I debated if I should write something about Bob the Squirrel turning 12. It wasn’t that much of a debate really…it was just me talking to myself.
Which is essentially how I create Bob the Squirrel.
In squirrel years, a 12 year old squirrel would have already been dead for 7-9 years.
Did I ever tell you about the time that this squirrel saved my life? I may have alluded to it, but I don’t think I ever went into detail.
It was 2007. I was having a lot of problems. I was confused. I was miserable and just assumed that I would always be miserable. I was in a marriage I was too much of a chicken to say I didn’t want. I was at a crossroads with the strip, then a very young 5 years old. Lots of other things were not going my way.
I was confused.
I felt trapped.
I didn’t let anyone know how deep in the hole I was. Why? For the same reason why I never told my mother about how bad I was bullied in junior high school. Back then I’d repeat to myself, “Just take the hits Frank, you’ll get through it. They can’t possibly keep hitting you forever, right?”
Fighting back is impossible when the bully and the bullied are both you.
In all the years of being bullied in school, thoughts of suicide were always just out of my realm. I never considered it then, but I knew it was an option.
This time, there was consideration.
Suicide is selfish. One of the most selfish things one human could do to those that love them.
Well, I was there. I was a coward. I wanted out. I wanted out the easy and quick way.
Looking back on this now, it truly disgusts me that I let myself get that far. That being said, I am not ashamed to talk about this. Not. At. All.
I wasn’t going to say anything to anyone, I was just going to go. Again, I didn’t tell anyone how bad I was…but, I’m sure my demeanor at the time (around May 2007) was decidedly dark.
Just as I was ready to go, I had one last thought: How would I update the strip?
I’d read accounts of people being on the verge of suicide only to be pulled back by something small and simple. Prior to my experience, I thought those stories were made-up, trite bull.
But completely true.
My entire world was falling apart under my own gravity and my thought was: “How am I going to update the strip?” My life wouldn’t be the only one I’d be ending. If I was going, so was Bob.
A talking, wise-ass, cartoon squirrel saved my life.
That’s not to say that once this realization hit me it went from prunes to plums for me. I still had a ton of personal things to work out. A few days after the realization, I made the decision to walk away from the marriage and life I’d built.
The only things I took with me from that life were my clothes, computer, drawing board and Bob. I may have hurt a lot of people by doing this, but staying wouldn’t have worked either.
It’s not easy to start all over. Trust me.
I made the decision to deal with starting over in the strip itself. Drawing it all out was better for me than any intensive therapy ever could be. Sharing it with my readers was even more of a help. No one knew that I was contemplating ending it all, only that I was ending my marriage. I got many wonderful emails from fans willing to extend their virtual shoulders to me to cry on. All because of a squirrel.
Since then, I’ve bought a house:
got my Master’s degree:
and added years to both my life and Bob’s. I’ve found the love of the most beautiful woman in the world (soon to be my wife):
the joy of owning the craziest and most insane dog in the world:
things I never would have had if Bob wasn’t there to talk me off that ledge.
So, as Bob the Squirrel spends his last year as a pre-teen, I look forward to all the other future things he’s afforded me.
Happy Birthday dude.