Last Friday evening Jo and I had to make a funeral visitation. A close college friend of our older son ended her life a few days before. She was an intelligent , talented, beautiful, even vivacious young woman. Without getting all clinical, which is beyond me, suffice to say she was troubled. It all came down to a moment, a flash of darkness and she was gone. The darkness. What does it take to take that last step? I know volumes have been written about it, but we still just don't know. If we knew, we could prevent it - at least more often, anyhow.
arrived at the funeral home there was a line out the door. It took the
better part of an hour and a half to finally address her parents
standing a few feet from the open casket. I've no doubt they had been
living in shock for the previous three or four days. Yet, they were almost
convivial. They also knew our son, and were pleased that we came. They
smiled, and we engaged in small talk, then we moved on to approach the
casket. As with most people who have passed, she looked like the girl we
knew and yet didn't.
There were literally hundreds of people
who passed through that funeral home that evening. There were no doubt many more
the following morning. Some were probably family friends, people who worked
for and with her father and mother, neighbors and so on, but the great
majority of the people we saw were this girl's friends, her
contemporaries. Friends from her childhood, from high school, from
college, from graduate school, from various places she had worked. She
had been a singer and actress and later a fitness trainer, among other things.
People who had performed with her and seen her perform. People with whom
she had trained. All these people. All these friends. All this family.
Yet no one had been able to get at her core, to recognize her pain, to
realize how close to the edge she had come. I don't write this as any
kind of finger pointing or condemnation. It's just the terrible conundrum of
When I first met her back in the late 1990s,
she was about eighteen, a college freshman, and full of life, had a
flashing smile and didn't seem to know a stranger. The intervening years
obviously took a heavy toll on her. How the world failed her, and how
she ultimately failed herself was hidden in the chemical imbalance that
plagued her mind.
Jo and I have now known three young people who
took their own lives. One a high school classmate of our kids, one a
family member, and now this young woman. We also lost a young family member to
the ravages of drug abuse a couple years ago. Life doles out some hard
shots. Fortunately, we manage to dodge a lot of them, but never all. I
wish these four young people had managed to dodge one more.
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