A couple of weeks ago, a friend and I were going to attend the Arts Festival together. He had a wake later that evening for a friend and neighbor, so we were just going to spend a couple of hours enjoying the exhibits, performances, food, and music.
Instead, we got chatting and drinking with the neighbor who’d lost her boyfriend to suicide. His best friend stopped by and shared a few drinks and memories with us, and I felt like I really came to know this person. The girl brought out a book of his poetry, some really good stuff, profound and wicked. He had such a turn of phrase! I said, more than once, that I felt like I’d met him. They painted such a clear image of his particular brand of hard, sardonic living. I had a sense of his voice, his presence: Unmistakable, messy, original, intelligent.
Mostly, I regretted that this woman, whom I’d come to really enjoy and hoped to further a friendship with, had to be the one to find him. I let her know that I wanted to see her again. She was such a bright, interesting, and vivacious girl.
“I don’t mean to insert myself in your grief,” I told her, “but I so enjoy your company. I’d love to hang out again, whatever that looks like. If you need to scream and rage, I’m not afraid of that. If you just want to take a stroll and get out of your thoughts, I’m in.”
She agreed, but you know how that it.
“Whatever you do, just don’t isolate,” I asked her. “And thank you for sharing him with me. I feel like I’ve met him. I’m so sorry for his pain, and yours.”
We skipped the Arts Festival, drinking instead on the court until they left for the wake and I went home with a DVD from this gal. I’ve had it for 2 weeks and wanted to reassure her that I hadn’t forgotten. I messaged my buddy today that I’d love to get together again and pass the time, and I’d bring that movie.
He was sorry to tell me that she’d joined her fiance, the same way.
I can’t believe how I feel. I feel like the wind’s been knocked out of me. I didn’t know him, and I didn’t know her, really, just spent a few hours. But it hurts my heart.
Today, I wish to remind us all to tend very carefully to ourselves. Mental illness is real. It hurts so much, and one is never out of danger. I spent the bulk of my 20s occupied by suicidal ideation, outcries, and 2 dangerous attempts. I think, having gotten to the other side of it, I’d come to believe that it’s a young person’s problem. No. We die at any age, of any illness, and we must care for who we are, as we are. Wow. I’m just really, really sad. I ache for them. I’ve been telling these 2 strangers for the last several hours that I’m glad they’re in that beautiful place of only love, together, relieved of sorrow, and able to continue learning without the burdens and heaviness of Earth life. But I’m just so sad.
To think how much someone has to hurt to do that. I’m sad for unbearable pain.
Life is so precious and fleeting. Be kind to yourself and others.
Before I met this woman I’d never heard the term, “in my cups,” when referring to drinking, especially of the drowning variety. It so amused and delighted me, and painted such an amiable, tragic picture of the delicious, deceptive nature of alcoholic seduction, I felt as though I could hear this character’s voice. He was very much a character, a writer and storyteller, too, who performed his stories and even regular conversation, as I do.
I’m currently reading a fiction novel. Well, since this man and woman took their lives, twice the main character in this book has referred to getting “in her cups.” I found it curious, at first, nothing more. Just that phenomenon when you’re introduced to a word or concept for the first time and then find it everywhere. But then I about fell over when I remembered that this main character’s brother was an alcoholic who killed himself. THEN… the brother who died, I realized, had the SAME NAME as this man who committed suicide less than a month ago! So I’m absolutely flipping out when I realized that the main character’s name is the same as the woman’s! I mean, come on! That’s too much!
I feel connected to them. I’m not sure what to make of such massive compounding coincidence. There’s nothing I could have done. I didn’t even know them.
Maybe it’s just them confirming that they are there, and they are safe, and out of pain.
Maybe it’s nothing. (Of course, you know I can’t think that.)
Maybe it’s just gob-smacking WOW.
I’m glad I didn’t die by suicide. I recommit myself to that now, even though it feels unnecessary to publicly declare it. I feel like these strangers are reminding me what a gift life is and to be vigilant about our health and the choices we make. I invite all who suffer in that way to make a similar vow not to die by your own hand. Perhaps start an “other options” list or a log of things to love and live for, so that when you invariably fall back into the pain, as we do, you’ll remember that it will pass. Because it does. Do be gentle. Life is hard, and painful, and precious, and beautiful.
Choose happy. It is a choice. Choose it again and again, every time. When you fail, choose it as soon as you’re back on track and able. If you can’t choose happy in the moment, be patient and know that the time will come that you’ll be glad you trusted yourself and your beautiful determination and strength, and your RIGHT to be joyful, and got yourself to the other side of suffering one more to time to choose happy again.