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We Are Here

Posted in: Blog by admin on September 23, 2010


It’s hard to sleep peacefully tonight. I spent the day at a funeral for a 46-year-old man who took his own life. And, as I lay here in my dark, quiet room, the images of his four-year-old boy and six-old girl keep creeping back into my mind. I see them smiling during the funeral, while they gaze around the packed chapel at all of the faces. Then, I see those young, innocent faces full of tears as the rabbi speaks about their daddy, who is now gone. Next, they are sobbing in their mom’s arms as their dad’s casket is being lowered into the ground. They hold bright flowers in their hands … beautiful, vibrant flowers that speak of life and color and possibility — as the awaiting dirt pile sits just feet away.

The young children’s emotions vacillate, as they are unable to grasp what has even happened. And, I, someone who hardly knew this man who was said to be funny, charming, witty and good, could not keep my tears from flowing. I cried for the wife who no longer has a partner. I cried for the children whose tears broke my heart, whose fatherless days are stretched out before them. I cried for his mom, his brothers, his friends, my boyfriend — all of whom lost a treasured man.

Everyone cried. Everyone felt sick. Everyone wondered why. Why would a man, who seemingly has so many reasons to live, take his own life? People speculated all day: Maybe he got into financial trouble. Maybe his wife was leaving him. Maybe he was sick. Maybe he lost his job.


The need to figure it out was understandably all-consuming. But, from where does that need come? Is it the innate detective in us? Is it our overflowing human curiosity? Or, is it simply our need to feel less vulnerable? Wouldn’t it make us feel safer to know, “ah, I see. He was caught up in a Ponzi scheme. He would have gone to jail for life. Now I get it.”

The truth is, we can never really “get it.” There is no reason, no fact, no illness, no scandal, no disaster that can justify a man hanging himself. There is just darkness and sadness and despair. There is the thought to some that tomorrow will not be a better day, that the sun will not shine again, that their pain will only deepen.

And, that makes us terrified and vulnerable and sick.

We always want to know that there was some big reason, a reason that is not present in our lives. Then, we can feel safe. Our son is not part of a Ponzi scheme. My father has a good job. My sister does not battle depression. Ah, yes, I am safe. We are safe. So, we believe … so we try to believe.

But, we know better. We are all vulnerable to the darkness that exists. It will touch all of our lives. We all will suffer. We all will feel pain. Some of us will bounce right back. Some will wallow in the sadness. Some will see colors more vibrant than ever before. Some will see only grayness. Some will love and laugh and savor each moment more than they ever had. Some will miss the beauty that is right before their eyes.

Our reactions and emotions travel on the pendulum, just like the young children who shockingly lost their daddy. It’s what we do with those emotions. It’s how we handle our vulnerabilities. It’s how we choose to live and breathe and smile and laugh and love. That is what differentiates us … what makes us strong or weak, happy or sad.

Yes, we are vulnerable. Yes, the world is dark. Yes, there is so much pain.

But, there is also a beauty to be discovered in so many hidden moments. There is a vibrance in flowers to see … a smile on a child’s face to cherish … a kiss to experience … a love to explore …

There is life. And, death reminds us how fragile that is. And, death reminds us of something else I will never forget: Six and a half years ago, when my sweet Sari died suddenly at the age of 32, my poetic friend said to me, “Death is what makes life beautiful.”

It was hard for me to grasp that concept at that sorrowful time. But, I remember inhaling those words and letting them seep through my veins. I knew those words were powerfully true. For as much as death makes us feel more vulnerable, it is also a reminder that we are here. We are breathing. We are loving. We are laughing. We are holding flowers. We are planting seeds. We are here. We are present.

We are here.

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