Please pay attention to what is happening in Ferguson right now.
The people of Ferguson are staging a peaceful protest regarding the unlawful, tragic murder of Mike Brown, and the police are responding with rubber bullets (one man has been injured so far) and tear gas, calling the protesters “fucking animals.”
I know a lot of creative people and perhaps by correlation I know a lot of people who struggle with depression. They have told me (and they’ve told the world) how depression sits there, implacable, and drains the color out of the world until no success or joy matters. I believe them, and it becomes increasingly evident that no matter who you are or what you’ve achieved, that depression is a good liar and can make you believe none of it matters.
I know and love too many people with depression to believe that it’s something that’s shameful to talk about or to acknowledge. I want them alive and I want them here with us. If you have depression I want you alive and here with us. Don’t let the moment take you. Don’t be afraid to get help. The people who love you want you here. Believe it.
Life is precious, all life. None more than any other, though. Living is what happens to us all. Right?
Those who feel that some lives are more precious than other fail to take into account the quality of life one must have in order to be happy. There are orders of happiness. And that is precious, too.
So when one chooses to end one’s life because the quality of that life is not conducive to happiness that should be precious, too. Especially if all the paperwork is filled out and on file with local, state and federal governments along with the appropriate insurance companies. And filed by the early deadlines of one’s life.
I have all my papers (which is a joke, we don’t use paper any more) logged with everyone who needs it. My sister has copies, so does my lawyer.
Which doesn’t mean I’m anxious to die. I’ve thought about it before, nearly ended my life on two separate occasions because of despair rather than illness but I didn’t. I don’t have any plans, too, either unless I get terribly, terribly sick. Even then I’ll talk with Carolyn to see if she thinks I’m just being a wuss.
And she’ll tell me. She’ll never let me kill myself because I’m sad. She found me on the kitchen floor with the sharpest boning knife pressed against my chest, aimed upward to go under my sternum and straight into my heart. All I had to do was lean forward quickly and it would have been all over.
But I didn’t do it. And I won’t.
Having my wishes on file means the government and the insurance companies can’t not pay out if I do suicide.
Because my death is as precious as my life. It’s just how I was raised.
There’s a storm brewing outside. Low rumbles of thunder like gods walking on the floor upstairs. Sheet lighting flashing between walls of clouds on the horizon to the left and to the right. I keep looking for shadows of giants in the flashes.
Rain drips down in steady but light showers. The thunder rolls across the sky, a little more urgent now. It’s unconnected to the broad swaths of white flashing to either side and above me. I should go back in.
But I don’t. I look up, hold out my hands. feel the rain in my palms. I’m encouraged, hopeful that the gods aren’t angry, just conducting normal business.
Then the lightning flashes quickly once, twice, thrice and there’s a shadow of something HUGE in there.
Maybe it was a cloud.
It’s easy to fall apart when things get tough. I’ve lost arms and my leg from the knee down a couple of times. Fortunately I was able to put myself back together with a little patience.
The embarrassing bit was explaining why I was late to work.
I didn’t want to go into the Furnace which isn’t really a furnace but that’s what it’s referred to because it’s so stressful. I look human enough, for a metal person that is, but I’m not all metal and stress does things to the systems that allow the interface between organic and man-made. It’s too long an explanation, though, so you can look it up if you want.
Anyway, I didn’t want to go in, but Mike made me do it. The task had to be done and I was best qualified even though he knew I was having a bit of trouble lately with keeping things together they way they should. He apologized but it was important.
So I went into the Furnace which wasn’t hot but was busy and I did my best to stay calm. It didn’t work. My heart and my other heart both sped up with the clamor and din as if they were keeping time with the rhythm of the machines. Halfway across the crowded space, in one of the tightest passages between the atomizer and the breaker the alarm went off.
My right arm detached spontaneously at the shoulder and when I tried to bend over to pick it up, I couldn’t. I was paralyzed.
I am paralyzed.
Mike sometimes talks to me over the mic to apologize but that was the end of the Furnace. They shut the lights off and I’m trapped and dying. The radiation, they say, is contained. And I can never leave.
"What do you mean you’re going?"
"Just what I said. I can’t stay here any more. I don’t believe in what we - what you all have decided needs to be done. None of this makes any sense any more."
"But, but, but - you’re the one who brought me in. You’re the one who convinced me I was misguided before. Now you’re telling me that I was right? That you were able to influence me to be something, do things that were diametrically opposed to who I was?"
Pause. “Yes.” Quiet.
"My conscience. I can’t do it any more. You were right. I was wrong. That’s an end to it."
"No, it isn’t."
"Yes it is. I changed too much, believed things that should never have gained any kind of traction in my mind. What’s going on here is wrong. WRONG. I’m done with it."
"You’re leaving us. You’re leaving me. You’re leaving all that you’ve accomplished behind."
"You can come with me."
Pause. “No.” Quiet.
"Please. Come with me."