“Of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these, ‘it might have been’.” Sadness that you no longer walk upon this earth washes over me. When I’m driving a familiar route or moving through mundane tasks, my conscious mind finds room to wander, and there you are. What might’ve been, what should I have seen, what could I have maybe done? All of these are academic – made moot by a rope. Why?
As long as you’re above ground there is hope. What made you give it all up? Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem – why could you not envision the light at the end of the tunnel? Where were your emotional army men? I had no idea you needed reinforcements.
True, we were not particularly close, but I looked forward to our banter, your cutting wit and keen intellect always made me laugh. You made me sharper. Maybe I should’ve told you this explicitly – maybe I could’ve, should’ve helped – I would have been honored.
If a family member commits suicide relatives are at increased risk. My uncle killed himself at age 90. He was a doctor and knew what his onerous diagnosis held for his remaining years. He blew his brains out in the bed he shared with my aunt – leaving this world in the same selfishly, abusive manner in which he lived in it. A decade later my cousin, his daughter, starved herself to death. He put suicide in his family’s DNA. That’s a heck of a legacy. It won’t be mine.
I started a suicide hotline when I was a junior in college. I was a psychology major, interning at a mental hospital – and still mourning my friend’s death from unexplained (not self-inflicted) causes the year before. I understand that the hotline still serves the Wellesley community in a different incarnation. Why can I help strangers and not friends? There are so many of us who will live our lives with a hole in our hearts because you are not here. Even though I didn’t see you often, the world was a better place with you in it. Why’d you have to leave so soon? Why? Why? Why?
Like reflux, my pain regurgitates as anger. At the world’s ills, at myself for inaction – at you for your absolute and permanent action. No mulligans can be taken, no deeper friendship fostered. Why? Why? Why?
I have no words. For you. Or for other friends and family. Only tears. But through them, I write emails to acquaintances to let them know that although our universes spin separately, I’m glad they walk upon this earth. I hope that the recipients of my missives read them in the spirit with which I write them – with hope and in the intent of connection. You are not alone. You belong above ground. With us. Here. You are valuable. You have purpose. Please, don’t go. If you leave, our lives will not be better. They will be worse. Stay. Please stay. And walk on this planet with me.
To honor you and those who remain, I promise to foster connection. I will smile at strangers, open doors for all who seek to pass my way. I will do my damnedest to make this world a more livable place. Join me. Please connect, seek help if you’re bereft. The world is better with you in it – there are so many people –professionals, friends, acquaintances and others– who want to help you navigate through your darkness. Please take our hand, don’t suffer silently. You are not alone.
CONNECT CONNECT. CONNECT.