Getting more personal
At 3:08 p.m. on February 20, 1991, I lost you, my best friend and my first boyfriend.
We met in Mrs. Daws' first grade class at Aurora Road Elementary School. We would skate on couple skate at Southgate Roller Rink. We would send each other notes.
You moved away.
10 years later, 16 years old, and we met again in the parking lot of Parmatown Mall as I was singing "You're So Vain" and I was making up lyrics and pointing to cars and people in the parking lot. You drove past in your Mom's car and then backed up, stopped, and remembered me right away, asking if I was Tara Hruby.
We were inseparable.
We went to all my school functions together and you were attending Valley Forge High School. I remember everything that week that led up to that horrible day. We had Valentine's Day together and I got a ring, a stuffed animal and a card. We had our Sweetheart Ball at my school on February 16th and had a great time. On the day you died, I called you at lunch on the payphone near the gym to say hi and tell you I loved you. Sharon the security guard told me I needed to get off and get to lunch. I had a dentist appointment right after school and went straight there. Dr. Karbasi told me I was going to get my top braces off and I was so excited to tell you Johnny. I stopped home and my Mom told me you had called about 2:45 p.m. but I was running behind and I had to get to babysitting by 3:15 in Solon for Mrs. Davis. How I wish there were cell phones back then.
I figured I would call you back when I got there like I always did, 3 times a week. I tried to call that day, but you never answered. It makes sense now since I got there at 3:15 and you died at 3:08, but at the time I didn't understand.
It was a Wednesday. The day that I usually saw you before the weekend. I got done babysitting at 5:30 p.m. still looking forward to seeing you. It was unusually warm for a Cleveland area day on February 20th, 1991. I can still recall the smells as I drove my white 1984 Oldsmobile Firenza down Aurora Road, passing the cemetary right before the Bedford Heights baseball diamonds and wondering what it would be like to lose someone you love so much, never imagining what was in store for me.
I stopped at Gastown on the corner of Aurora and Rockside because I was so excited that gas went down to $.98 cents a gallon! Since it was in the midst of the Gulf War, you never knew what the prices would be. I put $3.00 in, enough for half a tank, and I knew for sure I would be able to come over that night to hang out. Five minutes later, I arrived home and my sister Kim opens the door with a look on her face I couldn't quite understand, but I blurted out "who died?" My brother Parrish and my mom came to me crying as they told me you had committed suicide.
I couldn't breathe. I couldn't process. It didn't register.
You were the first person I wanted to call to tell what happened. My dad got KFC chicken that day. The go-to death meal. To this day I can't eat it, at least not at funerals or cookouts. The snack I had that day while babysitting was triscuits. I threw them up and haven't eaten one again in the years you have passed. I asked Mom to take me to Holy Trinity Church, she took me with my sister and they waited while I sat on the rock that we used to sit on together after Church.
I talked to you. I cried to you. I understood. But it didn't make the pain any easier.
I went to your wake and funeral, hoping I would get some type of closure. Even though I understood it was a very hard thing for a 16 year old to go through, especially because it was a closed casket. To this day I remember my father holding my hand through meeting everyone, it was the first time I met your father who had been living in California. My father told him he was so sorry for his loss. Your estranged father commented "I'm more concerned with the living." My dad squeezed my hand so hard, and now I realize it was probably because he wanted to hit your dad.
Johnny you were my first crush, my first love, and I want you to know that because of your suicide I have become a stronger person. Because of your turmoil, I was able to take that negative and build a thriving private practice. I see you everyday in the eyes of my clients who suffer from depression and many other disorders. I haven't lost one yet, I just wish the world hadn't lost you, because it would have benefited so much more.
For anyone interested in donating to a suicide fundraiser, please contact me or the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.
If you're considering suicide, please talk to someone, anyone. I'm always available, 24/7, 239.699.8622.