I put my material away, locked up the lab, grabbed some coffee to go, and headed home. On the drive, I thought about Geoffrey more than usual. He was brilliant—he had a Ph.D. from Stanford—and he seemed to have a love for life when we were together so many years ago. At that time, he showed no signs of depression. I loved him more than anything in the world, and I was devastated when we broke up and he left for Australia. When he returned a year later he was a different man and I had moved on, but I still wanted him in my life. When he needed me I was there for him. Except for the night of his suicide. He had called a few days earlier and asked me to come over and hold him. His depression was getting worse, and had been since he returned from his sabbatical. He tried medication and it didn’t work for him. I tried to convince him to try different types of antidepressants, that one was bound to work for him. “Try walking,” I once naively suggested to him, thinking exercise might help.
The last time I talked to him I was really busy with school and could not do the forty-five-minute drive to Pasadena. I told him to hang in there and I would see him next week when things calmed down for me. I will never forget that cruel phone call I got a few days later. “Cali, I’m a friend of Geoffrey’s,” the man said with a somber voice. “He was found dead this morning in his house.” I began to shake. “Was it drugs?” I asked. “No, a gun. Your name was on a list of people to call. There will be a memorial service on campus. I’ll call you back with the date and time when I find out more,” he said before hanging up the phone. I screamed and cried and walked to the store to buy cigarettes, a habit that I had managed to quit just months before. I wanted to go to a bar and just drink all day, but I pulled myself together and went to school, sat in the Japanese garden, and contemplated life. Tom and Sasha stopped by the garden to offer their condolences; so did Len and Kyle. I was so used to going to campus that I didn’t know how to stay home and cry. I had to be somewhere, and the garden seemed like that somewhere. Death was sad enough, but suicide brought guilt, a feeling that I still had driving home this evening. I was nervous yet excited about getting my tattoo.