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50 Fucks Given: #42

Giving a fuck on my dead friend's birthday

By Laura GentlePublished 4 months ago 10 min read

February 9th was the 2nd Annual JJP Memorial Day, also known as: my friend Jon’s 34th birthday. The reason for the 50 Fucks project season. This Fuck is complex, personal, and has a great movie connection.

Usage and intent

It is impossible to use “fuck me” in a sentence without sounding suggestive. I’ve tried, for weeks. There’s no way to use this expression, no matter how subtle, funny or weird, without a double meaning of literal fucking. So, yes, Fuck Me can mean sex.

However, this Fuck expression means a lot more than that. It’s a complicated and timely variation for today—a tricky day of remembrance for people who love the human this 50 Fucks Given project was started for.

Let’s take a look at common use meaning.

Surprise, disgust, frustration, or outrage can quickly be expressed with this variation. Drop something, see roadkill, get bad news, or simply watch the news? A swift “Fuck Me!” is a quality choice. When you hear this expression in public, those are typically the reasons why. Unless you’re at a bar, or in a red light district.

Then, there’s love, but it doesn’t mean fucking. In this sense, actual love—messy expectations and emotions, long-term commitment through ups and downs, and Oxytocin-bonding adoration of another human. That’s love.

While fucking does make more humans, fucking is not love. Sex with someone you’re in love with isn’t really “making love,” but instead, communicating it. The love already existed before pants flew off. Just as love can exist without pants ever flying off.

Most love in the world is non-sexual.

A lot of love has nothing to do with physical contact at all. You can love someone/thing without ever touching it. People love public figures they’ll never meet, art they’ll never see in person, and musicians long dead. Truly hopeless fucks love money more than anything else.

Humans love a lot of things, but love is in its prime when applied toward each other. While experiencing love is universal, losing it is always a unique journey.

Fuck me, I’m sad

It feels outrageously unjust when someone you love is taken away. Beyond heartbreak when they choose to permanently leave the world. There’s no quick or correct way to process the loss of suicide. Like all grief, it takes time, and heaping loads of compassionate reflection.

There’s no obituary for my friend Jon, which isn’t atypical when someone ends their life. Sudden death always brings questions—What happened? Were they sick?, etc. It’s a lot easier to explain someone had a massive coronary than it is to explain a chosen death. In addition to the emotional turmoil, suicide is difficult to navigate for relatives handling the variety of tasks that must be addressed when someone dies.

While I sympathize with the challenges families face, it has never felt right that Jon publicly disappeared with no explanation of what happened to him. He knew a lot of people, many of whom loved him dearly. When he went missing last year, phones started to buzz around the country and across the world in an effort to find him.

Great memories with a fantastic human

Our friend phone tree ended when an employee at the hotel Jon was last staying verified his death. They told us they didn’t think it was right that none of his friends seemed to know he was permanently gone. I’m so grateful to that person for doing the right thing.

With a name, birthday and location, we found the coroner’s report, confirming our worst fears with detailed specifics. I will never forget how much it hurt staring at that report, desperately wishing it weren’t true. That’s not how loved ones should find out about a suicide.

Even if a public service isn’t held, obituaries are important because they communicate that someone is not missing, but gone. There is a long and tragic history of gay men dying in silence. I have never accept that as being Jon’s fate. He was too wonderful to simply fade away. Other friends agree, and we know that he would want us to remember and celebrate his life.

An unofficial obituary was given one year ago today at Jon’s birthday memorial, put together by his friends. If I had fuck-you money, I’d have written his name in the sky of every city where someone loved him. He was a really special human, and his life was important to many people because he had a wonderful heart.

He also possessed a wicked sense of humor, always taking sarcasm and wit to the next level. He’d crack a gallows joke and nervously laugh, like he was waiting to be stuck down by lightning. Then, build it up with even more twisted one-liners.

Jon could make you laugh until it hurt. Because he knew what it meant to really hurt, humor was absolutely his love language. His fondness and comfort with others was measured in laughs.

Fuck me gently with a chainsaw.

“If you kill yourself, we can’t watch Heathers together.” That’s what we use to say to each other, half kidding, half not. Dark comedy was our bond, and Heathers was one of our feel-good movies.

A heavy satire about culture, popularity, murder and suicide at a late ‘80s high school. There is no way in hell this film would get a green light today, for several glaring reasons, none more than the school violence.

I’ve watched this movie with people born in the ‘80s who had never seen it, and sometimes the response is repulsion that it’s one of my favorite movies. A lot of the born in the ‘90s and 2000s folks prefer the musical. I don’t know who the show is targeted at, but not me, because I’m a puritan on this content.

Everybody deals with trauma differently, and dark humor is a huge relief to many. I’m one of them. I need humor to get through the heavy shit. If I stop laughing for too long, I am completely fucked. The majority of people close to me handle life similarly. Jon was a prince in the land of trauma humor, and it worked as a coping tactic for a long time.

