A Long-Silenced Voice Speaks

by Bill Brenner on January 24, 2011

My dear friend Joy, who readers know by now as the widow of my late friend Sean Marley, sent me a note today — a message from the distant past.

Mood music:


She was looking through some of Sean’s diaries and wanted to share something he wrote about me 20 years ago:

“Bill is turning 20. He is such a fantastic human being. He feels so much and cares about the world and its goings on.”

It’s weird to see. One reason is that I tend to remember the more fucked-up part of me as a 20-year-old. The other is that seeing his words, so many years after he died, is kind of haunting. Sadly, I sometimes have trouble remembering what his voice sounded like.

Thanks for showing me that, Joy. It meant a lot.

I knew Sean kept diaries. I remember watching him write in them as The Cure, T-Rex or Riot (not Quiet Riot) played in the background. I never asked him what he was writing about, though sometimes he told me anyway.

A part of me badly wants to see those diaries. I want to see what was really going through his mind. Not to write about it. I’m sure there’s stuff in there he wouldn’t want to share with the outside world if he were here. Most people keep diaries for themselves. I’m an anomaly.

But another part of me is scared to death of what I might find. I’m not worried about what’s in there about me. To be honest, I don’t know what about it scares me. Maybe it’s just the idea of diving back into the past with someone you can’t interact with anymore.

It’s all a moot point, in any event.

Those notebooks don’t belong to me, and some stories probably aren’t meant to be told.

Consider this a case of me talking to myself, left to my obsessive thoughts.

If you have a best friend — I’m sure you all do — just be there for them. Listen to what’s on their mind, no matter how tired you are. Let your friend know he-she is loved.

If that friend has deep troubles, you may not be able to change the outcome.

But you’ll know you did your best and you’ll know what was on their mind.

And, perhaps, you won’t sit around years later ¬†wondering what that friend was writing in his-her diaries as the clock started running to run out.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Londyn VZ January 25, 2011 at 10:10 am

My best friend passed away about 3 years ago. It still feels like yesterday though, and I just wanted to say that if I had her diaries…I would have read them.

I don’t know the circumstances in which your friend passed but mine was an unexpected drug overdose. I think to this day that maybe there was something I could have helped her with. Things she wasn’t telling me…I think it would be nice to hear her own thoughts on the situation…not just my thoughts on what her thoughts would be.

Take Care!

billbrenner1970 January 25, 2011 at 10:14 am

Thanks for sharing. Sean’s death was a suicide.

Londyn VZ January 25, 2011 at 3:18 pm

Ahhh so even more questions loom in your mind then mine. Well I hope that you have found your “happy as you can possibly be” place.

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