There is something about a first friend that is irreplaceable. No matter how disparately your lives travel, the first friend you ever had occupies a special place in your heart. I was lucky that Michael was considerate enough to be born four months before me, waiting next door, ready to join me in elaborate childhood games of hide-and-seek, multilevel couch forts and family camping trips in the Catskills.
Michael was quirky and inquisitive, equally adept at dismantling the innards of a telephone, figuring out how to sing “Hey Jude” backward, and testing the physics of fire escape ladders. We both became vegetarians at sleep-away camp — I because I thought it was cool, Michael because he literally couldn’t hurt a fly, protesting the flypaper strips that dangled from the ceilings and carrying spiders out of the cabin to set them free in a thicket of blackberry bushes.
When Michael killed himself during his sophomore year of college, it was a horrible shock. I’d known he’d been depressed, but we’d lost touch, so I hadn’t known the extent of it. But it was the fact the he’d shot himself in the face, in his childhood bedroom, while his parents and brother were watching TV downstairs that caused the most intense pain. How could someone who defended flies against the barbarity of flypaper find in himself the capacity for such violence?
via Lives Cut Short by Depression – NYTimes.com.