Tonight, after Steve and I had each gobbled down our respective Fuddrucker’s cheeseburgers, his a medium-rare cheddar cheeseburger topped with onion rings, mine medium-well and smothered in pico de gallo, we sat and talked about a variety of things, as we often do.
Our conversation moved from how our day went, to what we plan to do this weekend, to how fast time goes by, to things we did early in our relationship, to writing.
And it was there, just after I decided to grant that last, cold French fry its reason for existence (I ate it rather than allowing it to be discarded), that I admitted my urge to write about suicide–about those who commit the act and those who are left behind. I confessed that with the topic of suicide, as with so many other “topics” in my life, I hesitate to write about it, worried about how it will make others feel, in this case, especially Steve himself.
As we approach the one year anniversary of my friend’s suicide, I feared Steve might think to himself, “Come on…when are you just going to get over it?”
“You know what my father told me once?” Steve asked, as he manipulated a napkin into a tiny sculpture.
“What?” I replied.
“He told me to wear what I want to wear.”
I tried to imagine the story behind what his father said, then asked. “What’s the story?”
“When I was in elementary school, in Penfield, New York, I remember standing by the bathroom door, watching my dad shaving in the bathroom. That morning, I’d dressed myself in gray baggy pants that were so big they had to be held up by a belt. ‘Dad,’ I asked. ‘Does this look okay?’ I’ll always remember what he said. ‘I want you to wear whatever you want to wear.'”
“Aw, that’s a sweet story,” I said.
“Well, I’m telling you this because I want you to write whatever you want to write. And I don’t want you to worry about what I or anybody is going to think of it.”
What a lucky girl I am. A Fuddrucker’s cheeseburger, a sweet vignette and acceptance, all in one night.