Recently, I’ve been re-posting words I wrote shortly and long after Alec committed suicide on March 1st, 2010. While I had been planning to republish those words eventually, recent events made getting them up a priority.
Right after Alec’s wake, I drove into town to meet up with some of his friends who had come through the line to grieve, to express their sorrow, to express their love. These were kids I knew, some of whom had been running in and out of my house when they were just small children in elementary school. Young people devastated by the loss of their friend, my son.
The photos below were taken from that night. I’m in the blue shirt.
Laughter, you’ll note, is a great pain killer
At the center of these photos, shy, terrified, in shock, and coping as we all were, is Stacy, Alec’s girlfriend.
A few days ago, Stacy ended her own life.
To her family and friends, please accept my deepest, deepest condolences. I’m so very saddened by her death. I was in disbelief when I heard the news. Stacy was an absolutely incredible person and she meant so much to so many. Just a terrible tragedy.
I know this loss and I feel this loss and my heart is there for you. If you ever want to talk, please, know you can always reach out.
I always thought that the first time Stacy and I met in person was after Alec committed suicide but she’d correct me later and say that we had met prior to that. I have no recollection of us meeting before then. I knew her, and knew who she was, and knew what she meant to Alec, but I didn’t remember meeting.
But in the difficult and surreal moment when we were sitting in the the home of Alec’s maternal grandmother with all of his family around, the pastor gathering eulogy information from me, his mother, his grandparents, aunts and uncles, and Stacy, it was then that a bond formed that couldn’t be replicated with anyone other than each other. We had a connection through Alec that didn’t exist with anyone else. And tragically, and beautifully, we both “made” the suicide note, Alec wishing only that he could see the both of us again.
Out of the worst possible tragedy, Stacy and I formed a friendship instantly. Over the years that followed, she and I stayed in touch, often randomly, but I knew she was out there. And she knew, too, that I was out there. And we could always talk and grieve and console each other and give each other solace. Or just joke or share whatever was going on in our lives.
And I think we both meant a lot to each other because we shared this closeness with Alec but we were still both sort of outsiders to the family. My ex and I had split many years prior and, with the exception of my other son, Zach, there wasn’t anyone I could really grieve with. And my relationship with Zach would suffer enormously following Alec’s death, another tragedy in the aftermath (which, thankfully, is now finally on the mend.) So Stacy and I had each other to hold onto and to also keep the memory of Alec alive.
At the end of 2017, I was living in Columbia, South Carolina and I was out at a bar one night. I remember I was talking with someone and I was looking at the door. In walked these two young women and I immediately recognized one of them. It was Stacy. She was moving back to Columbia.
When she arrived to town, she and I quickly became the best of friends. Inseparable. It was just wonderful to see the person she had grown into and how she had changed over the years. She was just the funniest, goofiest, wittiest, sharpest person. And sooo much more. Those were some of the happiest days in my life, the time we spent together. We laughed stupidly and incessantly.
We did this one particular photo shoot early on and I’m so, so very glad we did. Stacy was a musician and had an absolutely beautiful voice. And when she sang and played the guitar, it was just so lovely to sit and listen.
And so we went on for a bit, being the best of friends, having the best of times. The candid outtakes from that shoot capture the Stacy I knew.
On a side note, Alec’s nickname was “Sunshine” and I loved that detail in this set of photos.
Unfortunately, our friendship took a left turn and we had a terrible falling out. One that I regretted then and even moreso now. That I couldn’t be someone Stacy could talk to over the past three years just kills me inside. I hate that I wasn’t there for her.
I’ve thought often about it, the break in our friendship. And what it really came down to is that I wanted more from Stacy than she could give in that moment. When she and I became best of friends, I had this beautiful revelation, this vision of the two of us, partnered up, making the world a better place and bringing the tragedy of mental illness and suicide to the forefront. I thought we would be an unstoppable force. We had started to toy around, shooting videos of her singing and playing the guitar on my front porch. It seemed as though fate was keeping us together and life had such incredible purpose back then. Everything was becoming clear to me.
And then Stacy met and fell in love with a boy. My ego (naturally) took hold and I became protective and jealous. Because here was this random person stealing away someone so deeply meaningful to me, ripping away from me one of the deepest connections I had on the planet. But he wasn’t, in fact. Stacy was simply being Stacy, living her life. It’s funny, I had the thought of comparing her to a caged butterfly and then I realized how much she would absolutely detest that analogy and how wrong it actually is. I mean, if we’re going to pick an insect for Stacy, I think she’d be pleased if we went with Mothra.
I reached out to her some time after our falling out to try to make amends. It was so very stupid to lose our friendship and our connection and it never should have happened. But I never heard from her again. She used to call flawed people “lizards” and it was the funniest thing to hear her say it. I imagine that I became a lizard in her mind after our split. Maybe I didn’t. I don’t know.
But she never changed in my mind. She was always Stacy. Always the girl who meant so much to Alec. Always the young woman who would come to mean so much to me. She had such a beautiful soul and was loved by so many. Rest in peace, Stacy.