It was late at night, just a few weeks ago. No matter how hard I tried I couldn’t sleep. Instead, I ended up playing Guilty: The SiN, an ero-visual novel. Even though the plot is dark, the dialogue can get silly at times. I had just come across a line that made me laugh hard when I noticed that there was a notification on my mobile’s screen. A close uncle of mine asked me to contact him as soon as possible. I did so with no delay.
“Listen, when your mother wakes up tell her to contact me immediately”.
“What the hell is going on?”
“I want you to keep quiet. Ok?”
“X. is dead. He killed himself a few hours ago.”
From Our Early Days to Today
Growing up I was an unsociable kid. I always prefered to travel into non-existing worlds instead of facing the real one. Family meetings were among my biggest challenges. Too many people talking louder than I could tolerate and showing much more intimacy than I would like, made me feel uneasy among them. X. and S., my cousins, were two exceptions. Me, my brother and sister used to spend a whole lot of time together playing, fighting, laughing and occasionally making each other cry. We lived the typical lives of kids our age. At the time they were the closet thing I had in what we know as friendship.
They were both older than me, so when my early childhood was nearing its final days they were already teenagers, showing less and less interest in our games, focusing instead on girls, porn, smoking (to look cool, of course) and heavy metal. I remember that I used to tease them about their taste in music and how they tried to look tough, wearing black and leaving their hair long. One day, for reasons long gone from my memory, they lent me “A Real Life One”, a live album by Iron Maiden. For many years it came to be the only piece of music I was truly passionate about. I loved the music, the cover that looked more awesome than awesome, the lyrics, the mysterious name of the band. But it wasn’t enough to turn me away from my favorite hobby, videogames. Soon we got distanced.
Some years later, when I finally reached my teenage, X. decided to lent me three more albums. Blind Guardian’s “Follow the Blind” and “Nightfall in Middle Earth” and Iced Earth’s “Alive in Athens”. I got hooked, especially with Nightfall . More albums followed and we started finding some common ground again. It was a short lived reunion. My cousins’ family life started deteriorating. I am all in favor of divorce when two people can’t co-exist any longer but it’s important to do so peacefully. I only know the details of how ugly the fights between their parents went. It must have been deeply traumatic for X. and S. to experience that. I don’t like using such strong words but I feel like this is one of the cases where the facts cannot be described in other ways.
My family was shaken by similar problems. Big fights happened and my parents started living apart. It was around that time that I realized I was in love with a close friend of mine and that I really liked acting girly. I realized I belong to “poustides” (the term many Greeks use to label homosexuals. Think of it as a direct translation of faggot). I was a sissy who wanted to kiss men, to be taken by them, who loved wearing dresses and being a girl. I was what I shouldn’t be. I started feeling fear even to the thought that my disguise may have noticable flaws. I didn’t know but, at that time, I officially got into the closet. This brought forward great insecurity and distrust towards those I was afraid of, especially parents. As time passed my family stayed united and things got (somewhat) calmer. X. and S. were not that lucky. Not only did their parents divorce but also kept on with their disputes, much more aggressively. Both their children left them and cut off all communication. For years they traveled from country to country, often living homeless. I consider my teen years to be very traumatic but I can’t imagine what my cousins went through.
We completely lost contact to them, until recently that is. X. had come back to start his life anew. We met, ate together and laughed. We had an intimate discussion among ourselves, where he told me about the years he was gone. I thought of opening up to him -but I didn’t. After so many years of filling myself with distrust I have come to no longer be able to connect with relatives, even good ones. For me, someone of the same bloodline is a potential danger, not someone I can trust. So I kept my distance. Time passed, things seemed to go as normal. And then X. decided to take his life. There was no way to overlook reality anymore; we, as a family, were broken.
What Came After
Neither X. nor myself are the only family member to attempt suicide. Others have been abused. And there are those who express themselves in anger towards the world instead of self-loathing. Either way, our generation got really screwed over. I look at each one of us and we do have as many scars as little potential for future improvement. And, oh boy, aren’t we also looked down as disappointments for not kicking ass as much as our parents and grandparents -supposedly- did.
