A Grim Balinese Summer

** The following article touches on the topic of suicide. TCK TOWN would like to advise reader discretion.

It had been a tough summer to say the least, I thought while entering the apartment of my third culture friends in Jakarta. The concept of happiness had seemed merely an illusion and although I had tried all summer long to feel the least bit human, I had spent most of my Bali days in bed feeling inconsolable. Actually if it weren’t for my Russian lover, whom I had met one week after I landed, I honestly don’t know what my state of mind would have been those past six weeks. In Jakarta I was mentally exhausted and ready to take my flight back home the next morning, but my friends insisted they were taking me out for dinner and drinks for my 23rd birthday.

My 23rd birthday. Now I smile when I think about it, but I also remember the grief from that day. Andrej had taken me to an exclusive beach, the sweetheart. The exquisite Balinese landscape with endless rice fields greeted us as we made our way to the shore on my scooter. It was quite a romantic day actually; we had the beach all to ourselves, with nothing but the sea, the trees and some rocks surrounding us. Andrej did his best to make me happy, and I felt guilty for not being as delighted as I should’ve been, for not being appreciative enough. You see, it wasn’t supposed to be like this. I wasn’t supposed to feel this empty, and I sure as hell wasn’t supposed to be this unhappy during my trip. But isn’t that always the case? You plan for life to go a certain way, only for it to forge its own path, leaving you in a state of limbo, not knowing what might await you.

Two weeks before my trip to Vietnam and Indonesia, my cousin had committed suicide. This event haunted me for nine months. He was a remarkable, beautiful young man, my cousin, with an incredible sense of humor and a brilliant mind. A big guy with a kind heart, a troubled man indeed, but with so many great thoughts. We used to have endless conversations about family, dreams, love and religion, plenty of laughter and discussions included. I never once blamed him for ending his life, I never once was mad. None of us were. We all understood the emotional suffering he must have been in and the despair he must have felt the moment he decided to take his own life. With all the pain in my heart, I still left for Asia two weeks after his death.

That night in Jakarta my friends had decided to surprise me with a birthday cupcake at the bar. A moment I still fondly think of, as it took me by complete surprise, and while I blew out the candle and looked at my smiling friends I thought of my dear cousin, of Andrej, and how for some reason I wasn’t alone, despite being far away from home and my family. How, for some reason, life goes on, despite events that torment you till you think you cannot survive. How for some reason I was lucky enough to be surrounded by loving, warm-hearted people who've made my travels bearable. In a twisted turn of events, I had lost my cousin, but gained the strength and confidence I needed to proceed.

It will be four years this summer. I love you, Ter.