Anything that doesn't take years of your life and drive you to suicide hardly seems worth doing. ~ Cormac McCarthyI posted a response, to the effect that that was an awful thing to say, and then forced it out of my mind so that I could focus and write steadily for the next three hours.
After lunch, there was a bit more Facebook discussion, which got a little testy and then, relieved to have put my school quarter behind me, I packed up and drove home.
I spent some time talking to the nurse in my doctor's office ~ not great news, but not terrible either.
I thought about how to respond to an email from someone asking how I am. Since we haven't talked in months, I had to conclude that any attempt at a genuine answer is now way beyond my capacity. A reminder that if we don't keep up with people, we lose them.
I stopped at the bookstore to purchase Kay Jamison's Night Falls Fast: Understanding Suicide. A psychiatrist who herself suffers from bipolar disorder, she is an elegant and brilliant writer ~ but I've been told that this one is a very difficult read for survivors. I may set it aside for a few more months, but in the bookstore I did flip it open to a section on parents. The lifetime of guilt and sadness that awaits me ~ nothing I hadn't already figured out.
And all this time, I was thinking about that stupid quote on Facebook. When I got home, I read a few more of the comments that had been posted and realized that for the others in the dicussion, it was an intellectual exercise. They had found the quote provocative, while I found it repugnant and self-absorbed.
Last week I had dinner with a friend at school who casually remarked that she supposed that it might be suicidal for her to think of taking Greek from Professor So-and-So. I glanced at her and there was a brief flicker of recognition, and then she went on talking.
I wish it were a matter of intellectual debate. I wish it were a matter of casual slang. I wish I had not seen what I have seen, read what I have read, learned what I have learned. (And, given some of the descriptions of bodies and autopsies on the Parents of Suicides mailing list, I have gotten off easily.)
I wish I could be one of those people who sometimes say to me, Oh, we in our family came awfully close to having to deal with what you are faced with. There is an entire universe, filled with black holes and ricocheting meteorites, between "awfully close" and the reality.
Last week, I took one of those internet stress tests ~ you know the kind, that allocates points to life stress events. Under 150 is a good thing, 150-300 reflects increasing health risks, over 300 is not good. My score was 495 and I feel, on the whole, pretty balanced. As I said in response to that email that I didn't know what to do with, "One adapts."
In our case, to life lived in a very different world from the one inhabited by most of the people we encounter.
And not one in which suicide is something to be romanticized or joked about.