This had not been a good two weeks for me, reminded of the fragility of life, how unexpectedly it is lost. Previously I had written about my introduction to stoicism, being very much a work in progress with that. Stoics are not usually effected as much by negative emotions and I was cut to the bone during this time. It started with a missing person, a birthday, and a lesson in leadership.
My wife and I attend an inclusive church that has a large deaf congregation, the pastor of that we meet with often. After this meeting discussing volunteering and taking over a ministry, we had a counseling session that ended in a story on rules of dating. I joked her husband was lucky to have met the primary rule about driving…hours later I learned he disappeared while working.
In the middle of these two weeks while the search was on, my godson’s birthday/memorial party was planned complete with little cupcakes, and homemade birthday cards attached to helium balloons to bring them to him, symbolically speaking. A nice idea that helps them feel better, yet for me it does not take much of anything reminding me of him to trigger a flashback or getting to me. Surrounded by all the reminders at the party my mood fell quickly, I was not looking forward to it, similar to Christmas.
Before it started even, while at home, I had a flashback, and just about every picture I saw at the party triggered another and another. I just stood off to myself with a throbbing pain inside, my wife noticing and asking if I was all right.
No,…I was not all right.
Both of us felt out of place, alienated, and still not completely forgiven; enduring little passive-aggressive jabs. The scab that had formed over the wound picked off and sprinkled with salt. The anger was unexpected yet understandable; however as soon as I could I left.
Close to tears when I got home, I examined the autopsy report that was sitting on my shelf, closure or self-torture, I am not sure. Just quietly read it, looked up the medical terms and remembered the last thing I heard. The party was not much of a party for me, certainly did not feel like a celebration of a life lived to me. I retreated into my head away from the reminders that stoke the fires of my personal hell. I remember everything from the day he died, and where others see pictures of a happy boy complete with fond memories I see his violent death when I found him.
So fuck anyone toying with that feeling, do not let anyone manipulate any negative feelings you have and push you towards the brink, even if you feel you deserve it. I live every day with the thought of him dying on my watch and the depth of guilt it brings. It wears on you so much you consider not living with it at all.
Only two others knew this, and it was after the fact, that I had considered killing myself. I had sunk to that level of the abyss. I did not advertise, it was not a cry for help, just a cold consideration of deciding if I deserved to be on this planet anymore. However, I could not do that to my wife and others, and reminders of the grief surrounded me after a sudden death. No wonder Stoic philosophy is appealing to me.
Coming up for air after that I was reminded how fleeting life is when they found our friend. He had not survived the plane crash when he disappeared. Two weeks prior I had seen him standing in the front row clapping and singing along; later talking about the big play set he had built for his son while his boy swung on his arm.
One minute he was there, gone the next, leaving the reminder that eventually it happens to us all. Tempered with seeing how this brings people together, personal growth and examples of leadership I saw something to strive for when I am put in the same position. Happens surprisingly often, the same day we got the news two separate people reached out to me for help. Something to think about…
If you are thinking about suicide please get ahold of someone or contact http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/