I just said goodbye to an amazing, spirited, talented young man. I didn’t really know him so how do I know he was amazing? Because I’ve just come back from attending his funeral. Kim John Sequoia Long was 18 years old, blonde and beautiful, the only child of Viv and Tai Long, my neighbours. He took his own life while still in the first term of his law degree at Bristol University.
Shortly after I moved to Cornwall 5 years ago, my son Toby took his own life and I remember how kind Viv and Tai were to me, they hardly knew me but they sent a card and I could always rely on them to be sensitive and thoughtful. I hardly knew Kim, I used to pass him on the steps or when he was setting off for school or college. All I remember is how beautiful he was and how polite and friendly he was in these brief exchanges. He wasn’t a perfect child and met some challenges along the way which I’m sure had his parents tearing their hair out, but name me a teenage boy who hasn’t? The stories told today in his eulogy painted a picture of a highly intelligent, free-spirited boy on a wild pony ride.
It seemed he had left his troubles behind him and was on his way to a bright and promising future. So why? I know better than to ask that question. I get quite upset when people ask me why Toby took his own life, don’t they know there is no neat little explanation that will help them get their heads around it.
There it is, that’s it – there is no explanation. Even if someone does it after something bad has happened, there is still no explanation, so please don’t ever ask someone bereaved by suicide that dreaded question. Even if they leave a note explaining why, there is still no explanation. My peace has come from accepting that I will never know why Toby did what he did and I don’t believe he knew. Viv and Tai have found peace in the loving note left for them by Kim allowing them to respect his choice and honour his memory.
Some people are just too beautiful and sensitive for this world and it seems Kim Long was one of these. Old beyond his years, highly intelligent and in his short life he touched so many others, leaving something with them that will live on forever. Hearing the tributes from his Uncle, his parents, his friends and his teacher I wish I had known him. The value of a life is not measured in years and this young man certainly lived his 18 to the full and made a lasting impression on all the people his life touched along the way.
Goodbye Kim Long. Goodbye Kim Long.
One day you’ll find that I have gone
But tomorrow may rain, so I’ll follow the sun