hope writing

Very Simple Words

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A young person whom I love dearly tried to kill herself the day before yesterday. She wasn’t kidding around. It was her first attempt and she nearly succeeded. Family found her and revived her but she was nearly gone for good.

As controversial as this may be to say, I do believe that people have a right to decide when their life is just too much for them. And they have a right to choose whether they ~ and ONLY they ~ will have to live it. It isn’t right or fair or even humane sometimes for us to apply our Pollyanna views on what their life is or isn’t; and how much they should have to endure. That’s my opinion.

Speaking from experience, the problem with depression is the insidious way it isolates the one suffering. Sometimes the inner quiet is good and gives that person time to reflect and make the necessary changes to a better path forward. More often, however, it serves to reinforce that he or she is the only one who has ever felt the way they do. Not true. Plenty have. Myself included.

Knowing my own history with depression, the family reached out to me and asked me to come speak with her. Depression is a special kind of pain that is impossible to understand if you have never felt it and, thankfully, the family knew this and sought help. As I drove there I wrestled with my personal opinions and how to be true to myself and fair to her future at the same time. I arrived at the need to give tempered honesty which is exactly what I did.

I listened to her. Her shame for putting her family through what she did. Her sadness for failing in her attempt. Her dread about the upcoming days. There wasn’t much to say in these particularly painful moments other than to simply hold her hand and listen. And when she was done and a pregnant pause filled the room, I knew it was my turn.

I wanted her to know that I’m not full of shit. I wanted her to know that I do understand the feelings she is having. But, I wasn’t sure how to prove it. So, I simply reached into my history and pulled out a poem that I wrote myself when I felt that way.

That Moment

Gently I rouse
As the sun blesses my cheek
And I stretch
Reaching outward. Feeling…

The weight of the blankets
(Keeps me warm)
The lightness of thought
(Keeps me sheltered)

For that moment
I inwardly smile
Looking forward to something not yet known.
Certain of something brilliant to come.

And as quickly as that moment arrives
It also passes as it did the day before.
And I wake more fully
To remember who I am. Thinking…

No warmth.
No shelter.
No promise.
Just me.

~CAL, 2004

I realize it isn’t e.e.cummings or even Shel Silverstein but, whatever it is, is made sense to her. She started to sob and admitted that she didn’t think there was another person on the planet who understood what she was feeling. She was sure she was entirely alone to fight this beast. My very simple words assured her she is not.

This morning I am finding purpose in those dreadful years of depression that I myself suffered and I am thankful for my ability to write questionable ‘poetry’ during that time. This is why, today, she feels less alone in the world and is carrying a sliver of hope.

All things considered, I would bear that burden again ~ for her.

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