I was cruising up I-95 in the Aston with the top down; Jonny Lang wailing through the speakers.
Why am I fighting to live;
If I'm just living to fight?
Why am I trying to see;
When there ain’t nothing in sight?
Why am I trying to give;
When no one gives me a try?
Why am I dying to live;
If I'm just living to die?
It’s one of his most haunting and poetic songs and one of my all-time favorites. But on this day, it made me very melancholy. Last weekend, my friend Carol killed her father, and then took her own life. He had been ill for a long time and had wanted to die. But that didn’t make it any less heart wrenching or shocking.
Obviously Carol was in great pain herself, and didn’t want to continue. She had a back injury and other health challenges recently and couldn’t help her sister Gail much to care for their father. I didn’t walk in her shoes, so can’t judge her or know what finally drove her to this extreme. But I do know that this is a sad and tragic end to a life that once shone brightly. And that wounds my heart and saddens my soul. I will miss my friend and always wonder what might have been.
Sometimes I wish for the arrogance of the fundamentalists, with their smug certainty of their guaranteed salvation. But alas, I can only hope that Carol and her father are in a better place, a kinder space.
I do know that death has saved them from more pain. But while that gives those of us left behind some degree of solace, there is still that gnawing hunger of what might have been.
I never met my father, so Father’s Day was reserved for my Grandfather on my Mother’s side. But he’s been gone for some years now. So every June I walk by the Hallmark display, but I have no one to buy a card for.
My grandmother is gone now too, so I have just one card to send for Mother’s Day in May. And I fear the day will come when I won’t have that either. And as much as I fear that, I fear the opposite even worse. Because no mother should ever have to bury her child.
The other day, my entire extended family met at Disney World. There were so many of us we had to take five cars. As is often the case in Florida, a summer shower came and drenched us. So we all ran to the cars, to go back to the hotel.
Then I noticed that Grandma wasn’t in any of the cars. So I sent everyone back and I waited alone for her. Finally I saw her standing alone, under a cloud. She had a rain poncho on and wanted to stay. So I agreed to walk in the rain through Disney World, just her and I.
But then I woke up, and it was a cold winter day, and the raindrops were really teardrops. What I wouldn’t give for the chance to walk in the rain with her one more time.
Today I am sad. But if you ask me most days, I’ll tell you I’m the happiest person I know. I love life, and I love my life. Each and every day I celebrate the blessings I have.
But it wasn’t always that way…
I have a journal from more than 15 years ago. No one else on the planet has ever seen it, or ever will. But in it is a suicide note.
Written in the depth of despair, when life simply seemed too arduous, too difficult, and too painful to endure any longer.
Had I acted upon that impulse then, I would have missed falling in love in Paris, flying the Concorde, and winning a World Series. I would have been cheated of some spectacular sunsets in Key West, winning the Viper shootout, and long nights talking with good friends until 4 am. I would have never heard Dmitry Hvorostovsky, rode an elephant, or seen my nieces and nephews grow into young adults.
I would have missed many of the things that make a life worth living...
I can’t tell any of this to my friend Carol anymore, so I’m telling you. If you are in pain, face seemingly insurmountable challenges, or wonder if things will ever change for you, all I can say is, please hang on, at least for another day.
You have gifts that no one else in the world can offer. You have skills you don’t even know you possess, love you haven’t experienced yet, and hope that has your name upon it.
There are songs you have yet to sing, dances you are meant to dance, and stories that only you will be able to tell.
If you’re facing financial challenges, I promise you they can be solved. Knowing what I now know about prosperity, I am shocked at how easy wealth can be manifested when your mind is right. If this is an issue for you, please go to the library and borrow a copy of my book, Accept Your Abundance.
If you’re facing medical challenges or pain, know that science is advancing every day at an exponential rate. There are bionic limbs, breakthroughs in stem cell research, and diseases being cured all the time.
If you suffer from severe depression, find a medical professional to help you. It may even be something as simple as a chemical imbalance that can be corrected with acupuncture, a change in diet, or medication.
A trained counselor can help you through unresolved issues of abuse, abandonment, or trauma. If money is an issue, there are mental health programs offered from the government, or seek help from a spiritual advisor.
If your heart is broken, it means you have the capacity to love and are loving! There is someone special out there, waiting to meet you.
As I look back on my life now – I wouldn’t change one single thing. I have loved and lost, failed in more businesses than I can count, faced almost certain death, fought drug and alcohol dependencies, and stared down many personal demons. And all of these things made me stronger, gave me wisdom, and allowed me to love. These challenges molded me, as yours are molding you.
There are joyous, wonderful experiences awaiting you, but you have to be here to receive them. Yes, it is darkest before dawn, but the dawn will always break through.
Please. If you’re still reading this far, you’re not ready to go yet. Many of us will miss Carol. And we don’t want to miss you.
So I'll keep fighting to live;
Till there’s no reason to fight.
And I'll keep trying to see;
Until the end is in sight.
You know I'm trying to give;
So come on give me a try.
You know I'm dying to live;
Until I'm ready to die.
And now, for the rest of you…
Most of you reading this are not contemplating suicide. But what are you doing with the gift of life you have now? When are you going to stop phoning it in, and start living your life out loud, in color and BIG?
Call someone today and tell them you love them. Pay the toll for the car behind you. Tip the waitress stupid money. Stay up all night. Send someone flowers. Send yourself flowers. Notice the stars.
Start that book, screenplay or opera you’ve been talking about for years. Go to a scary movie and stop starring in one. Take a chance. Take a risk.
Make love with the lights on. Make wild bed-breaking sex with the lights off. Unplug the TV for a month. Next time you go out to eat, order a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with a large chocolate milk.
Please. Live life. Live YOUR life.
And make it a life worth living.
Suicide prevention Lifeline https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/