Saturday, February 25, 2012

Sans Roxanne

The driving notes of the guitars, the crashing beat of the drums, and then the soulful vocals of Sting—I always stop and pay attention when I hear the song “Roxanne” by the Police. It was a popular song in 1979 while I was in college at UC, and it takes me back to those wonderful years of my youth.

But there is another aspect to this song for me. In some respects, I suppose I should say this song haunts me. I have only known one person named “Roxanne” in my lifetime. She was a fellow student at UC, and was a year or so behind me. I can’t say that I knew her well (as I recall she was a softball player), but on that small campus everyone knew everyone to some degree. She seemed nice enough, and I can still picture her with her long brown hair and aviator style glasses (a trendy thing in the ‘70s).

After I graduated, I heard that she had committed suicide. I don’t know much about what she was going through, nor how it happened three decades ago, but I always hate to hear when a fellow human being decides to end his or her life.

I can remember a boy who killed himself in junior high—that was probably my first brush with suicide. I didn’t know the boy well (he was a year behind me and had gone to a different elementary), but later in life I got to know his father. I always wondered if my dealings with this boy’s father made his dad look at me and think of what may have become of his son. I always sensed a feeling of loss within his father, even decades later. It was a bit sad.

Teenage years were tough on a lot of us. Everyone at one time or another during difficult times has probably thought it would be easier to just end it all. However, I would urge anyone with these thoughts to think again. There are lots of good folks who would be willing to help if you just reach out to them and take a step back from the abyss. We’d rather have you with us than gone from us. Please don’t hesitate to seek help if you have thoughts of suicide. One resource is the National Suicide Prevention Hotline. It is free and confidential—just call 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Please don’t give up!

I’m not saying that Roxanne and I would have made a couple, but I wish now that I would have tried to get to know her better. Maybe a little extra camaraderie from all of us would have helped provide her with a reason to stay with us. Perhaps she could be joining other UC alums from our era on the riverbank the last weekend in April for the Governor’s Cup alumni gathering. However, instead of seeing her again on the UC riverbank, she is frozen in time within my memory, ever waiting for the cue from Sting to reappear in my mind…“Roxanne, you don’t have to put on the red light.”

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