Suicide

I saw him in a dream

What the FUCK is wrong with you?!!

His sheepish smile instantly transformed to injured horror.  “What do you want me to say? I can’t DO anything about it now.”

You could say you’re sorry.  

He made a choice, took a breath, and decided.  “You’re right. I’m sorry.”

And you could tell me I’m right.

“About what?”

You remember how we used to argue – err, discuss things – and I would tell you that you ought to be more sympathetic to people who seemed from the outside like they make bad choices?

“What does that have to do with anything?”

Seriously?  Where the fuck are you now?

“There’s no need to swear.”

Bullshit there isn’t.  And fuck you.

“Okay I can see you’re really angry – “

No shit, Sherlock.

“ – so I’ll come back another time.”

No!  Please – wait! Come back.  Please stay for a bit. Please. I’ve really missed you.

“Are you ready to be nice?”

…. Yes.  Maybe. I’ll try.  I’m really angry with you, you know?

“I can see that, yes.  But I can’t do anything about it now, and being mean to me isn’t helpful.”

(Silence.  Tears drop onto my cheeks.)

“So – what were you trying to say?  About sympathy? I don’t see what that has to do with me.”

Oh yes.  You always had zero sympathy for anyone who made less-than-perfect choices.  You seemed to be incapable of empathizing for anyone’s particular difficulties that were outside of your experience.  Even difficulties that you were witness to, you never empathized if your friend / acquaintance thought about their options differently than you would, or had different priorities, or pressures that you didn’t understand.  Particularly people who (insert meaningful glare here) take their own lives. Do you understand what I’m getting at now?

That’s what you wanted to talk about?”

Is there something wrong with talking about that?

“It’s just that I thought you would be happy to see me, so I made the effort to come see you.  You look well and I’m glad you are happy.”

(Crying)

I miss you.  We should have been friends for a long time.  You and your wife should have grown old together.  Did you think about her?! About how you left her alone?

“She didn’t want anything to do with me anymore.”

That’s bullshit and you know it.  She loves you more than you realize and misses you more than you know.

“No she doesn’t.”

Yes she fucking does –

“Language.”

Too fucking bad!  Yes she loves you, and she blames herself.  I called her last week and just listened for as long as I could spare while she worked on processing all this shit.  She. Misses. You. And. Feels. Like. Half. Her. Life. Is. GONE.

At this, he looks shocked, and on the verge of tears himself.

“… I had no idea …”

Of course you didn’t.  Because you have no empathy.  You know, that thing that I’ve been trying to get you to develop so that you can make the world around you a better place.  But you were resistant and dismissive, and now this particular character deficiency has come around and bitten you in the ass.  Your lack of empathy kept you blind to how much you matter to everyone else, and in your despair you did something that you can’t undo.  You fucked up big time.

“…. I … I … I don’t know what to say …”

You could go visit her next time, tell her you’re sorry, and just let her yell at you.  I would tell you that now you know for next time, but that’s a bit of a moot point now.

(He hangs his head.  I reach out.)

I miss you and I love you.  Yes I’m angry at you. I’ll be angry at you for a while, and she will be angry, too.  Please understand that we’ll forgive you eventually, but as I said – you fucked up and you’ll have to wait a while.

(He fades.  He’s gone. It feels empty.  I cry.)

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Cartoon roundup: the Robin Williams edition

It’s been awhile since I’ve done a cartoon roundup, so I thought this would be a good time for one.  I have always been a fan of the single-panel cartoon as an art form in its ability to capture a wide variety of topics from the silly to the serious, and I happened upon some really good ones memorializing Robin Williams –

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A nice look back at some of his more well-known contributions, with the poignant double meaning of the phrase, “we laughed ’til we cried.”

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… and a slightly more cynical observation.

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I saw many versions of the iconic comedy / tragedy masks, but most of them were a take on the tragedy of his depression behind the mask of the funny guy.  First of all, I don’t think his condition (or anyone’s condition, really) is that simple.  Second, that’s such a trite, insensitive analysis to reach for.  If you’re going to take the time to draw a memorial cartoon, either show me something in a new light or make it simple and sweet.  Like this cartoon above – simple and sweet.

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I was ten years old when Aladdin was released and immediately became the most culturally significant Disney movie of ALL TIME …. at least, to my ten-year-old self it seemed that way.  Robin Williams defined a part of my childhood and I didn’t even know it until years later.  And that’s why I love this one – it speaks so well to those of us who first encountered him as the Genie and who will forever remember him in that role.

In closing, to switch gears for a bit, here is a heart-warming video of Robin Williams meeting Koko, the gorilla that was able to communicate in sign language.  And here are, in Ms. Perry’s words, “thoughtful and gracious posts” on suicide and mental illness.

Thoughts and prayers for both his soul and his family that he left behind.