No One Does

There is nothing I can say about the suicides of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain that has not already been said.  I have no sage advice or pearls of wisdom or explanation for what appears to be the mainstreaming of suicide.  I don’t know what I could possibly add to the conversation other than to, well have a conversation.

Off the top of my head, the top of my head, I can think of close to a dozen people who I know personally who have found life so intolerable that the only way they could find peace was to end their lives.  Young and old, they were each someone’s sibling, spouse, child, grandchild or parent.  No one, it appears, is immune.  And, while there is no doubt that the pain that their friends and family will have for the rest of their lives is astounding , my heart literally aches thinking of these people and just how burdensome their lives had become.

Some took pills.  Others used guns.  One hung himself while another used a helium machine usually reserved for the joy of blowing up balloons.  In each case, without exception, their absence was quickly noted.  That “no one will miss me” thinking?  – debunked.  Their deaths unimaginable.

There is no doubt that mental illness plays a role in many suicides. And, for those of you fortunate enough to have been spared this hard lesson, finding (not to mention being able to afford) appropriate and meaningful support ain’t easy.  In some instances, it can be nearly impossible, even for those well connected, well educated and with the means to pay for it.  Remind me to tell you about the time I had to sit outside a locked psych ward for four hours waiting for someone, anyone, to talk to me.

Yes, mental illness plays a role.  But so, too, I would strongly argue, does what life has become in 2018.  It is brutal.  People are angry, isolated and fearful.  We claim to love our “i” everythings, but to what end?  Admittedly, I am guilty of over sharing and, although I try hard to keep things real, there are those, I am sure, that think I have a perfect life.  Truth: I don’t.

No one does.

Yes, I have loads to be thankful for.  I am married to a great guy; we have our health, live in a beautiful home and get to walk on the beach whenever we want.  But second marriages are complicated.  Raising children to adulthood can be brutal.  Having a hand in raising other people’s kids has some gigantic challenges.  Managing an ex-husband, even one who is a better ex than he was a husband still carries constant reminders of why you are exes.  And, if we are being honest, there have been moments, sometimes many of them, when I just don’t know if I can do it all.  No, I’ve not been suicidal, but I understand why people are.

pooh

Truth is, as much as we know about the people in our lives, I contend there is way more that we don’t. That’s why I always implore that we be kind to one another.  Most of us are masters at putting on a good face.  Many of us are ashamed at feeling overwhelmed, frustrated and ready to throw in the towel  because, well, you know, we have a perfect life.  But, oh yeah:

No one does.

Look out for the people in your life.  Answer you phone.  Reach out.

Kate Spade had built an empire and was beloved by her legions of fans.  Anthony Bourdain made a living out of travelling the world.  But clearly they didn’t have perfect lives either because, remember:

No one does.

Advertisements

Coffee, Donuts & Kindness

I’ve seen, or, more to the point, heard him, always at one of the three Dunkin’ Donuts in town. He’s everything you think of when you think of a ten-year-old boy: mop of thick overgrown hair sprouting out from a well-loved Red Sox hat, sparkling eyes and one of those adorable little bubble butts that only little kids can get away with.  He is joyfully immersed in a game on his iPad, his mom sitting next to him catching up on her mail or Facebook or something, anything, that allows her just a few moments of “me” time.

He is happy.  I can tell when he conquers his game from the rises and dips in his squeals.  Glancing over, I catch him jumping up and down while somehow keeping his butt in his seat.  Yeah, he’s really happy.

As the stream of those-in-need-of-their-morning-coffee enters Dunks, each and every one of them looks to see where the sounds are coming from. In fairness, it would be impossible not to. I, seated at a nearby table, find myself on alert, just waiting for someone to make a comment (and by comment I mean complaint), give a dirty look or simply shake their heads at what many would consider an irritant.  Thankfully no one does.  Had they, this mama bear was itching to let them have it…and would have.

This wildly cute little guy is on the very far end of the Autism spectrum.

As I waited for my coffee to cool down a little, I took advantage of not being responsible for anyone but myself and logged onto Facebook.  A dear friend’s status:

Looking for something to do today? Why not find a way to make the world a better place. Check in on a neighbor, help the elderly, donate to a charity that you’ve been meaning to do for some time, or just live your best life. If we all do it just imagine the possibilities.

When we have dinner as a family we go around the table, each sharing not only our “highs” and “lows” from the day, but what we did for someone else.  The first two are pretty easy.  Some days, the “what I did for someone else” is harder to come by.  But! It gets everyone thinking and, I’ve noticed, gotten us all to try harder to have something to say, even if it is as simple as holding the door for someone.

It was still early in the day and my caffeine was still in the cup, but I took note of the Facebook challenge.

Despite having seen her many times prior to this morning, I’d never spoken to his mom.  Today, as she was gently telling her son (and, I have to surmise, bracing for a battle) that it was time to shut the game and get going, she and I caught eyes.  I told her that she is doing a great job.  With that, she began to cry.  It wasn’t an “Oh my God, I cannot take this for one more second” cry, though.  It was a “Thank you, thank you, thank you” cry.  It occurred to me that it had been a longggg time – if ever – that anyone had patted her on the back or, worse, noticed her at all over all the ruckus and judgment.

I asked if her if he was completely non-verbal.  She replied with something between pride and sadness,

“He has two, no, make that three words.”

I hoped to myself that those words are: I, love and you.  In that order.

Accustomed to receiving so much negative feedback, she assumed that my kindness could only mean that I, too, have an autistic child.  Initially I said that I did not – a nonverbal child, I say tongue in cheek, is the exact opposite of anything I’ve been up against[1]– but, in fact, I do.  One of my stepsons is on the spectrum.   If this little guy was on the furthest end, my stepson is on the closest: extremely high functioning, always the smartest person in the room and gloriously sweet.  No one stares.  No one moves to a different table.  No one feels broken-hearted for him or his parents.  While my stepson sometimes dances to the beat of his own drum, this little Dunks boy is doing the same, but with an entire orchestra and all day long.

This mom is a complete rockstar.  Next time I see her, I am buying her a cup of coffee.  And a donut.  Because she definitely deserves a donut.

dunkin-donuts-coffee-donut

Be kind.

Be compassionate.

Be generous of spirit.

Try to do something nice for someone else every day.  It’ll give you something to talk about at dinner.

And next time I see you at Dunks, I’d love to treat you to a cup of coffee, too.

[1] The children in my life seldom STOP talking..