To the Editor:
“There is tremendous happiness in making others happy, despite our own situations. Shared grief is half the sorrow, but happiness when shared, is doubled. If you want to feel rich, just count all the things you have that money can’t buy. Today is a gift, which is why it is called The Present.” – Author unknown
I have been close to suicide many times in my life. I was 30 when my best buddy decided to take his life shortly after talking to me on the phone. We closed by telling each other we loved each other. That was my lesson from Paul’s death. Always let the ones you love hear you say it.
Years later, we had a wonderful young man working for us. Shy and quiet, he was a calm soul, well loved by all who knew him. Chris made brief mention of his feelings of depression and hopelessness to my business and life partner at the time. A week later, he was gone from his earthly body, and we all embraced each other as we searched for meaning. Chris’s lesson for me was to listen more carefully to what dear ones are saying.
Brandy Leigh came to spend time with me on Marthas Vineyard a few years ago. She had been here with family and friends many times throughout her life and had a deep fondness for the Island. We spent hours on the beach together, creating art with sand, shells and stones. We watched sunsets and enjoyed comfortable silences. We sang cheesy songs together as we rode around in my truck, neither of us worrying about what we sounded like. She gave me warm, comforting affection when I needed it most.
Her smile was infectious and her laughter was contagious. But of course, underneath there lay a darkness. Last Friday, Brandy chose to take her own life.
Suicide, to me, is the single greatest act of selfishness. To witness the extent of damage, hear the sorrow and taste the tears can be overwhelming and is left only for the living.
However, as I made my way through the day, Saturday, I felt that something had changed. I was seeing things differently. The sky was bluer, the air was crisper, and the smells were stronger as my senses were heightened.
I was realizing just how beautiful each and every moment we have on this earth is. I lay on the floor, as my great nephew Silas climbed all over me squealing and laughing. I enjoyed the kind, caressing hands that cut my hair. Sunday, I embraced every painful muscle and joint in my body as I practiced yoga in a room of wonderful, caring and kind souls, feeling our individual energies blending as we chanted and moved together. I can hear raindrops outside my window, the wind rustling the trees, and hear the faint sounds of music coming from elsewhere in the house.
Brandy, your lesson for me is a reminder of just how important and wonderful the quietest and simplest moments of life can be. With your loss, the volume of all that I love and cherish has been turned up. Goodbye sweet one.