At times I indulge in the sheer warmth of gossip and self-pity. While not proud of this, it can be surprisingly comforting at times!
There is nothing like settling in before a crackling fire during a “Catastrophic” ice storm in Georgia and mulling over the injustices I’ve sustained over the past few days. A cup of mulling spices is savored while I catalogue the slings and arrows sustained from friends, family, acquaintances, and mere strangers. I am sometimes joined in my loathing by a compassionate friend who is quick to commiserate; we take turns swapping “Can you believe what so and so said, did, etc?”.
But then I take pause when considering those less fortunate. Of course it is cliché; however I can revel in my pitifulness before thankfully being rocketed back into the reality of how good my life is.
Now this sounds crass, but I’m not in a wheelchair, I’m not homeless and I don’t have a terminal illness.
One day one of these afflictions could easily overtake me. I’d like to think I could deal with the first with the grace and dignity of those that have lost the use of their lower limbs. I honestly have no clue until I have (another bad analogy) walked a mile in their shoes – Hat off.
As for homelessness I doubt that will be a problem for me in America but I meet people every week who have lost everything to mental health deterioration, substance abuse or ill fortune. I am not exempt- Touché.
Finally I have recently and not so recently seen the evil hand of cancer take loved ones from me, and more significantly taken their lives from them.
Bob Howard lies in Emory University today fighting for his life. The culprit: A mass in his lungs. Bob is a convivial, energetic lover of life. I witnessed him go to the mat taking on parents and their children encouraging the discovery of a zest for life. Bob is a good man. He has dedicated his life to helping other (another cliché but true). Recently we lost Kristin Jones, a dedicated advocate for children in my home county of Rockdale.
Ms. Jones left a message for us (and I paraphrase from her announcement)
“Don’t cry for me I am in a better place. Don’t waste your precious time on earth and breath grieving for me. Appreciate everything. I am gone and you remain here, now. ”
Bob is struggling to breathe. I wish him a miracle and a flight into beautiful, restorative health.
I wish it were that easy. I wish miracles happened every day. I wished those things for my own mother, but as she drew her last breath the stated “Don’t give up on God”. And I thought “Why not, he gave up on you (not my finest moment!)
She lead a noble, honest life and served God and humanity well. I do not understand why the young are taken, or our elders have to suffer. But I have known many, many humans I am proud to call acquaintance, friend, parent, mentor, leader.
Depression takes a toll on those of us left behind. According to the National Institute of Mental Health:
Suicide is a major, preventable public health problem. In 2007, it was the tenth leading cause of death in the U.S., accounting for 34,598 deaths.1The overall rate was 11.3 suicide deaths per 100,000 people.1 An estimated 11 attempted suicides occur per every suicide death.
Mrs. Jones, Mr. Howard, and Mrs. Morton were not connected with suicide. They battled or are currently battling cancer. Two of three have lost their battle but embraced their inevitability with Grace and Dignity. I bring depression and suicide into this blog to punctuate how precious life is in hopes that readers will embrace the life that remains within us left behind.
My thoughts and prayers remain with Mr. Howard and his family.
Once again, Bob, a flight into health right now would be swell. We miss your smile at the office.