blessed for your love and friendship. Such a beautiful blog.
    God bless

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  11. Cindy

    I used to think that suicide was selfish, until my own attempt. Now I know that those who commit suicide are sick and need help. Their thinking is so distorted that they believe their loved ones would be better off without them. They cannot stand the pain of self-hatred any longer and cannot see that things WILL get better again. NEVER judge someone who attempts/commits suicide.

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  12. David

    This was beautiful

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  13. rhiannon

    <3 I have a friendship that sounds a lot like this one. And I can't imagine losing him.

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  14. Margaret

    I’m so ashamed for the times I’ve said “That’s so selfish”. Never again. I’m so sorry for your loss.

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  15. Ali

    Coming from someine who jas recently became a _____ I can relate. My boyfriend things its selfish and I explained I just reached a breaking point. He just doesnt seem to understand, he see the good things we have and doesnt realize or the darkness I see.

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