Until it didn’t.

And now we can’t watch Heathers together ever again. I hate it, but I don’t hate the memories we made. I need those.

It’s important to have happiness after tragedy, and if not happiness, at least experiences that bring comfort and familiarity. Some days that’s hard to balance. I watched Heathers on Christmas Eve, when Jon left the world, and again last night for his birthday. I find it comforting because there are only happy memories attached to it. Well, not the first time I rewatched it last year, but that’s to be expected.

Grief is going to keep knocking on the door. And there’s time and space to let it in, sit down with it, and work out complex emotions. The majority of daily life and time is spent learning to live and love brokenhearted. We do this each time we lose someone we love. The more humans you care for, the more grief you’re going to juggle.

Loving people is a motherfucker.

Fuckton of grief? Fuck me.

The memorial was tough to get through, mostly functioning in shock. The tsunami of grief and silence that came after was exceptionally difficult. Obviously, I’m still here, but things got dicey. One of the lessons I learned is the importance of physical connection to grief.

Shortly before the memorial, I found a Space Needle token. Jon took so many damn selfies in front of that thing, there was no way I could not think of him. So, I carried it with me, adding to my collection of little tokens, including my traveling Buddha.

Since I was a kid, I’ve kept small objects as good luck. There’s an entire box of juju items from New Orleans. Jon and I had a juju box in our apartments, filled with drag, funny t-shirts, and underwear—don’t ask, or ask over a beer.

Tokens of hope, traveling Space Needle & Buddha

After adventuring around to visit shared friends, I decided to say goodbye to Jon in my own way. I took his token with me to South Beach, Miami for several weeks of ocean sabbatical.

Beaches at night are heaven to me. It’s people quiet, the moon is gorgeous over the water, you can put your feet in cool sand and do nothing but listen to waves crash.

That quiet time was extremely helpful in dealing with grief. So helpful, that I decided to leave Jon’s token there on the night beach, not far from where The Birdcage was filmed, another of our favorite films.

I said goodbye, and emotionally laid my friend to rest. The token was placed far enough away from the tide that someone else could find him, and carry him around on more adventures. Maybe he will help them work through some heavy shit, too.

Or maybe he got snatched up by a fucking pelican! Who knows.

Buddha at the memorial last year & today, as John the Baptist

It was about two weeks ago that my Buddha was knocked off the nightstand and became decapitated. At first I was like, “Fuck!” because a headless token is some break a mirror, seven years bad luck vibes.

After a moment, I thought about how funny Jon would find a headless hope Buddha. He would’ve said, “Glue it back on and get over it.” And I will. For now, I look at it and smile; a reminder that things can be mended and improve.

The Buddha *almost* made it through this project in tact. That counts for something, at least I’d like to think so.

50 Fucks as hopeful tokens.

The tokens helped serve as a reminder of my intentions, which are: stay alive, make positive changes, and rebuild goals. No shock the pandemic fucked up a lot of lives. Part of the problem is that the long-term impacts aren’t being fully recognized or discussed, in particular—the continued breakdown of basic necessities and public services.

I do believe that if Jon had been able to get adequate medical care, he might still be here today. Yes, he struggled with mental health for much of his life, but the pandemic pushed many people over the edge. It’s not hard to understand why.

Even with a good job and healthcare, the U.S. makes basic care damn near impossible. We live with what we have, holding on to hope that the global shitshow will at some point yield to humanity and sensible problem solving. In the meantime, the nation is collecting a growing body count from violence, suicide, and preventable illness.

All of that is why I started this project, to remember the importance of connection and humor during very difficult times. A written token for motivation. It’s why Jon’s Fuck is number 42—the answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything. Just need to figure out the perfect question to ask…

Candid moment a long time ago. Jon facing away, towards another journey.

As far as figuring out love and grief, I think Tennyson was right—it’s more meaningful to love and bear the loss than to never know. I can’t fathom how much living and laughs I would have missed out on if my path had never crossed with Jon’s.

Wonderful humans, and love, can wander into our lives at any moment. This seems to be how it happens—random and seemingly inconsequential.

Then, BAM! You love somebody.

While some love doesn’t linger long, others stay a while. A few will break your heart. None are forever. Sooner or later, someone has to go.

But love leaves traces. The sweetness of memory transcends painful partitions of absent love. A fellowship reminder encircles loss, if only for a moment, and embraces us across the vastness of time. To experience a connection that deeply with someone is special and fabulous, as was Jon.

We miss you and we love you, always.

kthxbi <3

Watch Heathers streaming on Amazon, Tubi and Roku. And remember, if you kill yourself, we can’t watch it together.


About the Creator

Laura Gentle

Copywriter, equality advocate, cancer+endo fighter. Odd Hollywood-Hillbilly Hybrid.

Learn more about me:

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