One of the clearest memories of my last discussion with X. was when he asked me about another relative’s suicide attempt. “Is it true? Did they really try it? Well, I get it. I agree with them, you know, philosophically. Suicide can be a way out. The way the world is why not kill yourself?” At the time I didn’t take his words seriously, thinking of them as mere sophistries. As if he wouldn’t really take that step. Ever since his passing I’ve come to find myself thinking; was he right after all?
The people I love are hurt and sad. I am pretty helpless to assist not only them but also myself. I am constantly thinking how weak I am, how pitiful I feel when I have to organize huge plans to go out for a walk as a woman because I am still in the closet, that if I am forced to chose between my identities and having a roof over my head, I won’t be able to defend the former. I’ve been unemployed for over two years, getting less and less good at what I do. My money are almost zero and, at age 27, opportunities seem to slip right by me. At times it feels as if this isn’t a game worth playing anymore. Was X. right? Is death a solution?
We buried X. in a typical, Orthodox ceremony. Some of his friends were there alongside his family. No one but his mother saw his body. I remember thinking that his coffin looked so small and cold. So fake, like a plastic imitation of a toy box. They took the coffin in a temple and a priest spoke his religion’s words -he knows them well, that’s what he’s doing for a living. Then some men, probably employers, took the casket and transported it to the place of burial. As we were walking rain started falling. Only a few had anticipated this and carried umbrellas. Personally, I couldn’t care less whether I was getting wet, looking like a mess. While they were burying X. an employer asked us to go to a little house near by, to drink coffee or alcohol, eat cookies and talk of the dead. They asked us to hurry, I guess to avoid getting the place too crowded.
All the time I couldn’t stop thinking how I hated this. Is this the way we say goodbye? By leaving before he even gets fully buried, our hands clean? By drinking coffee and eating cookies? Who the fuck cares about all that? Who thinks of this as a proper separation from a beloved one? Don’t take me wrong, I am a capitalist myself, I respect the need people have to make money. Also, I understand that there are many more ways to mourn than one. But I cannot imagine why would anyone see this anything but a blasphemy, an insult to the deceased. X. deserved way better than some bullshit merchandized ceremony. And what comes after? People laugh again and walk down their paths. Sooner or later they find others to love. And that is wonderful, that is good. Life must go on after death or else it’d all be in vain. But my cousin never took what he deserved, not even in death. And that will never change.
I am thinking of my body in his place. Forced in a little dark space. I don’t want to be buried with such regret. I don’t want to be the bullshit excuse people who wished for me to live in the closet will have to pretend family, some distant memory to my dear friends or just another reason the damn baker will have to sell his cookies. I deserve better. And it’s hard to remember this. I think I understand how X. could forget. After all, I do the same mistake constantly. When I ignore health problems, when I sulk under my blankets, whenever I am putting myself in danger or when I blame myself for things I am innocent of. But I do deserve better. My dear Foxy-chan and all my beloved friend, even the family I am so angry at deserves much better. You reader are the same. Don’t forget that.
X. we never had the chance to properly meet again. I don’t know if we’d truly like each other or if we’d come closer. There’s a good chance none of this would happen. I can’t promise you we’d ever be like we used to. So no melodrama from me. I just want you to know that I am thankful. For teaching me how to walk and playing with me. For showing me magazines underage kids shouldn’t be looking at. For the moments we listened to music together and talked. For all the albums you shared with me and the burgers we had together. Most importantly, for opening your heart before taking your way. I do cherish all of it and I apologise for not helping you. Wherever you are I hope you’ve found peace. I promise to take as much of my time as possible until we meet again.
Please forgive me for any grammar or spelling mistakes. This article is much more personal than I’m used to and I don’t want to heavily edit it.
 Still one of my favorite albums of all time.