June 9, 2018

Remembering Bourdain

If you or anyone you know is considering suicide or self-harm, or is anxious, depressed, upset, or needs to talk, call Crisis Services Canada at 1-833-456-4566 or text them at 45645. For international resources, please check out this page.

I’m no stranger to depression. I’ve lived with a piggyback guy for the majority of my life, on and off medication. I’ve attempted suicide, and I’ve been close to attempting more times than I can remember. It is an insidious, debilitating disease—even though I am high functioning,” it affects me, it cripples me, daily.

The deaths by suicide of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain this week were troubling, sad, surprising, but ultimately, not entirely shocking. It is always those who are strongest, those who bear the darkness of the world so that the lives of others can be bright, that struggle the most with that darkness.

Bourdain and Spade brought joy and light and brilliance; we didn’t see the darkness that sat behind that luminescence. We need to be better at acknowledging that darkness, that struggle; we need to validate it, care for it, and understand that it affects so many of us, every single day.

Bourdain’s suicide was particularly hard to grapple with last week, and I’ve been trying to figure out why. Maybe it was because he was so universally beloved; maybe it was because he always showed us that life was worth living.

Over the past few decades, people have often asked me how I’m able to connect with people so easily, to develop such close relationships with people around me, even strangers. I respond quickly: I am infinitely curious.

Maybe that’s why Bourdain’s suicide was so hard to process: if anything, Anthony Bourdain also exemplified this infinite curiosity. Maybe I am still finding it hard to grapple with his death because I see so much of him in me.

Maybe that’s why so many of us are taking it so hard: we see so much of him in ourselves. For some, like me, it’s in the unending curiosity for others. For others, it’s in his love of travel, of food; his way of speaking the truth while still being universal, or his desire to have fun through exploration. We see ourselves in him, and him in our own characters. We mourn for his loss, and we wonder what that means about ourselves, too.

I didn’t know Anthony Bourdain personally; my interaction has been with his work, his character. The best remembrances are from those that knew the man. Some of my favorite remembrances are below:

From President Barack Obama:

From Shivana Sookdeo:

From Helen Holmes:

From Yashar Ali:

From Allison F.:

From Imraan Siddiqi:

From Khushbu Shah:

From Eve Ewing:

From Tyler Johnson:

From Rachael Berkey:

From Andray Domise:

From Maura Johnston: