Thursday, June 06, 2024

life, or something like it

I thought I was sad yesterday. And then I woke up today. How could I forget that sadness is not a place but a condition... and that it can get worse. I was totally unprepared for the waves of sadness washing over me, had forgotten the way my whole body just hurts from the inside...

Big A found me wallowing on the sofa and then we read "What My Dog Taught Me About Mortality" together and I cried and cried and cried. And it felt good. It's like Big A is a sort of doula of sadness.

And then later in the day, I learned more about how our friend MM had died. He was well known, and the family don't want it kept secret. His 80+ mother kept stroking my hand while she said, "It's too late for M, but we can make it so it never happens to anyone else." He died by suicide. Two days before his 60th birthday. 

The visitation was wild--the line snaked out of the building and Big A and I spent over two hours in line waiting to see the family--MM was that beloved in the community. His patients LOVED him. He really did light up the room. He really did make you feel what you had to say was important and deserved his whole attention when you talked to him. He really must have delivered half the babies in this town. 

We'd kind of lost touch when we moved six years ago, and I wish I had been a better friend. L, his 24-year-old, did such a great job greeting visitors in the ante room--joking and hugging people, keeping things light. And then L remembered the last time we'd all been together... around a dinner table... a simpler time, unaware of what the future would hold. We both teared up.

I don't have a good way to end this post. Perhaps someday I'll understand better. Know how to draw a lesson from all of this.


Nicole said...

Suicide is so sad, it is just so sad to know how much someone was suffering - and maybe no one really knew. Probably no one knew the extent of the suffering, so learning that a person died by suicide is such a shock. It's just so very sad. I had a young student (yoga student) several years ago who was just a bright light in class. She moved away to Halifax to go to law school, seemed to have the world by the tail. A month later, she died by suicide and Maya, I was so shocked and saddened. I couldn't believe that I had known her in class all that time, and I never had a single inkling that she suffered. I guess no one knows.
What I'm trying to say is that I can see how sad this is for you and I'm sending you my Care Bear Stare, because I know, I really do, what a terrible shock suicide is. It's so hard to lose a person, but it's something else again when it is suicide.

Nance said...

I read that NYT article about Walnut and mortality. I thought of you immediately.

It's so terrible to say, but I've lost several people (some students) to suicide. The news is always shocking and sad, and it always feels like a personal regret in some way. To know that someone was so desperate and in such a dark place is truly awful knowledge. It's unimaginable, and I think that's why we struggle so much with it.

You have shared your life with many, many people, Maya. That means much Joy, but it also can mean Sorrows, too. When we open ourselves to others, we take all of them in. XXOO

Gillian said...

Take care.

StephLove said...

I'm sorry to hear it was suicide. That's very sad. I have friend who's active in physician suicide prevention. It's a big problem.

NGS said...

Hugs to you, Maya. I hope you have some measure of peace knowing that your friend was beloved and will be remembered fondly by so many.

maya said...

Nicole, Thank you for your Care Bear Stare <3 <3. You describe so perfectly the anguish that suicide leaves in its wake. I'm so sorry about your student... MM too had a gentleness about him, and I'm so sorry the world let these gentle souls down. Have you read Tommy Raskin's letter? It is a heartbreaker

Nance--You have no idea how much your last statement helped me today. It is a privilege to share one's life with people, and some of it is inevitably sad. I'm so sorry about your students... and I remember your posts worrying about them long after they were in your care, so I can intuit the toll it must have taken on you. But ultimately, your principle of putting more kindness into the world is the only thing we have control over. <3 <3

And yes, Walnut and Moby <3. Thank you for thinking of me.

Gillian--Thank you.

Steph--Thank you. I'm just learning how big a problem it is, and am grateful that people like your friend are engaged in alleviating that syndrome. I blame the corporatization of medicine--it just chews people up.

Engie--Thank you. I should try to remember it the way you framed it. (My impulse veers to the opposite--he was so loved and will be so missed--but that's not helpful.

reading between the flowers

I think teenager Cass makes a terrific point in  The Bee Sting  when she is irritated with the ubiquitous nature themes in poetry:  “You go ...