I imagine each of our lives as a book, where there are many books within the book, written from different perspectives but with a common theme and plot weaving them all together, kind of like the Bible. As our lives intersect with those around us, we collaborate and contribute to each others’ stories. One might leave just a verse, others a chapter, and then there are those who are on every page in every book. All of them make up who we are, no matter how brief or long their stay.
In my story, there in one of the many Books of Dennis (my brother) is a chapter given to me by his best friend Scott. His chapter in my book isn’t long really- we only knew each other for a few months nearly a decade ago, and haven’t had much contact since. Still, I was very sad to learn that Scott left this world this morning after a long battle with pancreatic cancer.
Scott Harper was a husband, a father, an honored journalist, and a great guy. To me, he was the one who was like a brother to my brother, the one Dennis chose to find him the day he died, and the one who helped me comprehend the incomprehensible, just a little bit.
Whenever someone dies by suicide, there are so many more questions than there are answers, and on the day Dennis died I was desperate to find answers. Somehow, I managed to call the Virginian Pilot and asked for Dennis’s editor Carl. I don’t even know who I talked to, but she said Carl was out of town and she’d get in touch with someone else for me. That someone else ended up being Scott. I knew very little about what had happened that morning, and had no idea Dennis arranged a meeting with Scott, presumably so he would be the one to find him before too much time passed. During that conversation and in the days and weeks to follow, Scott was able to help me fill in some of the blanks about the final events of Dennis’s life from his perspective, and I was able to do the same for him about Dennis’s long history of depression. The unanswered questions of a suicide leave gaping holes in the narrative of a life, and talking with Scott (and others) helped us to complete the story in such a way we could find a measure of peace. Even though he hardly knew me and was dealing with his own grief, Scott was there for me to lean on in those months, generously lending a virtual ear and providing that last connection to my brother’s life. I know he was there every step of the way for Dennis, doing his best to help him right to the very end, and I am ever grateful to him for that. His time in my story was short but cherished, and I’m glad to have known him. Rest easy Scott, and may God comfort your beautiful family.