2012 Week 19: “well, everyone must die; it’s true, but first we get to live. don’t ever, ever forget to live.”

The quote is from one of my very favorite Jason Anderson songs, El Paso. It has been running through my head a lot this week.

My friend Jeff Barszcz took his own life on Tuesday. Processing his death has taken a lot out of me even though this news did not come as a surprise. Jeff was battling with depression as long as I had known him, but I knew he had been depressed long before that. A few friends and I had, I believe, helped pull him out of it before. Before I moved to Chicago, Jeff was one of my very best friends. I often called him Jeffers. I was quite fond of his cat Wally, whom he often called Mister. He deeply loved his cats. He had a real connection with them. When my first hedgehog Hoggle died, I went into a deep depression over the loss of the first pet Zachary and I had. Hoggle was the first pet either of us owned outside of our family pets. A lot of friends did not know how to respond to me losing Hoggle, but because Jeff knew the deep pain I felt, he sent me this e-mail:

Hi. I’m really sorry about Hoggle. I know exactly how you feel, but please don’t blame yourself. You loved him and that’s all that matters. I spent over $2500 in vet bills trying to save Wally and I still kept thinking about what else I could have done, but you know what? I loved him so much and I tried my best. So did you with Hoggle. He was lucky to have someone like you to care for him. He’s in your heart forever.

Hang in there. It will get better.

Hugs,
Jeff

It is heartbreaking because I feel like I could have sent most of this e-mail that he had sent me to my other friends who tried very hard to save Jeff. Since moving away from the DC area in 2003, I had not gotten to see Jeff a lot, but the times we did get to see one another were very happy. He visited me in Chicago once while I was dating a previous dude and I got to take Jeff to see Jason Anderson at Texas Ballroom. I got to see Jeff whenever I went back to DC before he moved to Seattle. Zachary got to meet him when we went to Seattle together in spring 2009. Jeff took us to his favorite coffee shop, Espresso Vivace Sidewalk Bar.

Sadly, the last time I saw Jeff was in December 2009. He had a manic episode while I was with him and I tried everything in my power to help lift him up and he was still unhappy. I felt like I had failed him. After that episode, I pulled away from him. I never told him that I was doing so. We would still IM from time to time, but the friendship was not the same as before. When I called a mutual friend to inform him of what happened, he said he had always “sensed a darkness in” Jeff. The only solace I find in Jeff’s passing is that he is at peace now. His humor, his wit, his taste in food and music were all huge influences on who I am today. He will be sorely missed by so, so many.

Films watched 19th week of the year:

Foxes (1980)
The Immortals
EL BULLI – Cooking in Progress*

*documentary

2 thoughts on “2012 Week 19: “well, everyone must die; it’s true, but first we get to live. don’t ever, ever forget to live.”

  1. I’ve been lax on Twitter for the last couple of months, so I just now saw his goodbye post. I found this (well-written) post confirming it, and I have to say, I’m absolutely stunned. I didn’t know Jeff outside of Twitter, but he was a bright, witty fellow, and I hoped to meet him when I visited Seattle. My condolences.

  2. Hi Leigh- I lived upstairs from Jeff for several years at The Dublin, in Seattle; did I meet you by chance?

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