Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Not the best news day

I had a funny kind of post in mind for today that included mocking the Apple iPad, making jokes about Steve Jobs standing in for Obama during tonight's state of the union address (as Slate speculated earlier this week), and really having a laugh at John Edwards' expense, since it appears his wife has FINALLY left him.

But the news that's been on my mind the most all day is of an acquaintance from college who decided yesterday that she couldn't go on anymore and ended her life. We were never especially close, just different girls with different groups of friends in college, but we were always in each other's periphery as we had the same major, and I have a couple of friends who have stayed in touch with her and know of her struggles and pain through the years. It's for them, and for her family that I am especially sad tonight. I know little of that kind of darkness, and wouldn't wish that kind of heavy burden on anyone.

We all know people who struggle with the stresses of life, and we all know on a theoretical level to reach out as best we can. But at times like this we can't help but ask what more we could have done. It's hard to see the purpose in this kind of loss, and I flounder to find meaning in why a bright spot such as Cheryl would succumb to the darkness.

So, I have few words. But this poem by Mary Oliver says a lot of what I wish I could say, what I wish for myself and others. I know I've posted this before, so forgive the repetition.

When Death Comes
When death comes
like the hungry bear in autumn;
when death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse

to buy me, and snaps the purse shut;
when death comes
like the measles-pox;

when death comes
like an iceberg between the shoulder blades,
I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering:
what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?

And therefore I look upon everything
as a brotherhood and a sisterhood,
and I look upon time as no more than an idea,
and I consider eternity as another possibility,

and I think of each life as a flower, as common
as a field daisy, and as singular,

and each name a comfortable music in the mouth
tending as all music does, toward silence,

and each body a lion of courage, and something
precious to the earth.

When it's over, I want to say: all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.

When it is over, I don't want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don't want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument.

I don't want to end up simply having visited this world.
--Mary Oliver

Oh, I did think of something else to say: Tell those you love that you love them. Every day. Multiple times.


  1. That is so sad. I know how you feel. My closest childhood family friend committed suicide last year and it completely broke my heart. I start to tear up at the mere thought of him and the kind of pain he must have been in to choose that way out.

    I like you posted about it the day I found out. I wrote a letter to him in the post that I re-read sometimes. It breaks my heart again and again.

    I think people close to those that choose this will never stop wondering if there could have been they could have done to prevent such a tragedy.

  2. I barely knew Cheryl but was shocked at the tragic news today. I feel for her family and friends who are dealing with questions and grief right now. Such a sad situation. Thanks for sharing the Mary Oliver poem--it's a powerful one.


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