Tuesday, May 27, 2008

In the last two months I feel as though I've been surrounded by death.

Today I found out that yet another person passed away, but he took his own life. I didn't really know him, quite frankly. He was a former coworker from another department at the newspaper I wrote for for a time. It sounds like he had a few DUIs against him, a faltering personal life and the paper where he wrote for five years fired him during cutbacks. His friends thought he was doing okay, but they were still concerned about him. He committed suicide about two days ago, apparently.

It's shaken up a few of my former coworkers who are now just friends of mine. Normally their calls are filled with complaints and gossip regarding the craziness going on over there still. This time it was with solemnity in their voices that I heard the most recent news. It's the second suicide of an acquaintance that's happened in the past year and both times I find myself wondering how they came to such an unfortunate conclusion that they'd be better off dead. That life was too much. That there was no longer hope or reason to live.

Perhaps I'll never understand it, as it's always a complicated mess and the depths of despair are without measure. Still, it's a time to reflect and examine our relationships, especially with the ones who might be in that same dark place.

Just a few short weeks ago, a mom of five and close friend of ours passed away in a tragic car accident. She shouldn't have even made it from the car to the hospital. Arteries severed from her heart, they med-evaced her to a medical center where doctors said no one with her injuries typically survived her situation or even made it off of the surgery table alive. She did and she strengthened for three days only to pass away about five days after the crash due to an infection.
A month ago, a childhood friend overdosed on heroin and died. Some accounts allege that someone at a party stabbed him with the needle. But his friends paint a different picture of a troubled kid who'd just fallen off of the wagon again after recommitting his life to his God.

It's easy to look at all of the situations and ask "why." Why didn't someone find out he/she was in such a bad place and stop them? Why couldn't he have just pulled through the accident, lived and learned his lesson? Why did such an incredible woman have to die in such a horrific way and leave her children and husband behind?

The "why" questions really can't be answered nor will they take us through the journey of grief we need to embark on in order to find closure. We'll never know the answers to those questions. For me, it's about what we do with the information we have. How are we living our lives? How are we loving and treating others? Are we in our own little worlds and caring only about the stresses we encounter when we should be aware of those around us too?

All of this death sucks, but rather than stewing in the tragic nature of it all, I choose to love, live and pray for those who walk through it and extend my hand. I'm not perfect, but neither is anyone else.

What are you choosing to do today?