On the morning of Sunday, August 12, 2012, my old friend from college, Josh Rittenberg, took his own life.
The last time I hung out with Josh was right before Melissa and I moved up to the San Francisco Bay Area a year ago. He and I hung out for quite awhile, got to play cards, talk, and genuinely just got to hear about each other’s lives. We went on a walk to a 7-11 about a mile or two away and he told me about a graduate school program he was applying for and how he hoped he might get back together with his girlfriend whom he had recently broken up with. He seemed hopeful though a bit down, but he was ready to get his life on track – at least it seemed that way to me.
My wife got a job up in Los Altos, CA for the 2011-2012 school year so at the end of the summer of 2011 we very quickly had to move. The day before we moved I saw Josh again for one last goodbye. I didn’t know it would be the last time I’d get to see him, at least in this lifetime. He showed me his brand new motorcycle and told me how excited he was to get to ride along with his younger brother Roy. We talked about him eventually coming up to visit and how much fun it would be to hang out again.
The next day Melissa and I moved and I’m ashamed to say I never even called Josh again. Life filled up, time passed, and I just never got around to it. I may have messaged him here or there on Facebook but I really didn’t give it much thought. The last time of real contact with Josh was the hug I gave him right before he popped his helmet on and rode off on his motorcycle. The hug was extra long and tight, the kind you give a brother you haven’t seen in a long time. He seemed almost mournful at that moment, like he might never get to see me again.
Josh had issues, like any of us, but I had no idea that they would lead to something like this. I barely spoke with him at all in the last year and it breaks my heart that this happened.
Please keep his family and girlfriend in your thoughts and prayers. As devastating as this is for me, I know it must be a hundred times more so for them.
Rest in peace, my friend.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1.800.272.8255