.. es. I will never forget what he said to me, “Death is hard and it’s going to be hard. But you’re going to get through this. You’re all going to get through this.
You’re going to be okay.” He gave me a hug and walked down to his room. Tammy and James came out and I tried desperately to figure out what to do. I thought of grabbing a frying pan and hitting him as hard as I could with it. I figured that when he came to, he would be really furious, but alive and furious. I could not stop crying and James tried to comfort me.
I shouted at him to do something, anything. He turned off the music. Kenny emerged from his room and pointed the gun at James, telling him to turn on the music again. James obliged and Kenny retreated back into the room. Finally, I remembered the list.
I know it seems morbid, but I just wanted time, time to think of what to do, time for him to realize how ridiculous this was. I screamed, “The list! Tell him he has to make his list first!” Finally, after ten minutes of shouting and pleading, screaming and crying, James agreed to tell him to make the list. I was just desperate to take action, any action. Tammy waited in the living room and I followed James down the hall to Kenny’s room. James reached out and put his hand on the doorknob and we heard a loud pop. He turned the knob and opened the door.
Kenny had just shot himself. He looked up, saw us and held up his hand for just a moment, before he fell to the ground. A plume of blood had formed on a large book in front of him. I remember wondering if it was my literature book and thinking it looked nothing like blood at all, but bright red nail polish. Kenneth James McFeeters died at 11:57 a.m. James shoved me out of the room and closed the door behind him, crying and choking.
I fell to the ground in complete hysterics. James yelled at me not to go in the room and ran for help. I had to know Kenny was really dead and so I opened the door and crawled in. What I noticed more than anything, were Kenny’s beautiful eyes looking up at me, but not seeing me. I can still see him on the floor, blood and bits of brain splattered everywhere.
I retreated, crawled out the door, feeling unable to breathe. I ran to Tammy and lost any control I had had. I went into mild shock during the next few hours. I was unable to stop crying, even momentarily. James tried to call 911, but no one answered fast enough.
He dropped the phone and ran for his parents’ house, just up the street. I remember their father riding down on a 4-wheeler at full speed. I was shaking and could do nothing but cry. His father asked over and over again if we were sure that he was dead. Their father is a big guy, looks like a biker, though he is actually a businessman.
Seeing him breakdown and cry only made me cry harder. Finally, the paramedics arrived and James lashed out at them for taking so long screaming and trying to pick a fight. Upon the arrival of the police, we all were separated. I remember fumbling my way back over to Tammy and crying on her shoulder. The cops yelled at me and told me to get away from her.
James got in their faces and told them to leave me alone to no avail. Eventually, they determined we were not murderers and allowed us to be together again. I could barely utter a sentence through my tears, let alone answer questions. I do remember James asking someone if they were going to clean up the blood and the cold reply, “No, you’ll have to do that.” They told James he would have to clean up fragments of his own brother’s skull and blood. Someone walked me up the road to Kenny’s parents’ house. Kenny’s mother and I sat together and cried together.
The Gideons sent two old pastors to the house to deal with our tragedy. They handed out bibles and told us to focus on the positives of the situation. Kenny’s father yelled at them and threw them out of his house; “You want me to find the good in this?” Everything was a mess. Kenny and James had a younger brother, Mike, and sister, Tonya, both still in high school. Their parents decided to wait for them to get home rather than go to town and get them (they lived way out and didn’t want to leave anyhow).
When Tonya and Mike got home, I watched as their father told them what had happened. Tonya began shouting that it was not true, that we were all liars. She ran into her bedroom and slammed the door. Mike sat in disbelief with us. Bad things happen in three’s, that’s the old saying.
It is true. I had taken my truck home the night before, so we had to find a ride home. The only person we could get a hold of was Riley, whose father had shot himself two years previous on Christmas. On the way back down, I sobbed quietly. We passed another ambulance and Riley slowed down and said he had seen that truck pull over in front of him on his way up.
We saw the paramedics pull a blanket over the old man’s body. He had had a heart attack while he was driving. As we went by, I saw a woman crying uncontrollably. I suppose it was his wife. I can’t remember much else about that night except for a good friend coming to stay with me, Joey, who lived down the road from Kenny and had known him since grade school.
I rode with him back up that damned mountain rode to get some clothes and such so he could stay with me. We hit a cat. One, two, three – just like that and I cried until I had no tears left. Then, I cried on without them. My life changed completely that day.
I had never lost someone so very close to me. I had never seen anyone die. I grew up more in one day than I had in all my years on Earth. Nothing seemed to carry any importance any longer and I fell into a deep depression. I did crazy things without justification.
I wanted to live every minute as if it were my very last. I was haunted by Kenny’s face when I slept. I relived seeing him fall to the ground over and over again. I prayed he was just trying to stop us from seeing him, but could not help but wonder if he realized too late that he had made a mistake and was reaching out for help. I obsessed over the “what ifs”.
What if I had just hit him on the head with a frying pan? Would he still be alive today? What if I took the gun from him and fired his only bullet? What if we had called the police? Why didn’t we call their parents even though Kenny had told us not to? Why was he so set on dying? I couldn’t stop trying to figure out what we had done wrong, where we had failed to reach him. I was unable to think without thoughts of him popping into my mind. I felt as if everything were my fault. I thought that if anyone could have helped him, it should have been me. I hadn’t been able to help him though and I felt I was a failure as a friend.
I tried to numb myself with anything I could find. I turned to a party life where friendships didn’t seem as serious so that if I ever lost anyone again, it wouldn’t hurt so much. I felt like I couldn’t trust anyone. The repercussions of his suicide stayed with me for a long time. I still feel them.
One of the hardest aspects of his death was simply the fact that he was no longer there. I would hear a funny joke that he would have loved and I’d make a mental note to tell him then realize I couldn’t. I’d hear a great new band and want to ask him about it. The little things like that were the worst. The simple fact that he was not here.
People always talk about suicide in a distasteful manner, as if the very word leaves their tongue bitter. They talk about the selfishness and the stupidity of suicide. All of this is true. Yet, I no longer am angry with Kenny. When he first died, all I wanted in the world was five minutes with him.
Four minutes to beat the living daylights out of him and one minute to hug him and tell him how very much he means to me and that I love him no matter what. I would give anything to be able to go back and change that day, but I can’t. As far as selfishness and stupidity, they were commodities Kenny lived without. He was a beautiful person inside and out. He truly believed that killing himself was the best thing he could do for any of us.
I still feel the effects of Kenny’s suicide even today. I will never be so ignorant again. I won’t tolerate suicidal talk from my friends. I let them know that there are a million alternatives, each and every single one a better choice. Friends are a strange thing.
I don’t think I could have made it without my friends, but at the same time, I couldn’t stand them. That sounds terrible and ungrateful, and it probably is. I don’t ever want to face that kind of loss again and thought maybe if I didn’t care, I wouldn’t have to. You cannot help caring though, it isn’t something you choose to do. It just is.
As soon as everyone found out what happened, I became a morbid type of celebrity. I couldn’t walk ten feet without someone asking me if I was okay. How was I supposed to answer that? No one wants to hear if you’re not okay. I wanted to say, “Well, I’m here, aren’t I? Kenny isn’t here. Who do you think is the one who isn’t okay?” I am no longer so naïve.
I try not to take things for granted. I will never commit suicide. I could never put anyone through that. It was a life changing experience. I don’t know if Kenny were to suddenly come back from beyond if we would even be friends. I have changed so profoundly since that day that I am a new person. I hope wherever Kenny is, he is happy.