So final, so selfish. Or is it?
I have faced terminal cancer, and its aftermath of pain from the poisons they put in you to kill it. Which is more frightening or painful? Man’s cure is much worse, believe me. This battle is not over yet. The outcome is still unknown. That fact, that uncertainty, has its own pain too.
There were moments in all of this, when the idea of putting an end to my life was a real consideration.
Why did I not do it? Well, I didn’t do it. Call it courage or cowardice. Courage, to keep living for your family, and for respect for Life, however curtailed and painful. Cowardice, for not having the guts to just end it.
A good book not to read at times like this is Ecclesiastes. It was written by the wisest man, Solomon, who at one point in his life faced the very real possibility of suicide. He explored the breadth and depth of it. “Life is short,” he said. As we get older, things change. Things that we have no control over. At some point, we realize there are fewer days ahead of us than there were behind us. Then there is all the pain of living: Regret at over what is past. Feelings of futility over the present. Helplessness against what is in the future.
Meaningless. Solomon said it was all so meaningless. Yet he found a reason, somehow, to keep on living. He explains his most excellent Reason, which makes Ecclesiastes a good book to know. The Gospel of John is another great book to read, especially at times like this…
Others of us are not always so lucky in finding a reason to keep on living.
A young student by the name of Nick, at the high school where I teach, ended it last year. He was 15. He took his father’s gun and put it to his head. He was a friendly boy, with a lot going for him. He left brothers and sisters behind, and a shocked and mournful community, in this little town of ours.
Such a waste. How could any young boy or girl know anything of the finality of their action and its awful aftermath, taken in a quick, thoughtless moment of emotion over a broken relationship with a girlfriend?
And suicide is so final, isn’t it? There is no turning back. There is no way to undo what was done in a moment of anger, pain or vengeance. This final ‘solution’ has so many motives. Most of the time, the reason is known only to the one ending his life. All of us who are left have only questions, guilt, and the emptiness left by their passing. No answer anyone can give will ever take away the hurt and loss we feel.
If it were possible to speak to the one who just ended his life, what would they say? “I’m sorry. I made a mistake. It wasn’t as bad as I thought it was. I shouldn’t have done that. I wish I could change what I did. I wish I could take it back.” These are the words we would put in their mouths, as we wish there were a Rewind or an Undo button in life.
Rodney O. Lain was a fellow writer, and a particularly brave one. I admired him greatly, and feature his best work, with other those of other great writers, on my writing site. The few correspondences I have from him, I kept. Sometimes out of the blue he would write and say, “Hey, great article!” Many more times than that, I would be the one writing him about some great thing he had written. Other times he and I would talk about “How Things Are,” finding comfort in a common view about life and our favorite computer.
I miss you, man. For whatever reason you decided to leave, I do not think it was from cowardice. You had the guts to write all those things you did. You had the courage to boldly speak the truth when the rest of us would pull our punches. I somehow do not see you in that final moment lacking the courage to do what you did, for whatever reasons you had for doing it. I just wish you hadn’t done it. I do not think you realized the pain and the loss all of us would feel because of it.
To your sweet family and all your close friends, I too, offer my condolences, and my regrets. The burden of your loss right now is so great, as is your pain. There are not many things in life that are as painful as this.
To all of you who are living, keep on living. That takes courage too, and there is nothing cowardly about facing a new day. Especially these days. Life is short. Live it to the full, my friends – and love each other with all the courage and passion you have in you.
If I could offer forgiveness for what you did, Rodney, you have it. Your brief life was a bright fire, and we all were made wiser, and we became bolder, in its glow. We will never forget you, Brother. Rest in peace.