I woke up Saturday morning, ready to take on the day as I halfheartedly prepared to report to a volunteer project I had agreed to work on a few months ago. It’s not that I didn’t want to do it, but my own life is hectic at the moment with all the things we let we let clutter our day-to-day existence. My boyfriend is coming into town next weekend and I’m in desperate need of spending some quality time with my house. I need to do laundry, shop for groceries, get some writing done, transfer old blog posts, catch up on my DVR… Nothing of earth shattering importance, but it all adds up to my life, nonetheless. I sipped my coffee while scrolling through pages of Google reader, Twitter feeds, emails and Facebook, mindlessly checking in on what everybody had been talking about since I had drifted off to sleep around midnight the night before. One incredibly short post altered my state of mind.
R.I.P. Saul Juliao
I met Saul (or Chris depending on his liking that year) in the 4th grade when we moved to Nashville from Austin. Through years of what I generally qualified as torment at the time, Saul had been an on again, off again confidant and cohort. I have few clear and vivid memories of high school and I am constantly reminded of events that I took part in, of which I have little or no memory. However, I have very vivid memories of Saul. One of my favorites involved us skipping out of class one afternoon and going to his house. We sat around and sang while he strummed along on his guitar. To this day, whenever I hear Let Her Cry by Hootie and the Blowfish I think of him.
Even as teenagers, I felt like Saul was a bit of a lost soul. He wasn’t a bad kid or particularly tormented. In fact, I remember his wide engaging smile and his laugh as much as I remember his resonating voice. Saul just seemed a bit disillusioned with everything, but maybe that’s what we had in common aside from the performance choirs and madrigals we both participated in. I transferred schools and years passed by, but I have thought of Saul fondly and often.
Since learning of Saul’s suicide I’ve also learned of the problems he’d had in recent years. Drugs and alcohol had a grip on him that he couldn’t shake. I’m still heartbroken for him in more ways than I can articulate. Initially I was consumed with sadness, imagining how he must have felt. I’ve been low before (and I’m sure more of us than will ever admit it have had the fleeting or not so fleeting thought that it would be easier if life just ended where we stood), but to feel so strongly that there’s no way out and your only recourse is to end your life… I don’t care how many years had passed, I would give anything to have bumped into him or gotten the out of nowhere phone call from him. I would have given anything to have had the opportunity to let him know that people cared for him more than he realized.
I went to the Designathon for Youth Turns on Saturday, my eyes red and puffy, feeling the tears well up in my eyes whenever I was alone for more than two minutes. Having something to do helped keep my mind off the tidal wave of sadness that threatened to overtake me. My involvement wasn’t life changing. I don’t really feel like I did anything of significance actually. I took pictures, tweeted until people were sick of hearing from me and rounded up a few news segments on our efforts to boost morale. Hopefully, what I did helped. I know the work Youth Turns is doing is important for a lot of other kids who feel alone and lost. They’re trying to reach out to children of incarcerated parents and letting them know they aren’t alone, and that there are people who care about them immensely. Thanks to the work they’re doing, these kids won’t be forgotten.
And thanks to some teenage rebellion and an affection for music, neither will Saul Christopher Juliao.