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03/24/2003 Entry: ""Out of Rubble, Reason.""
What an odd mix Sunday was... from the excitement of creating our Haiti itinerary, to protesting the war on Pack Square, a reminder of the turmoil that underlies our thoughts ( yet the daffodils still insist on being present ), to watching the glitz and glamour of an Oscars dressed mostly in black, an exciting phone call from a possible lover, to...
...my housemate walking in the house, voice trembling and full of tears, telling me that a friend in our circle had taken his life. He was last seen on Friday, being quite the entertainer, despite the storms of controversy he contantly had a hand in stirring. He was found today, and the person who found him literally cannot say a word he is so shaken. Phil had fought a hard battle with depression, the most severe kind, the terminal kind. Tried as many have to cure Phil, to pray that Phil would cure himself, his despair was too strong, and beat him in the end. Depression is an illness. It can be more severe than anyone can imagine. Phil's lonliness, his mania, all those things that drove his friends frequently to the edge cannot outweigh the laughter he brought, and the companionship he gave to those he trusted. For those that were driven to the edge always returned to the center. No one gave up on him, but himself.
I did not know him very well, but his passing reflected in the tear reddened eyes of my housemate remind me of the feeling of what it's like to lose a close friend. In January 1996 one of the wisest, silliest, most inventine and brilliant persons ever given to this Earth died alone from a heroin overdose. I've told many that John Hopkins could've changed the world; his treatises on economics and political structures could've uprooted the weeds that keep disrupting our garden. His smile and his willingness to goof, and be present for you were magnetic. When John died my world turned upside-down. I had been not too reserved about my abuse of certain substances, and the moment I heard we'd lost him was like a slap in the face. The thought of drugging away the pain brought me revulsion and sickness. As other formerly brilliant junkies sniffed the carpet for any spilled powder to ease the news of John's passing, I flipped out and tried to make them stop. They wouldn't, and even though I was nowhere near as bad off as they, their desparate scrounging for artificiality forced me to break out of my foggy egg and seek out passionately this thing we call life the very day we laid him to rest.
John, as endowed with wit and wonder as he was, was up to his eyeballs in sadness, fear, and isolation. His depression, like Phil's, was too much to bear. I have lived under the roof of a suicide-threatening parent, and even in my closet of bones have a secret or two of times that word became entangled intimately with my soul. I can only speak for myself that such extreme despair is preventable... not by teams of shrinks or even the well intentioned counsel of friends, but by one's own hand pulling up one's self by their own bootstraps. That is a skill, and not a matter of luck or reading a book. Not everyone has been given the skills to cope, nea, survive, with severe depression. I don't know if those afflicted would choose life if given the tools to manage it, who's to say? I'd like to think that John and Phil would have had a chance, but no one knows what the world really looks like behind another set of eyes. Tonight I feel fortunate to say that having seen the beauty of this world, nothing could dare take it away from me, not even my own indulgence.
For Phil's friends, this will be a trying time. They have puzzle pieces strewn far and wide, and may never get a complete picture out of them, especially if what they're looking for is "why." What we can hope for, however, is that they find, amidst the rubble of a life fallen, a reason for them to cherish our time here, and to create out of the pooling of their tears a river that swells in the joy of being alive and flows us to the purpose of our being here.
May peace abide with you.
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