I understand suicide. I do. I’ll simply state that I went through a time where I felt such psychic pain that had I not known it would go away soon, I’d have considered some desperate solutions.That doesn’t mean it makes it easier for me to hear about the senseless death.
Anthony Bourdain was found dead of suicide earlier today in France, he was only 61.
I suppose we all felt like we knew him, I mean, we went literally everywhere with him. God, I loved that show, Sunday nights when MSNBC was all prison porn, Bourdain’s show was a luxurious, guilty getaway; “Where are we now, Anthony?”
The irony was that the show was ostensibly about food, and yes, much of the filming took place in and around Anthony eating with others. Really, though, the show was no more about food than “Starry Night” is about paint. Through Anthony, the viewer believed that he or she personally sat at the table, meeting the same people, with Anthony asking what we’d always be wondering anyway.
He worked in the back of a kitchen until he was 44, can you imagine? Anthony? Total obscurity? Only at 44 did he write the book about what goes on in the back of a top restaurant. That book propelled him out into the dining room, among us, and then out the door, to travel. He remade himself over the next 17 years, going from the kitchen grind to having what many called “the greatest gig on TV.” Along the way he fathered a daughter, the love of his life, age 11 now. There’s a fking lump the size of a pumpkin in the throat of this father-of-a-10-year-old girl, thinking about what his little one must be going through right now. That’s one thing that I can’t imagine, the kind of pain that leads one to say “good-bye” to a child in that way, it makes you angry.
There’s always anger about suicides, the sheer selfishness of it. But, even the anger comes out hollow, because we can’t know. We can assure ourselves we’d know better, but we can never put ourselves in that state, how he felt last night, how my cousin felt last year, how Kate Spade felt …
We can only deal with the present, and the living, and commit to the future. We can see that none of us are immune, and we can make promises to those we’d hurt the most, a pact among those close in our lives. “If we’re ever hurting badly, we promise we are going to talk before doing anything …”
It sounds so trite. Yet, I personally know of two people walking around today, precisely because of a talk like that. Talking is the only way to keep track of it. Mental illness can be transient, arbitrary, and capricious. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if it caused a bad rash? Everyone would know. We would know to ask the afflicted if they “getting that taken care of?”
If that level of depression came with a rash, we’d also see that it can happen to anyone, young or old, father or daughter, poor or rich, quiet or gregarious, the isolated or the life of the party. It might even appear on the man with TV’s greatest gig.
There isn’t a rash, unfortunately.
That doesn’t mean that there aren’t signs, things to discuss – talk. Ironic, the man who made life interesting by talking to people wouldn’t go find someone to talk to during that darkest hour and made a choice he can’t reverse. Make a pact with your loved ones that you’ll always talk, first – always, because everything “unknown” is more easily traveled with someone else, even if it is an anonymous voice on the end of a phone line. Do you doubt Anthony could’ve had a great talk with a stranger?
You will be missed, Anthony.
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