Here I am sitting in Anchorage again. This is the second time in three months that I’ve been here. Far away from almost everyone I know, and alone in the beautiful cold. It’s been surreal here. I think Anchorage is the only city I’ve been to where I constantly see strangers with familiar faces. I keep seeing the same people every time I’m here. Only problem is they are not the ones I’m looking for.
I came out here on nothing more than a whim. I spent my summer here in Alaska and I fell in love with the state. I wanted to stay. I didn’t want to return home, especially after my last week here in September. You would think that I should know by now that I should always expect the unexpected, and that nothing ever goes to plan, but I digress, I came here chasing a dream. In my search for the dream I left behind I found nothing I was looking for. Then something unexpected happen, no not the dream I was chasing, but another form of an echo of the past.
As I sat in a bus station in the cold night waiting for a warm bus to take me back to the room I was staying at, a middle aged homeless native came and sat by me. He was friendly and his face was inviting, I welcomed his company and we began to engage in a conversation. The faint smell of booze came from him, but I didn’t mind, it was bourbon, a favorite of mine, so I welcomed the smell. Then something unexpected happened, he told me he was dying from cancer. I told him I was sorry to hear about that, and he quickly told me not to be. He then told me that two years ago he lost his daughter to suicide, and this past year he lost his son to suicide as well.
My heart sank as I heard him tell me this. You can see the pain in his eyes as he spoke. As a person who has lived with depression and have battled suicide as well, I felt like it was all too familiar. He told me without his kids in his life, he didn’t feel the need to keep on living. That burying your children is the worst thing a parent will ever have to do. As he went on, all I could think of was my parents, my family and my friends, all that helped me out of my last bout. I remember that at the time, when I thought I couldn’t take any more pain, the only thing that stopped me, was knowing I would be transferring that pain onto them. That was something I was not willing to do.
Soon my bus arrived and I said goodbye and that it was a pleasure to meet him. I walked out and as I waited in line for the bus, I knew I couldn’t leave. Not yet, not without saying something. I ran back to the door of the station opened it up and said. “A year ago, I almost took my own life as well, but I didn’t, because I didn’t want to hurt anyone. So now I live for people like you.” A big smile cam on his face and he said “Bless you”. A gave him a nod and I left, just making my bus before the doors closed. As I took my seat I looked back at him and saw him sitting there. Still smiling from ear to ear. I was happy for this unexpected encounter. I don’t know if my words helped him, as much as his words helped me. Perhaps we both gained something we needed in that moment. I haven’t been depressed in over a year now, but the memory still lingers. I don’t think I’ll ever forget it, not one line. I’ll always remember so that I know that I can survive it.