Life, Death & Gratitude

A few weeks ago, I heard about a local young man who had been having difficulties in his relationship with his father.  He committed suicide at the age of 28 by shooting himself in the mouth.  A few days ago, a local woman whose 8-year old son had been suffering from an undefined illness for a few weeks was not feeling well Saturday night. She got into bed with him and held him, dozing finally as she comforted him.  After a short nap, she awoke to find that her child had died in her arms.  I understand the depth of despair that young man felt in order for him to take his own life; I cannot imagine the depth of despair one feels at having one’s child die in your arms.  These tragic deaths of these two young people give me pause and require quiet reflection.

Having struggled for the better part of this year and last, and sometimes still struggling, with my own thoughts of suicide, I am reminded daily of the fragile nature of life. A friend said to me yesterday, “I cannot imagine anything in your life so horrible, that it’s worth you being taken away from me.”  The underlying message being, of course, that although life is hard each and every day, my life has meaning to a lot of people and that no matter what types of hell I may be going through, the loss to my family and friends would be devastating.

Dad & me

Several weekends ago, my family celebrated the 70th birthday of my beloved father.  I wrote what was meant to be a toast and token of my love for him.  What I read aloud was a small portion of what I actually wrote because I could barely get through those few words, my voice cracking with emotion. I gave him the note to read at a later time. The next morning he wrote to thank me for my love letter to him and I cried with the full realization of how much my father and I love each other and sadness that it’s taken me 48 years to come to that realization.

I spent Thanksgiving weekend with friends and family and the joy and gratitude I felt for the support and love they blanket me in was again overwhelming at times. My niece called me her favorite aunt which made me smile. She sat on my lap and we had conversations more advanced than a 4 year old child should be having. She was born with Arthrogryposis Multiplex Congenita, a rare congenital disorder characterized by stiff joints and abnormal muscle development. She wears braces to help her walk but let me tell you, her physical disability doesn’t hold her back in any way.  She’s sweet and funny and smart as hell and I love that I can have smart, witty conversations with her, laugh with her and tell her how much I love her. She is one brave little girl surrounded by a lot of love, much like the aunt who loves her dearly.

While my marriage is dying a slow, agonizing death and my career has stalled and is taking a nose dive and all my worldly possessions have been stolen by a man who promised to love me forever, no one whom I love has died. Life could be so much worse.  But we all still have each other and find a lot of joy in loving each other. I am learning to hold my head up and I’m learning what matters most in life: cherish the people who love you and whom you love; help them out when they need it without judgment; let people cry when they need to while quietly holding them and tell them how much they really mean to you. And when life gets unbearable, don’t focus on your losses, count your joys. I am sorry for the young boy who won’t grow to be a young man and for the young man who won’t grow to be an old man. I am empathetic to the losses their families feel and I hope they find peace and love in time. I’m grateful to a little girl whose bravery is a road sign for my daily life.

Phoebe & me


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