When Paul was at school, a group of his friends often used to come and stay at our place. Over the years, because of Paul’s addictions, they all fell away. His closest friend, Luke ‘Biscuit’ Alexander was stabbed in the back seven years ago, while trying to help his twin brother, Mark ‘Biscuit’, who had been stabbed in the flank. The knife went through Luke’s heart, killing him instantly. Another friend, Ryan ‘Kizza’ King, was murdered five and a half years ago,  by his uncle, who stabbed him in the neck with a broken glass, at his mother’s birthday party.

Josh was usually present at Paul’s sleepovers. He was a likeable boy who was just one of the crew to me – a diabetic who always carried Mars Bars with him, in case he went hypo. I remember worrying about what would happen if he went hypo when he was on his own, and slipped into a coma without realizing anything was wrong.

Over the past two months, Paul has seen Josh’s younger brother and sister, and I think he saw his mum as well. Each time they’ve asked Paul if he’s been in touch with Josh, and Paul has had to tell them he hasn’t. They wanted to know how he was.

Paul wants to reconnect with his old friends. They were almost the only true friends he had. A couple of weeks ago he managed to get hold of Josh through Facebook. He doesn’t have his own account, so he used his girlfriend’s. They chatted a bit – “Howz you?” “I’m OK, howz you”? kind of thing.

Last night Paul rang me. I didn’t know it was him, as he was using someone else’s phone. I wouldn’t have picked up if I’d seen his number.

“Hello mum,” he said.

“You can’t have any money,” said I.

“I’m not ringing for money,” he said.

“You’re always after money. It’s the only reason you contact me. You make out it’s for something else, but then you want money.”

The connection was bad. He said he really wasn’t after money, he just wanted to explain something, and he’d ring back when he was somewhere with a better signal.

He rang back.

“Josh commited suicide. He hung himself.”

He was in Paul’s year at school. Paul is 29.

Paul hadn’t rung me to try to get money.

My heartfelt sympathy goes out to Josh’s family. These few words are inadequate, but no amount of kindly outpouring can even begin to heal the pain of their loss.

Rest in Peace, Josh.



30 thoughts on “Josh

    1. For some years, suicide has been on the increase in this area. There’s particular concern about the suicide rate of under 35’s. All those I’ve known to go through with it have got drunk first.
      It’s terrible.


        1. I had a feeling you were talking from experience… I expect you’re glad you didn’t go through with it.
          That’s the saddest part of it. I went to school with someone who committed suicide when she failed her nursing finals. It she could have got through that dip she probably would have had a good life. She was such a happy girl at school.

          Liked by 1 person

  1. Those are the kinds of moments when we assume we know something and don’t that I always regret and get heart achy over. I’ve been there with my kids before, too, although nothing on that magnitude. Did Paul know what had driven Josh to do that now?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I am so, so sorry!! Poor fellow…

    If I may, I know we only just met each other, I’d like to offer some perspective regarding your son. The call to you to let you know tells me that there is still a human being inside him. That’s not in any way to suggest that you even give a fraction of a millimeter to allowing yourself to become vulnerable to him again. Please don’t!! I just hope this perspective does provide some encouragement on some level that there may yet be hope for him.

    I did a stint in rehab when I was 29. It was forced on me, in a way…in the way where some people at a shelter said ‘do this and you can stay here; otherwise, you’re out on the street.’ I wasn’t seeking help with my addiction. Me and my addiction were just fine – or so I thought. But once I got in those treatment rooms after some days/weeks spent sober, I got scared into sobriety. I saw so clearly how close to death’s doors I’d actually come. A wisp of a frog’s breath could have sent me through it. About a month before these circumstances, I remember doing whatever I did when I was messed up, which was pretty much all the time…just by varying degrees, depending on what I could get my hands on and when. For some unusual reason unbeknownst to me (still), I stopped for a second to look in the mirror. I searched and searched and remember so vividly the words spoken in my head: ‘there used to be someone living in here…I wonder where she went?’ Then it was back to business as usual.

    We get opportunities along the way. These series of events happening in your son’s life, running into you out and about and what transpired, finding out about his friend, any number of things. The call placed to you tells me that he’s at least recognizing something, even if he hasn’t quite realized the gift/opportunity he’s being given.

    My sober birthday is this month. On the 21st, I’ll have been clean and sober for 23 years.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for being so open with me. I’ve been around both using and recovering addicts all my life. Some have been clean and sober for 20 years or more. In the end you get a feeling for it. I thought you’d been through addiction, and come out the other side. Congratulations – you got your life back, and you got your son back, although you lost many years with him. You could have lost everything. you have my respect and admiration. Staying in the mire is far easier than dragging yourself out of it.
      I know there’s still a human spark inside my son, but I have to try to ignore it, because as soon as I let him near, he bullies money out of me. Just over three years ago he robbed me of every penny I had, and left me in debt. I had to borrow money to pay my bills. Taking monaey from me has become a habit, and I believe that seeing me makes him think of heroin.
      I’m glad we (virtually) met.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Addiction, in particular, drug and alcohol addiction, makes me angry: angry about what it does to people, to families, to society.

        Hmm…It seems I’m getting in touch with my angry side once again, which is good, I think. Interactions on facebook were starting to castrate me, so to speak, into being compliant and not talking about things that make people uncomfortable. Well, it just so happens, that I’m intensely uncomfortable with complying with people’s wish to not be disturbed by an inconvenient bit of unflinching honesty and observation.

        Sorry. Didn’t mean to go off on a tangent like that and rant. But, seriously. Addiction does make me angry. It’s the worst, most insidious kind of thief!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. No need to apologise for ranting. I’m with you all the way. Addiction makes me furious, but I don’t know where to direct my anger. It’s not as if it has a body, or a mind – it’s just a disease. I think of it as the evil witch of addiction, while my daughter, being a heroin addict, calls it the H monster. But it’s just a habit that attacks our system, making us believe we need it. Maybe that’s the most frustrating thing of all – we don’t have anywhere to place the blame. Yes, we can point the finger at the dealers, or “the bad crowd” (as in “He got in with a bad crowd” – I hate that assumption) but it’s not that simple.
          I compare an addict to a vampire – he’s just someone who got bitten, and turned into something else (that bites).


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