The Watering Hole: Wednesday, September 10, 2014: To be, or not to be…

To be, or not to be– that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them. To die- to sleep-
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heartache, and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to. ‘Tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish’d. To die- to sleep.
To sleep- perchance to dream: ay, there’s the rub!
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause. There’s the respect
That makes calamity of so long life.
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
Th’ oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s contumely,
The pangs of despis’d love, the law’s delay,
The insolence of office, and the spurns
That patient merit of th’ unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin? Who would these fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death-
The undiscover’d country, from whose bourn
No traveller returns- puzzles the will,
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
(Hamlet, Act III, Scene 1)

I believe that if we live long enough, sooner or later we will come face to face with Hamlet’s question, “To be, or not to be” a choice, a precipice, which, once stepped off, cannot be undone. Some do choose to cross that line, to go to that “undiscover’d country”. We’re left behind, unwilling or unable to follow; we are suicide survivors. We have survived the death of someone close to us – a death we cannot totally understand, because is seems so senseless. Yet it was a choice, perhaps the ultimate leap of faith in the acceptance of a loving God.

We cry out in silent anguish. If only….if only….if only. A thousand ‘if onlys’ for every star in the heavens.

Today is the World Suicide Prevention Day. It is a day where we, the survivors of suicide, have been invited to light a candle at 8:00 p.m. local time, to remember a lost loved one, and for the survivors of suicide.

I will be lighting a candle for my late brother:


“Your brother died today.”
The sky is blue.
The sun is shining.

“Your brother died today.”
The lie is through.
The runner’s hiding.

“Your brother died today.”
I’m crying too.
The gunner’s riding.

“Your brother died today.”
My brother too.
My brother too.

(this poem was written the day I got the call.)

And, from a different perspective:

Through doors now closed to mortal thought
Th’ eternal flame flicker’d low.
What hellish deeds thy hands hath wrought
And shadows in thy soul doth grow.

What anguish rent thy tortured breast,
Through the darkened halls of the kingdom,
Past chambers where the dying rest,
And portals of forgotten home?

From whence came the desperation
That drove thee on towards madness,
To end at last in consecration;
One final hope of gladness?

The course that cannot be undone:
Rest in peace, my little one.

As for me:

I have traveled the other side of the looking-glass,
Down the rabbit’s hole,
Past the March-hare’s madness,
And drank from the Devil’s bowl.

Below the depths of Wonderland,
The lonely darkness calls,
And beckons my soul to dwell therein,
In labyrinthical halls.

I long to return to the darkness,
The Never-Never Land of night;
To leave behind the looking-glass,
Forever banished from its sight.

But the chess game moves ever onward,
And I, a lowly pawn,
Have slain the Black Knight with a double-edged sword,
And condemned myself to the dawn.




23 thoughts on “The Watering Hole: Wednesday, September 10, 2014: To be, or not to be…

  1. My condolences on your loss. Remember your brother well.

    Having lived with depression my entire adult life (fortunately, it hasn’t been TOO severe most of the time), I can understand why someone would choose to do that. Many people can’t, and some even get angry that the person never sought help. It’s not easy. We live our lives often putting on a happy face for the sake of others, because no one likes to be around a “Gloomy Gus.” So we pretend for the sake of others. But inside, the darkness takes over, It’s hard for people who have never experienced it to understand how it can affect someone, but it can be very powerful.

    My condolences on your loss. Remember your brother well.

  2. My favorite is “the bootstrap lecture”
    Well now, you just got to grab yourself by the bootstraps and pull yourself out of that mess.
    What’s wrong with you? You have nothing to be depressed about… blah blah blah blah.
    The fact of the matter is: There are things in life that are overwhelming and the person giving you the bootstrap lecture is one of the last people you would ever want to confide in.
    And so, we turn inward, and try to compartmentalize those feelings and as Wayne says, put on a happy face.
    My solution is nature. I have found that I have to get away from people and go for a hike or sit at the beach and listen to the waves.
    Pets help out a great deal too.
    The antics of a crazy kitten thinking its box is a space ship.
    For me it was dog breath aroma therapy and it worked well.

  3. Condolences, BnF.

    I’m reminded of the following words from Longfellow’s “Psalm of Life”:

    Tell me not, in mournful numbers,
    Life is but an empty dream!—
    For the soul is dead that slumbers,
    And things are not what they seem.

    Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
    Is our destined end or way;
    But to act, that each to-morrow
    Find us farther than to-day.

    Lives of great men all remind us
    We can make our lives sublime,
    And departing, leave behind us
    Footprints on the sands of time;

    Footprints, that perhaps another,
    Sailing o’er life’s solemn main,
    A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
    Seeing, shall take heart again.

    Let us, then, be up and doing,
    With a heart for any fate;
    Still achieving, still pursuing,
    Learn to labor and to wait.

  4. I remember some of the difficulties my brother had with his leg after his sledding accident when we were just teenagers. Weeks in traction in hospital and months in a half body cast at home followed by years of an adjustable splint. He passed the Air Force physical and served a tour in Viet Nam. Years later a couple more operations on that leg resulted in a dependency on the medications that, coupled some beer and a shot or two, helped masked the physical pain but led to his mental torment. That the mental torment he suffered came from his memory of his sexual assaults on our 3 younger sisters after I had left home for the Navy was unknown to me until after he pulled the trigger on a Christmas day several years ago. And the fact that both his wife and mistress worked in the same office at his company…..

    Thanks for the memories BnF!

  5. I am so sorry BnF. I’ve known the pain of a loved one’s suicide. Depression is an illness, not a character flaw. Nobody ever tells a cancer patient to just snap out of it.

  6. My condolences to anyone who has lost a loved one to depression, and sometimes, to suicide. I’ve seen their world get so small. I’ve seen the helpless, snowballing anguish the demons bring.

  7. All I can offer, BnF, is some Pet Shop Boys wisdom:

    Our love is dead
    but the dead don’t go away
    They made us what we are
    they’re with us every day

    • “[It is] easy for us to provoke and bait this administration. All that we have to do is to send two mujahidin to the furthest point east to raise a piece of cloth on which is written al-Qaeda, in order to make the generals race there and cause America to suffer human, economic, and political losses. … This is in addition to our having experience in using guerrilla warfare and the war of attrition to fight tyrannical superpowers, as we, alongside the mujahidin, bled Russia for 10 years, until it went bankrupt and was forced to withdraw in defeat,” – Osama bin Laden, 2004.

  8. My condolences, as well, to all who have lost loved ones to suicide. We all know the torment and darkness of loss. Like many of us here, I find some solace in the natural world – I drive home from work on the back roads, and have all my windows open to catch the scents of freshly-mown grass, open fields, gardens, overgrown fields smelling of flowering vines, sun-warmed pine trees, and just the hint of the beginning of fall, with some trees losing their leaves already. It calms me, and if I time it right, I also catch panoramic views of the sun setting over our rolling hills. That half-hour or so drive can erase a lot of daily stress, and I’m savoring it while the season lasts.

    Hugs and goodnight, my friends. 🙂

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