I met Brad when I worked for a call center back last year, after coming back to Utah. He was younger than me; I was 23, he was 18. He pranced around with a happy-go-lucky manner wearing polo tees and unnecessary amounts of bracelets. Typical "I just got out of high school" kind of guy, and I didn't pay him much attention. Him, or any other co-workers.
But something happened, along the way. Brad and I as well as a few others ended up getting really close, and we were actually so disruptive at our job that the instructor (an American version of Hitler who was 80ish with a black belt, named Larry of course) separated us from sitting next to each other. And though part of Brad's personality was the fluffy 18 year old idealism that everyone who has just graduated has, I sensed some other part of him, and that was the part that I got to know over time. Brad is extremely intelligent, logical, and a deep thinker who has a very, very old soul.
Being an INFJ as I am, I often draw conclusions about people based on nothing but my intuition, and rarely has this method failed me. I sensed that there was a lot more to Brad than what he shows people, even though he's up front with questioning, and in some ways an open book. He's a sensitive kid, and his heart is too big to exist. After I left that job (and at some point, so did he) we fell out of immediate contact, but would sometimes Facebook IM or Skype. He enlisted in the Air Force, and though I was sad, I was also proud and excited--with my brother recently out of the Air Force, I know how life-changing it can be.
Then, when I was in Sweden, I got the feeling (again, intuition operating on an unknown premise) that I should get in touch with Brad. He'd been silent for awhile, but I figured that was the preparation for the military. A lot of people, including Ron, went through a period of "withdrawal" due to leaving home and loved ones behind. I tried several times to get in touch with Brad, and it didn't work . I knew he didn't leave for the Air Force until May, so right when I started to get extra-concerned, Brad messaged me.
He had attempted suicide and luckily was pulled to safety by a policeman. I don't know the details, but I know it was a close call, and now Brad is staying with his brother, still in a fragile mental state and sounding really lonely. We had a long phone conversation the same night that I found out this news, and in my over-protection and desperation to give Brad something to look forward to, I arranged a weekend outing to Utah's theme park, Lagoon. He seemed to genuinely be happy about this forceful shove into doing something social, and so this Saturday, weather permitting, I will be riding roller coasters with my young, sweet friend who has a heart too big to exist.
Never take your friends for granted. If they're going through a quiet period, go ahead and be nosy and check up on them. Even if they get mad. Make a point of being there for them. I for one am a private person, I don't really use my energy on people--especially people I don't know well--but people who are a big part of my life, ie my friends, deserve me to be there for them, when they need it. So I will be dragging Brad out and about and forcing him to ride roller coasters and laugh until he feels better. I just had to post this entry because it suddenly rang true to me how quickly we can lose people we care about. And I had to write about how much I love Brad, with his wit and adorable naivety. He's years younger than me, but again an old soul, and someone I've had a lot of laughs with. Here's to a lot more.