October 18, 2023

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This is a post I have struggled with the idea of even writing. It’s been several months now and I still don’t think I have grieved or processed what happened.

Reed E. Campbell II is gone.

He died by suicide sometime in the early morning of Wednesday, October 18, 2023. His landlord sent me a Facebook message saying she had received an email from Reed (sent around 2 a.m.) stating his intention. As soon as she saw the email Wednesday morning, she called 911 for a welfare check. We talked on the phone as she awaited word from the police. But our worst fears were confirmed. Reed had timed it so that nothing could be done to stop him. By the time his landlady saw the email when she got up that morning and the police got to the house, he was already gone. I am not sure what specifically drove him to do this. He presented to me like everything was okay. His landlady sent me a screenshot of the email Reed sent which I now wish I hadn’t seen. It didn’t offer any answers; only a frank statement about how he “couldn’t go forward any longer” and a very cold list of the things he had done to leave the house so that she didn’t have a lot of work to do and so that it would as ready as possible for new tenants.

Reed had sent me a cheesecake he made for my birthday the week before. I still had a few pieces left in the refrigerator when he died. We had chatted on Monday and Tuesday of that week via Messenger. Nothing seemed really out of place with his messages. I talked to his friend, Mike, that Wednesday night. Mike indicated that Reed was struggling with his job and financial situation, which might be what influenced his decision. I don’t know for sure. I will never know.

I am surprised he did this, but also not.

Reed had struggled with mental health issues ever since I met him. In my years of knowing him, he had one “cry for help” attempt, another very serious attempt which the paramedics managed to save him from, and once when he recognized the downward spiral he was in and sought treatment before he got to the point of suicide. He seemed to be doing better with therapy and meds over the last few years, so I was hoping this would never happen. But, it did.

You know they say about hindsight. It seems like some signs were there. David and I went down to visit him (he lived two hours from us) in mid-late August for his birthday. He looked unkempt (like he wasn’t taking care of himself), the house wasn’t clean, and the yard was massively overgrown (which he said was due to the lawn mower breaking a few weeks before … but that yard had months of growth on it). A week or so after we saw him, he posted on Facebook about needing to rehome his cat. When David and I both quizzed him about this, he ignored our messages and deleted the post. So, I think he had been planning this for some time. And the Monday before he died, he sent me all his recipes via Dropbox. It wasn’t odd for him to send me files for safekeeping in case his hard drive crashed. That afternoon he kept offering tips and tricks about the recipes in case I ever wanted to make them. It weighs on my mind that he sent me those recipes and offered the cooking advice knowing what he was going to do in a few days.

I met Reed back in the late 2000s via bigmusclebears.com (a precursor to apps like Scruff and Grindr). After messaging a bit, we decided to go out on a date. He lived in Anderson, SC, and drove up to Asheville, NC for us to meet. We hit it off but, after a couple of dates, I decided he was probably going to be a little too high-maintenance. We became good friends because of our shared tastes in music, movies, design, porn, and art.

Reed was an awesome guy. He had this really snarky attitude but was super generous to his friends. He loved all things crass and offensive. His wi-fi network was named something like “Satan’s Asshole” solely to shock and offend his neighbors. He always pronounced Versace as “Versayce” because he loved Showgirls so much. Reed also loved to cook. He was always making cheesecakes for special occasions and shipping them here. He knew I loved raw biscuit dough and would send some along with the cheesecakes.

Reed’s proudest achievement was the massive library of digital music he has acquired. It was called The iTunes Ministry (originally called The iTunes Mafia). There were several of his friends (myself included) that would share music files with him and he always was sending new and interesting music out to us. I was introduced to so much cool music because of Reed.

I think I am going to stop here. I am sorry if this has been rambly and inarticulate. A few paragraphs of words will never do justice to him and his friendship with me. I thought writing about Reed would somehow lift some of the sadness but it seems to only be intensifying it. It is always hard to realize just how intertwined your life is with someone else’s after they are gone. It makes me feel like I should have been there more for him these past few years instead of being wrapped up in my own struggles with where life has gone since 2019.

There will be a service for him on Friday, March 8 in Anderson, SC.

October 18, 2023

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