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Unknown Number

A few years ago I woke one morning to find a text message that had been sent a few hours earlier. I did not recognise the number.

Thank you for always being there. I miss training with you and the old gym.”

I replied, with a, “thank you very much and I hope that you are well.” Not thinking much else of the message. I had since shut the gym down and was not doing much of the coaching any more. So I dismissed it as someone finding out that had ‘retired’ as such. Some days later I received a phone call from that same number. It was the mother of the sender of the message. Her son had taken his life that morning, he had sent a few text messages to a handful of people before his final act and she was in the process of ringing each of them.

She was in bereaved state of mind, still in shock and in search of answers. I could only offer my condolences and ears as she told me about her son. She asked me if he had reached out to me before, I could not recall if he had. She told me about her son. He had not been in Adelaide for a few years, having moved interstate for a job that he had always wanted which had not turned out as ideal as he had once hoped. He had met a girl, fallen in love, then it seems they broke up. She told me about his last few years since leaving Adelaide, he had never quite settled in the new city.

In telling me about her son, she was looking for answers, trying to learn why he would take his life. I could not offer her any. In fact, even to this day, I do not remember who her son was. I have no face to the name or recollection of anyone to match his description. I could not tell her this, so I listened and responded as best as I could. We spoke for around fifteen minutes. The other people that he had messaged that morning were as shocked to learn that he had taken his life. Each unable to give her any answer to, why?

A young man, lost, agitated and overwhelmed by life took his life, and in the moments before the grim finality of his decision I had received a text message. I could not offer his mother any more insight into why he would do this, let alone gift her with any knowledge about her son. I simply do not remember him. I truly regret that. I feel ashamed that I can’t remember a person who would send me a message while they are inside a chasm of intimate peril.

Receiving drunk messages or those from tormented minds is not uncommon for many of us, especially if we are in a coaching role. And at times a sad mind crosses our path, we may not realise just how sad or we can see the darkness for all that it is with every interaction. How we navigate such awareness is unique to to each of us. We may also come across many in our time as a coach, human, that we may leave an impact on them, while forgetting who they were. As rare as this may be, it unfortunately happens.

I have pondered my inability at remembering who he was, annoyed that I am unable to visualise, to invoke even a morsel of a memory. I regret my lack of recollection that could not console or fill any gaps for his bereaving mother. I regret not replying to the text when it first arrived. Above all I regret that he made a terminal decision that has hurt those who loved and knew him most.

A young man takes his own life, another lost spirit in the sea of misery, an unknown number of others have made such a decision that either led to a near miss or the fatal outcome. On that night, the unknown number of a face that I can not recall perhaps reached out or simply said thanks to those in the distance, too far to prevent his decision. Rest in peace and may your demons rest with you.

While I may not recall who they were in life, his family does. His mother who trembled with her words as she spoke about her beautiful boy will never forget him. As much as he may have felt that a once familiar stranger was a light house in a storm, there were those closer to home that could have helped, least of all replied to the text message. In the fog of his darkness he thought and felt what he did, leading to the conclusion that he reached. I have since saved his name and number into my contact list, though unfortunately I shall never hear from him again. Regretfully, neither shall his Mum.

March, 2024

Published inAll Articles and EssaysMiscellaneousPhilosophy, Society and LibertyUncategorized