Big Liar’s death affected me in many ways. I thought about his last strange phone call two nights prior to his body being found, and how I thought he sounded different, pondering if he planned his death. Many times he told me of his depression, so it wasn’t doubtful. No one knew for over six months whether or not he committed suicide. Having that hang over your head is a tough pill to swallow. The wait seemed to take forever. Everyone questions what they could have done, and some had the audacity to spread terrible, untrue rumors that hurt many people. Others simply got information incorrect. Not knowing the truth made it difficult to have closure for everyone.
Living down the street made it extremely difficult while I grieved. For a long time, I drove in the other direction, even though it was a more dangerous route. I saw his sad house when I took out the garbage, unless I purposely turned my back. Eventually, I had to pass, and the sad feeling became worse. It was a combination of eerie, sad, and lonely, as if I could feel everything that happened there. Big Liar wasn’t the only person to die in that house, and for a long time when I rode by, I felt like someone was watching me. Even though there is new life now, the property still has some heavy energy.
So many mixed emotions arose from his death, not only for me, but the others he left behind. People felt guilt over one thing or another – a horrible feeling to harbor. For many nights, I cried thinking that Big Liar’s last phone call was a cry for help, and I did nothing about it. But how could I know? He was always drunk, I told myself. And he was a manipulative liar, so how would I know that something is true coming from him? His ex told me he was a classic, abusive narcissist; and when I read about it, he checked off every box. Still, it affected us both, and she was the only other person who knew him I could share a commonality.
Someone made a Facebook group about Big Liar memories, but they did not add me to it. I had just spent the last two years being friends and more with this person, and I had some great pictures of him to share. This really compounded grieving, because other people from school long ago were added, and they weren’t even close. I was like, what the fuck? This is weird and shitty. Not only was I his neighbor that saw him frequently, but I had dated him on and off for a year, and we were still friends. I wanted to hear the funny stories about him and know some of the good parts. It affected me profoundly and cut me deeply that they did not give me the opportunity to process my mourning with others, even if it was only online, because there was no funeral to close this chapter. The only thing that healed my grief from Big Liar’s death was time.
Months later, I was out with a friend, discussing how I never had closure from his death. She thought maybe going to his place one last time would help. We were already on the way to my house when she pulled into his driveway. Windy and pitch black, the air was cool and refreshing – the perfect night for this. Using my phone light, I walked to the back porch where Big Liar often sat on the wooden swing, enjoying the view. When I shined the light on the swing, the chain on one side was broken, leaving it hanging mysteriously. Seeing that creeped me out, because I didn’t know the story behind it, and I tend to think like Stephen King. Nothing else looked out of place except porch furniture gone.
I sat on the porch steps and cried. After about fifteen minutes, I looked up and noticed something in the yard, something white. Cloth? Towel? I picked it up. It was Big Liar’s shirt! I couldn’t believe I never saw it before, because it was bright white in the grass. It smelled like him. I bawled for another 15 minutes while my friend waited in the car for me. When I felt better, I went back and thanked her, because it was just what I needed. It felt great to be where he was, have something of his to hold, to breathe and cry out all of that hurt in that particular space. It needed to be done. I slept with that shirt for a while, then on occasions when I felt really depressed or lonely. It’s put away somewhere, but now I think the time has come to let it go.
Big Liar’s ex contacted me with the shocking autopsy results. There was nothing in his system that indicated suicide. Due to alcoholism, an enlarged heart and cirrhosis of the liver killed him.
Knowing it wasn’t suicide definitely alleviated some of the pain and guilt and helped to move forward with healing. It took about a year to feel a real difference in how I felt when I passed his house. By the second year, I felt even better. Unprovoked, more than two visitors to my home that are unaware of Big Liar voluntarily said they felt like someone was watching them. This was a surprise in a way, but I wasn’t discounting the possibility. Shortly after his passing, I awoke in the middle of the night to some banging sounds coming from my kitchen, as if someone opened and closed a cabinet. When I checked, I didn’t see or hear anything and went back to bed. It happened again and a few more times but inconsistently. I imagined that it was Big Liar looking for beer or hiding his cans the way he used to, saying hello when the veil is thin. Sometimes I wave while passing his house, wondering if he’s in the yard waving back from the other side.
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