Moving your life to the other side of the planet is not for the faint of heart during the best of times. Add crisis- real or perceived- into the picture and the emotional dynamics change completely. THAT is the stuff the abyss from which I am emerging is made.
An email was sent to me a few weeks ago informing me my cousin had taken his life . . . in Oklahoma, United States. The information was on the heels of heartache and intense online discussion with friends in our Springfield, Illinois community theatre family who had lost a dear and respected peer to suicide the day prior.
One of my traits that led me to my work was a deep empathic bond with people. When they hurt, I hurt or at least I can, at some level, feel and understand their pain. Hearing details of my cousin's life and suffering cut me deeply. And I know the acute loss brought up grief issues of leaving my country, my home, my family, my friends . . . add catching every virus that has traveled up and down the east coast of New Zealand for the past four months and there was a bit of wallowing going on. But you know what? I'd rather wallow and feel and grieve and honor someone's spirit, that is now more at peace, than emotionally suppress myself and suffer the after-effect of stifled difficult emotions later.
I have slithered out the other side. Many untimely deaths have shocked friends lately and I envision these souls surrounded by light and love and the realization that the world was a better place for gracing us with their presence.
Imagining my homeland, my loved ones and our virtual connection and sending them light, positive energy and love every day continues to bridge my physical gap to them. Nothing can sever my emotional ties and that concept was highlighted during these times of profound loss.
My brothers made the trip south to my cousin's memorial service. I was asked to write something. I couldn't find many words--it was just too hard--but David Foster Wallace, an author that killed himself, apparently had the words that provided comfort and helped answer the never-ending question of "why." I share those with you now.
“The so-called ‘psychotically depressed’ person who tries to kill herself doesn’t do so out of quote ‘hopelessness’ or any abstract conviction that life’s assets and debits do not square. And surely not because death seems suddenly appealing. The person in whom Its invisible agony reaches a certain unendurable level will kill herself the same way a trapped person will eventually jump from the window of a burning high-rise. Make no mistake about people who leap from burning windows. Their terror of falling from a great height is still just as great as it would be for you or me standing speculatively at the same window just checking out the view; i.e. the fear of falling remains a constant. The variable here is the other terror, the fire’s flames: when the flames get close enough, falling to death becomes the slightly less terrible of two terrors. It’s not desiring the fall; it’s terror of the flames. And yet nobody down on the sidewalk, looking up and yelling ‘Don’t!’ and ‘Hang on!’, can understand the jump. Not really. You’d have to have personally been trapped and felt flames to really understand a terror way beyond falling.” ― David Foster Wallace