Last night when I was lying in bed, catching up on the news, I saw an article that Ned had committed suicide. Hoping it was a hoax, I rushed to his Facebook and what I was currently fearing most was true: Ned had died.
Let’s rewind a few years back.
In 2010, I hit rock bottom. I was surrounded by many friends and family but I never felt so alone in the world. I was depressed, anxious, angry, and most of all, I just wanted to die. To keep my mind busy, my mom gave me a book called IT’S KIND OF A FUNNY STORY, a memoir written by Ned Vizzini. She said the synopsis reminded her of me, which is funny because it’s about a teenager who checks into a psychiatric ward because he wants to kill himself (my mom meant that statement in an endearing way — I think — because we are very candid and open with each other).
I read the book. Then I read the book again. Then I read it once more. I read it three times in a row. The book spoke to me, it touched me, it inspired me, and showed me that even though the unknown future is terrifying, it’s also going to be beautiful. And I wanted to live.
(You should see the book now, it’s beat to shit but still readable.)
I reached out to Ned via Facebook and spilled my guts about my situation and how his book healed a lot of my pain. He got my number and called me — we spoke on the phone and decided I should fly out to L.A. to meet and talk about how to cope with sadness. So I flew there and met him, his wonderful wife Sabra, and their newborn son.
(The sweet note Ned wrote in the book the day I met him.)
A few years later I moved to L.A. and took a trip with Ned, Sabra and son to the LACMA for the Stanley Kubrick exhibit. We spent the day walking around the exhibit in awe and Ned — who was quiet and awkward — spoke to me, asked how I was doing, and told me he’s really proud of how far I’ve come from the last time we had a conversation. It was a beautiful day and I can’t thank Sabra enough for beating it in my head to get my ass out of bed and meet them at the museum.
When I made it public I was giving up film criticism for film distribution, Ned wrote a nice note on his Facebook about it. He was such a big supporter, but more importantly, he recognized the reason why I reached out to him, the reason why we became friends, was because of my mother, who took a chance on giving me his book about depression and suicide.
I didn’t get to know Ned as well as I wanted to — we’re both awkward people and were awkward people around each other — but I did become closer with his wife, Sabra (she is a very outgoing person and could carry a conversation with my awkward self). So if you are reading this Sabra, know that you are a strong and an inspiring spirit and I love you with all my heart. Thank you for being my friend, copy editing my crappy writing when I needed it, and being so friendly to me when you barely knew me.
Ned, wherever you are, I want you to know that you were one of my heroes. Even though you’re gone, your love and support will never be forgotten.Thank you for helping a stranger from Facebook. You helped me and the best thing I can do is pay it forward.
Please pray for Sabra, their son and entire family. They have a hard road ahead.