In Memory of Stephane

Marten Weber

Marten Weber is of mixed parentage (a man and a woman) and has lived in more countries than he can count on hands and feet together. He speaks several languages, and believes in multiculturalism, tolerance, and free champagne in economy class. He is the author of the best-selling 'biography' of Casanova's gay brother Benedetto, dealing with the lives, the lust, and the adventures of men. www.martenweber.com

Stephane killed himself in March. He left behind a wife and two children. The newspaper said the suicide was totally unexpected. “Stephane was a successful lawyer, a devoted family father, and active member of his church. He will be truly missed.”

Last week I received an email, and then a call from his widow.
—I found you on the Internet. I wonder if you know why my husband killed himself.

Life plays these games with us. I asked her why she thought I should know.

Over 24 years ago. Stephane and I had a brief schoolboy romance. After graduation we drove to a lake together, shared a bottle of wine, and sat by the pier at midnight. It was one of those moments in life, when you know you hit on something great, something promising, which will never have the opportunity to blossom. I remember him in my arms, saying “I wish time could stop and we could always stay here.”

Time didn’t stop. We went separate ways. I had no contact with Stephane in all those years, except for a letter I wrote him a few months later from university.

Curiously enough, his widow found this letter amongst his possessions. She put two and two together. She needed to know.

I told her what I knew: nothing. I have no idea if Stephane was gay or not. All we did was hang out for a few weeks, and kiss by a lake.

—But it’s possible, she insisted. It’s possible!

Yes, it is entirely possible. It is entirely possible that Stephane, from a traditional Christian household, stuck in a provincial town, never had the courage to leave and discover who he really was. It is possible that he denied himself the opportunity to find out. It is possible that despite his successful career, his lovely wife, his beautiful children, he was always miserable, sad, and alone.

I don’t know, and I will never know. What I know is this: despite all our progress, far too many men are still leading lives like Stephane. Lives which seem to work out well for a while, until the sadness and the burden of having to hide your true identity become too much.

—What exactly did I write in the letter? I asked her.

The last paragraph of the letter reads:

“I’ve had the most wonderful time with you. I will always remember that night by the lake. I think I know what you are going through. If you ever need to talk, call me. Let’s stay in touch. Good luck!”

We didn’t stay in touch. He never called me. I never called him. And now he is dead.
Life plays these games with us.

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