A cruel joke

On very rare occasions, you get a phone call during which, as the person speaks to you, you think “That’s a cruel and silly joke for someone — especially an adult — to play on me.” And then, seconds later, you realize the cruel joke isn’t the phone call, it’s the fact that a young man, someone you’ve known your whole life, suddenly died, leaving everyone stunned and breathless.

This young man, the one who died, wasn’t someone I was very close to, but he was an integral part of my life, on and off, for decades. He was a troubled soul who struggled valiantly against his own demons, and who was never anything but quiet and gentle on those rare occasions when I saw him. It turns out that, while his spirit never gave up, his heart finally gave out.

I’m sad for myself, I’m sad for his friends and family, and I’m very sad for one young man who had so much potential, but could never realize it.


6 Responses

  1. I’m so very sorry for your loss, BW.

  2. My sister-in-law’s uncle was found in the river on Sunday. He too, gave up on life. Two years earlier, my husband’s cousin, born on the same day as my husband, took his own life on Christmas day. My children have been to a few funerals for their peers who, for one reason or another couldn’t continue with living. These were kids who had everything, and they were looked-up to by the rest of the school. Overachievers. And yet, not satisfied at the age of 16, with all of their own accomplishments, they took what they had and flung it in the faces of those who loved them, of God who granted them talent and looks and privilege. On the one hand, I can sympathize with the one whose life is utter despair and beset by demons on every front. On the other hand, I cannot fathom the nihilism that pervades the thinking of society today. I fear the reckless nihilistic spirit in my own kids. I fear the spirit of despair in myself, sometimes. There was a time twenty years ago, when I would have looked down on the one who gave up as a coward and ingrate, but seeing myself here, now, with a child facing her own seemingly insurmountable problems, I do not have that luxury. I feel helpless as a newborn in this regard.

  3. BW, May you and your friend know God’s peace.

  4. How odd. I am occasionally amazed at how circular life is.

    I haven’t been here for the last month or so, because on July 30th my phone rang, with a detective from the Fort Lauderdale police on the other end of the line.

    My younger brother got very bad news from the doctors last November, told no one on this earth, (all this is pieced together from conversations with the docs), and very quietly set about getting his life in order. He spent the last six months selling off properties left and right (accepting losses in excess of two million dollars) to rid his estate of leases, mortgages, tax fights, tenant fights, etc. and leave it as neat as possible. The pain prescriptions he left behind boggle the mind, but when he got to the point where he’d lost forty pounds in fifty days, having seen both our parents die of cancer (took too long, hurt too much) he took control of the situation.

    He lined the floor of his bedroom closet with pillows, stepped inside, and put two (two!) bullets into his heart. He was 53, and had been divorced for seven years, so no wife or kids to leave scarred.

    Wherefore I’ve been in Florida for the last month. And wondering, a bit. I don’t promise that, faced with the same situation, I wouldn’t do the same. In fact I suspect I probably would. Can’t know ’till you get there.

    What an odd summer it’s evidently been for some of us.

    Book, Jauhara – Vale to you both.

  5. I am so sorry, JJ. What a great tragedy. I understand the choice your brother made, but it strikes me as particularly sad for both of you that his decision deprived you of the opportunity to say your farewells.

    Closure is a word overused to the point of cheapness, but there is a core of truth to it, which usually boils down to the wish that we could have told those who died how much we loved and valued them. A friend of mine, a dry, non-emotive mid-Westerner, decided when his parents hit 75 that he would tell them weekly that he loved them or describe to them something he admired about them. His decision proved to be a good one, for both died before they reached 80 — and he had no regrets over things left unsaid.

    My thoughts are with you. What a difficult summer this must have been.

    Jauhara, my condolences to you, too, for your loss. I gather that your situation is closer to mine, where the person who died was a part of your life, but not close to you. There greatest tragedy isn’t our own loss, it’s the end to a life that was never fulfilled. As it happened, the young man about whom I spoke didn’t commit suicide (or, at least, we think at this point that he didn’t), but it’s very likely that the drugs he took to control the mental illness that enslaved him hastened his end.

  6. Life often brings us sadness. May it also bring peace.

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