Monday, December 23, 2013

In Memoriam: Ned Vizzini

"Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light."
Matthew 11:28-30

Two obituaries in a week isn't fun.  This one's personal.  Ned Vizzini was our best friend in nursery school.  We've known him since we were two years old.  He died by his own hand last Thursday in Brooklyn.

To most people, Ned was a celebrated author.  He wrote four critically acclaimed novels.  His largely autobiographical 2006 release, It's Kind of a Funny Story, was the basis for the 2010 film by the same name.  For those who've seen the movie, the character Craig was Ned's self-portrait:

Cahnman's Musings last saw Ned in March 2011.  He visited Austin to speak during SxSW.  He stayed at our house for three days.  We had no idea that would be the last time we saw him.  We last spoke by telephone during the 2012 presidential election.

Describing Ned as an adult, we concur with this description from Kyle Buchanan:
It hit me like an electric shock last night to find out that my friend, the writer Ned Vizzini, took his own life in New York yesterday at age 32. He was one of the most enthusiastic, vibrant people I knew; his classic YA novel It's Kind of a Funny Story (which was adapted into a film in 2010) was based on Ned's own stay in a psychiatric hospital after he was gripped by suicidal thoughts in his early twenties, but that still doesn't make it any easier to believe that those feelings bested him now, because when I think of Ned, I think of that happy, crooked smile that you barely had to coax out of him.
Where Kyle knew Ned as an adult, we knew him primarily as a young child.  We attended the same New York City pre-school.  As five year olds, we used to play a game: who could sit in a running clothes' dryer the longest.  Cahnman's Musings always won.  This probably does not surprise regular readers.

That's our best Ned Vizzini story.  We also remember Ned's infections love of maps.  As a four year old, Ned gave us a lesson on the geography of Texas, which is pretty ironic in hindsight.

In the late 1980's, Ned moved from Manhattan to Brooklyn.  We lost touch for the next decade and a half.  We resumed contact in the early to mid 2000's.  As a closet conservative in the publishing industry (and later Hollywood), sometimes Ned needed a place to vent.  We filled that role.


Unfortunately, all of the above is vanity.  To our knowledge, Ned wasn't a believer.  Readers who understand the Bible know what that means.

Here's the real tragedy: whatever pain Ned was suffering, Jesus already bore it.  That's the whole point of the Cross.  Because Ned committed suicide, we can't help dwelling on Lacey Sturm's testimony:

The scripture quoted above is the most important for anyone in Ned's position to consider, but the Psalmist also writes:
"Cast your burden on the Lord, 
And He shall sustain you; 
He shall never permit the righteous to be moved."
Psalm 55:22
 And the Apostle Peter:
[C]asting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you....But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. 
1 Peter 5:7...10
Suffering in this world is temporary.  If there's one lesson from Ned's death, it's the transience of this world, compared to the permanence of eternity.  Entering eternity, absent a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, is a really bad way to 'relieve' temporal pain.


Cahnman's Musings hasn't spoken to Ned's family in a quarter-century.  We've never met his wife or son.  We ask readers to keep them in your prayers.

Ned Vizzini, 1981-2013, Rest in Peace.


  1. I hope he was carried to heaven in the arms of the angels, for he suffered so here on earth.
    Bless your friend Ned, his family and you Adam.

  2. Sorry for your loss. I understand your feelings for your friend's situation. I was comforted concerning my father death when I recalled two Christian classmate reminding me 30 years before that I was not the judge and that a person I was then grieving because I believed them not to be a Christian" was now "in the hands of a just God and our own understanding or lack of understanding will another's personal relationship with God and decisions regarding eternity is not ours to judge or carry as a burden. We rejoice that an all knowing just God decides . I hope your classmate and friend, Ned did find peace. I pray that those living, don't waste the free gift you mentioned -- "a personal relationship with Jesus Christ."


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