As the years roll away from that fatal moment that changed the lives of so many and as I witness the maturing of his friends, I often find myself wondering what a twenty-three year old Barry would think today.
Barry was not religious, yet he “believed” in life after death. He believed that he would be sitting in heaven watching over the people he loved, especially the girl he chose death for. He believed that he would be able to protect her forever. He said that.
I don’t know what happens after we die. People believe all sorts of things. My own belief is somewhat different to Barry’s, but how do we know for sure? I don’t think we can. Not until the time comes, and even then there’s no guarantee, because death could be everything and it could be the absolute end. Nothing. Zilch. The End. Our belief systems help us cope with the unknown. They help us face the inevitable. And Barry believed he was going to heaven.
So maybe he is sitting on a fluffy cloud watching us and if that is the case…what would he be thinking now?
He would have witnessed the grief he left behind and realised he had caused a pain and hurt that he had never imagined. Because it is not possible to imagine the grief of suicide survivors (meaning the people left behind). Not if you’ve never experienced it first hand. Also, he had never experienced the death of a close relative, so how was he to know what grief is, let alone how losing someone to suicide would make it so much worse? Watching his family and closest friends fall apart – mentally, physically and emotionally – would not have been part of his vision. I know that if he sat and witnessed all that, regret and sorrow would fill him and he would be sorry he caused that anguish.
But the thing I think of the most is, did he really think through his plan to protect the girl forever? Did he envision life moving on? Would he have realised that she would met someone else and fall in love? She was young. It is only natural and normal that this would happen. But, at the time he made the decision, did he realise that?
In all honesty, I don’t think he did. I don’t think he thought things through properly. If life after death is what Barry believed it to be, then he is sitting up there watching the girl he loved move forward in life. Watching her smile and laugh and be happy. Watching her planning a future. Watching her in the arms of another man. Was that in his plan? Of course it wasn’t! Did he think she would be immobilised by his actions? Did he think she would love no other because of his final pledge to her? I have no idea what was really going through his mind, but I think he must have thought something along those lines. Because why would anyone take their own life just to sit in heaven and watch their loved one move on…with someone else? It would be pure torture!
So, yes, I find myself wondering what Barry would think of his actions now. I wonder if he would regret the biggest decision he made in his life. I wonder if it was worth it (to him) because suicide is final, there’s no going back or changing your mind once it’s done. I wonder if he truly knew these things.