Found in a puddle of blood… a life ended by his own choosing…
Family and friends—left living
in stunned disbelief.
~ ~ ~
An unexpected death is one thing.
But an unexpected suicide produces a grief that sinks—
an iron weight, unbending—
heavily, solidly, resolutely,
to the very bottom of our souls.
And there the grief remains,
in the lowest, nethermost regions within us.
But this was not a teen suicide,
not a successful man whose business or investments crashed,
nor one deserted by those he loved.
Just a man viewing life as having passed,
having taken perhaps more than he was able to give,
leaving him to face every dawn and every dusk,
solitary, powerless, wrestling against the agony
of quiet desperation.
~ ~ ~
How many weeks, months,
had his contemplations begun taking shape?
How many incidents led up to the final incident that formed the decision:
to put an end to a suffering that would not go away?
How cunning we are at hiding our longings for another world,
a perfect world…
ever surrounded by life growing and those living,
by birthdays and anniversaries and graduations
and wedding vows and babies’ cries
and all that cries LIVE!
To rail in the face of Creation,
in allowing all hope to wither,
slowly sucking away energy, vitality, belief,
to reach a point of despair—
some of us understand the pain of loneliness,
we’ve tasted tears of abandonment, regret, gnawing guilt…
but a life ended decries the breath of God,
and leaves those who loved the one now gone
stumbling in search of answers.
~ ~ ~
After retiring from a moving company
he still found ways to help.
Bringing equipment and pads and arms still strong,
he, and two friends his age, and the Preacher drove
from California to Arizona, to load the U-Haul,
to take our family to a new place,
to start a new chapter.
Our stuff was stuffed in boxes, taped, labeled, stacked and ready.
The men showed up the night before.
Then after a good night’s sleep and breakfast,
they started hauling those boxes out the door.
It rarely rains in the desert, but on that day
He stayed dry inside the back of the truck, arranging furniture and boxes
and rocking chairs that refused to fit.
Those old guys knew how to have fun…
turned a work day into a party,
just another reason to be together, to enjoy each other’s company.
Later, once settled in our new home, a new church,
he’d shake my hand,
every Sunday, every time he saw me.
Soon those handshakes turned into hugs—big bear hugs,
silently affirming friendship, kinship.
We talked about country life, gardening, the weather…
he brought me onion seeds,
explained how they re-seed themselves…
they’re still growing in our box out back,
still reminding me of him.
But the years took their toll,
when his wife’s health deteriorated, he moved her into hospice.
Couldn’t keep up with the work on the property,
his own health declining…
not as many parties and work days filled his calendar.
But he came to church when he could.
I can still feel the kiss on my cheek from the last time I saw him,
his arms wrapped around me in a bear hug.
A couple weeks later I called to see if he wanted help with yard work,
but he didn’t,
said his son would take care of it.
We talked about a lot of things and nothing of consequence and how much we cared,
and I am so glad I called that day…
but how was I to know there was more to be said?
Could I, or you, or anyone have relieved his quiet desperation?
how were you to know how sorely you’d be missed…
or how much life still flowed from you?