Friday, May 11, 2018

Suicide, semicolons, and living

Back in junior high, I had my best friend approach me at my locker. She handed me her razor blade that she was going to use to slit her wrist. She stopped because she heard my voice tell her not to. About 25 years ago, a young lady came to my door with her wrists slit, fortunately not deep enough to end her life, but it was still attempted. Throughout my years, I have heard stories of people taking their life. I also had two of my kids commit suicide, although not biological, it still hurts to know they were in so much pain that they didn't believe there was any other way. I wasn't there for them when they did it. Two other kids spoke of suicide often, one even needed to go to the hospital because he couldn't shake his feelings, he was desperate.

Awhile back, I witnessed a man so desperate, he climbed onto an overpass and was going to jump. I saw him holding on. Then, I saw him jump. I later leaned that he actually was jumping to a police officer who was able to help him down and jump to a bus.  But still why didn't he believe there was more to life? Recently, a friend of mine made comments about just wanting it to be over, that she can't go on, and isn't worth the air she breaths. She was desperate. She felt there was nothing left. I cannot even begin to understand how someone can believe suicide is the only option. 

And then I read this - "I never really wanted to die, I just wanted someone to see how much of a struggle it was for me to live."  And I've also learned about the semicolon in a whole new way - "a semicolon is used when an author could've chosen to end their sentence, but chose not to. The author is you and the sentence is your life." Your story is NOT ever. Your life matters. You are seen!

I can't stop thinking about the point of the first quote "I just wanted someone to know my struggle to live." How do I help people live? How do we help people understand there really is a reason to keep going? How can I lesson their struggle? Because in the middle of the mess, there's not much that can be said to change their mind. I know I'm not the answer. I know I can't save them, BUT can't I help? There has to be something...

Saturday, April 21, 2018

How Are You?

How are you? I’m good, how are you? I’m fine.

How are you? My 17 year old daughter ran away.

How are you? My friends’ 15 year old daughter is pregnant.

How are you? I’m doing OK.

How are you? I'm not really sure.

How are you? Eh, I’m alright.

How are you? My husband was just diagnosed with cancer.

And life moves on, like the answers were just left there.

We ask this question all the time, more often than not, the response is “I’m good” or “I’m fine.” Lately I’ve noticed some people are sharing more, but in those responses, there’s hardly ever time to get past the response. Does that make sense? I just mean, we ask the question, how are you, but rarely do we listen to the answer. And even when we get more than the robot response of I’m good, we may say I’m sorry, but then we move past it...because life doesn’t pause and must keep going.

But are we really saying something else? Are we saying “hey, i really want to know how you are, but I don’t have time for your answer.” Or worse, “i’m only asking because it's the “polite” thing to do.”

Today I saw someone I haven’t seen in awhile. His response was “Eh, I’m alright.” But he was on the phone, so I couldn’t get more details. Something about his face said there was more, but there was no time. Is this really what we’ve come to? We are so busy today, and in such a hurry. But I can’t help to think, what if we really made the time to hear the answer, to validate people’s life, to respond in such a way, others will know they were heard.

How are you?

Saturday, December 17, 2016

And They Thank Us

It was about 38 degrees out when we started. We ended when it was just over 40. We went out, cooked & served some food, handed out soap & toothbrushes, jackets & blankets, and they thanked us, some even said “God bless you.” Us. Us, who get to turn around and go home, put dry socks on, in our heated homes. Us, who get to cook whatever we want, whenever we want it. Us, who can use a regular bathroom and take a hot shower whenever we want. They stood in line, patiently waiting for food, and toiletries. Some of them sleep out in this cold, even rain, huddled under tarps & blankets. They all have a story to tell, some share of choices they made that brought them to the streets and others just seemed to always be there. One guy shared about the work he used to do, installing radios & speakers in cars, and how their shop had so much sound coming out, it shook things off the shelves of businesses near by. They all have a story.

Today I watched a gal who was so excited to see one of us. I don’t know the whole story, but seems she gave a gift to one of the families that helps out. I watched her smile ear to ear as they all hugged. I listened as he told her that the gift she gave is still up in their house and then watched their son react so excitedly when he realized who she was-he couldn’t wait to go over and say hi.  I watched children get excited about the stuffed animals we handed out.  I heard people excited to tell me that they already received dog food for their dogs. Some sang to the Christmas music playing. Some danced. Some were very quiet. But all of them smiled. All of them were grateful. But, for the most part, almost all of them go back to the street, and cold, and hard ground to sleep on. And us, we come home, warm up, and go to bed on an actual bed, with blankets...and they thank us.