I had slept in, but it was still early when I rolled over in bed and found an email from my housemate, Gordon, on my phone. He’d sent it after midnight – out of character for him – and the subject line read, “Important: rent and other things.” It seemed important. It was long enough that my phone froze while loading it. I ran downstairs to check my laptop. Late-night emails were not his style.
Gordon, whose name has been changed to protect his and his family’s privacy, and I had lived together for eight years, in two different houses, always with other housemates, but he was the constant. We were never a couple – and both identified as straight – but I had, early in our first living arrangement, referred to him only half-jokingly as my wife. He did most of the cooking and mixed all of the drinks. He handled party logistics but often put me in charge of inviting people. In the throes of a major anxiety attack, he took me to Urgent Care and held me while I sobbed in the office until one of the nurses told us they needed to turn the room over.
The past few months had been tough on Gordon. His email touched on a lot of the reasons that I’d worried about him. His longtime girlfriend, Kim – who’d become my close friend – had moved out a few months earlier. Gordon’s grandfather had died and other members of his family were in declining health. Both of us had been struggling financially; his message revealed that a couple weeks before, a big, years-old tax debt had suddenly caught up with him. It cleaned out his bank account and left him desperate and, in his mind, with no attractive options.
Still, as I read it, I didn’t immediately get where Gordon’s email was going. Not until I reached a section outlining what to do with his possessions, followed by a list of people to call as soon as possible, did I recognize what this was: a suicide note. The list was subdivided into people I’d need to call for practical reasons – his boss, our landlord – and mutual friends who would help me sort through this mess. This mess.
Read the rest at Narratively.