Monday, November 24, 2008

A Sea of Troubles

The first words that occurred to me when I heard were: "Or to take arms against a sea of troubles, and by opposing end them." From Hamlet's "To be or not to be" soliloquy. I just got word a few minutes ago that my brother-in-law put a .22 rifle between his eyes and pulled the trigger. He's alive . . . on a respirator, and he's not going to make it. A sea of troubles must have been raging in him. A typhoon, a tsunami, a Cat-5 hurricane. So he took up arms and ended the troubles.

He leaves behind two sons, one of whom was in the house when he did the deed. Who can understand what brings a person to this pass? I never knew him well, and I never knew him over the course of 25 or so years to be happy actually. Rumor had it in the family for a while that he was suicidal. But what can anybody really do in this situation? What can you do? I'm sure there must be some people with suggestions, but can you watch, guard a person 24/7? You can't commit everybody who flirts with the idea that oblivion beats existence. I'm sure the thought occurs to a lot of people. But few go this far and make it so.

I'm sure there are numbers and charts and graphs and statistics and learned commentary on the phenomenon of suicide, its whys and wherefores. But none of it explains anything at a time like this.

From the outside, it it's difficult--nay, impossible--to see anybody else's inner demons. Grappling with them is by definition a solitary, personal task. Loved ones, even if they number in the hundreds, can't tote this load for you. And not everybody's up to it. That's the only way I can explain a person I know doing something like this. And in the very next thought, you're saying to yourself: yes, but what could I have done from miles away? What could anybody have done?

I can't help but think of his long-dead wife, Nora, who succumbed to lung cancer when she was 34 years old. Thank God she was not around for this. Maybe John never recovered from her absence. Who knows? Hell, this is impossible. Doing what he did just makes no sense in the skin I inhabit. And it's just impossible to get inside another's. Go with God, brother. There's not much else to say.
Post a Comment