These past couple of weeks I’ve been working through some stuff. I discovered that a friend had died last year; then I discovered that he’d committed suicide; then my husband’s brother’s best friend died last weekend (had a heart condition and didn’t wake up); was talking to a friend at work and she was telling me about 2 friends of hers, brothers of 17 and 19 that were in hospital after a car accident (they’d hit a tree) so I thought speed was involved and wondered if alcohol and/or drugs had also had an impact – well speed was certainly a factor it turned out. She told me this on Tuesday morning – both brothers in critical condition with the elder brother (the driver) not expected to live. That night he died – she came to work the next day and was a mess. She’s only 19 herself and I guess this is the first friend of her age who’s died. She went home and cried for several days. On Thursday evening I caught up with an old friend, we’d been drinking buddies from way back, and he shared with me about how tough this year has been for him. He lives on his own in a neighbourhood where I also lived alone (before I met my husband) and we are pretty honest with each other. He was telling me about how depressed he’s been this year, about a boss who bullied him, about drinking most nights, not looking after himself, not taking his drugs, not doing any housework…
And I’ve been thinking – Graham died and I didn’t know. Phil is depressed and I DO know. I could help – or at least provide a helping hand. And if that means he has less reason or inclination to commit suicide, then it’s worth the effort.
For the past 4 – 5 months my house has not been really clean. I started the gardening business and was too tired to clean after I’d gardened (or – I didn’t care enough to do housework when I got home after gardening) – so my husband did the washing and tidied the kitchen most days. I haven’t done much in the way of housework for months.
Mid June my doctor said said he thought I might have had a TIA (mini-stroke) and initiated some tests at our local hospital and advised me I wasn’t to drive for the next 30 days. Thus postponing may gardening (that I drove to) and imposing a 4 week rest period. All in all not a bad thing as I had already decided I had been working too hard. I took a break from gardening – which was good for my body. Being a girl who likes to achieve things, I started making cot quilts instead (which I do during the winter sometimes) and managed to make about 6 cot quilts that I am planning to give away to needy families (through Women’s Refuge or church groups or similar – as long as they are not sold, and end up with families in need).
Now here I am, feeling like I really should return to gardening – and thinking about the deaths of people I know, thinking about suicide and my own encounters in the past – and not wanting anyone I know to have to experience the same despair and horrible desperation that I’ve felt in the past…
This morning I started cleaning my home – just a few rooms – the bathroom, toilet and my bedroom – a mini-spring clean. It was a start. It was an effort that I hadn’t made for a long time but it was enough. A step in the right direction.
And I’ve been thinking about my friend Phil’s house – about offering to help him make things clean and tidy again. I know what it’s like to live on your own, to feel depressed, to feel like you don’t really matter in many people’s lives, to use alcohol as a way of numbing the pain… and I want to help him because it’s a little something that I can do for someone that’s not me. It’s a way to provide support and encouragement to someone else, a way of giving to another, of supporting another, of being their for someone else.
And (as I stated earlier) if this means Phil has less inclination to end his life, or has more motivation to … do anything (cook, clean, garden – anything) then maybe that’s worth it.
I want to believe I had an opportunity and I took it – for all the right reasons – regardless of the outcome. I tried. I cared. I did something….
Then maybe that’s enough.
I’m not responsible for Phil’s decisions, his choices, his outlook – but if I can be a friend in the best way I know how, then maybe that’s enough.
And if it’s not enough, then I will know that I tried. I did something. I tried to make his life just that little bit easier when he was depressed and not motivated because I’ve known that depression and lack of motivation.
I want to know that I tried. If nothing else, I tried. I tried to be the friend that he needed me to be; the friend that listened and didn’t judge; the friend that was there and tried to make life just a little easier. The friend that cared enough to do something… because if nothing else, she cared.
When I’m depressed…
Time is so obtuse
Isolation is my ally, it understands me
Regret is like flogging a dead horse
Shame drains me of all colour
Sorrow is my benefactor
Depression my ever present shadow
While hope is like the sunrise
Doubt like clouds
Insecurity like standing in the rain
Despair like a torrent
Desolation a hurricane
While hope is like the sunshine
It warms, dries, lights the way
It encourages growth
A friend is an umbrella in the rain
Companionship a raincoat
Laughter a holiday from cold and damp (even if only for a moment)
The possibility of another place and time
And hope is like the sunshine
Take a photograph so as not to forget.
HOLD ON TO HOPE
These words speak to me of love and parting, of tender affection and memories. It might relate to romantic love but it could also describe a dear friendship, and implies a closeness, a gentleness; a relationship that the author will always remember with fondness.
I have been clearing out a spare room and going through old paperwork and small treasures from my past, and I came across this poem on the back of a card given to me by a good friend almost thirty years ago.
With the benefit of age and wisdom (I hope), time, perspective and hindsight – I think it’s fair to say that I appreciate the sentiment in this poem so much more now than I did then. I have an appreciation of the gentle tone the author has used, the tenderness of the affection expressed, and the softness or weightlessness of the language – like a description of the touch of a feather, or the texture of silk. I appreciate the sense I have of an impending separation without the need to specify the facts; the reference to how someone might be perceived from an earlier chapter of one’s life.
Looking back, it was a beautiful verse to be given, and I feel honoured to have been held in such regard.
And today the words are still beautiful and I just wanted to share them with you. I guess it’s always good to take a few moments every now and then to appreciate those who have come and gone from our lives, and to appreciate and be grateful for those who remain.