Eddie was a handsome man but dark and brooding with a distant look in eyes hidden behind aviator style tinted glasses. Our sons were best friends through grade school and Eddie's wife Karen had latched onto me. They lived in a house trailer on 20 acres a few miles away. A housekeeping disaster of a home, dirty dishes everywhere, dogs and kids tracking mud through out the place. Sheer bedlam compared to my household.
It was a Friday night during the summer of 2003 when the phone rang just before 11pm. Karen, in a frantic voice, "I think Eddie's going to kill himself!"
"Do you want me to come over? What do you want me to do??" I replied.
"He may just be laying down in the field next to his gun, he does that sometimes. I'll go look for him." was her response.
Stunned I hung up the phone and relayed the call to my boyfriend. Moments later the phone rang again. Karen had heard the shot ring out from the .44 and found Eddie in his deer blind, the blood still pulsing from his temple.
My boyfriend and I rushed over to their house and pulled in directly behind the police car. There was no need for an ambulance. Eddie was dead.
Eddie's two sons, Nicolas and Dustin, ages 9 and 5 went home with me and we did our best to keep them occupied. Nicolas and my son Jacob, along with sweet little Dusty, had played together often over the years of their friendship but this weekend was torturous. The boys didn't know their Dad was dead, this news had to come from their mom. I loved them up the best I could over that short period of time, knowing the truth would be next to unbearable. I can still hear Dusty's wail when Karen gave him the news on Sunday.
Eddie had planned his death in advance with a significant life insurance policy in place long enough to cover his family when he finally decided to pull the trigger. So they had money, but no husband or father. Both boys ended up on a cocktail of antidepressants. When Karen would rattle off their list of medications, I stayed silent, unsure what to say. Their fragile brain chemistry forever altered by some psychiatrist as if part of a ghastly science project. We don't choose our eye color nor our brain architecture.
My sweet dear friend Sirenita Lake has been given a death sentence. A woman that has lived life to its fullest, treating obstacles like gnats, she simply brushes them away. You know she recently took the bar exam? She is my inspiration to pursue forgotten dreams and keep those promises I've made to myself. Promises I tend to break, or at least neglect.
You see, Sirenita has stage 4 pancreatic cancer. She's been given 6 months to live. Here is quote of an email received from her this morning:
"If this looks like a drunk chicken staggered across the page it's because I've developed a problem with my eyes. I can only see blobs most of the time. I think it's temporary. Please call me when you have time or I will try. There's always sometime going on. Can you do me a favor. Please convey a message from me to the folks on the web page that I know several have left messages and I struggle with this temporary blindness. The love and support means everything. I apologize for not answering, but I care very much. Please also tell people that I am very peaceful and not the least bit frightened or unhappy. I have 6 months to live, and I will not waste time being sick trying to stay alive fpr tjree more weeks with toxic chemo. It was too late from the beginning, and I'm happy I lived the life I did and knew the people I knew and loved. I will spend six months traveling and being with loved ones, and hopefully saying important things. Thanks for everything you've done. This may well be one of the happiest periods in my life because of everyone's kindess."
Life goes on, as it does until it doesn't, we will all have choices, things we can control. We also have many many things we cannot. Embrace life, such as it is, and choose your attitude, this often within your control. Will you know the sweetness of happiness if not for the pain of sadness, of loss? Life has many nuances.
For those like Eddie living life in the throes of depression, the only advice I have is to lean on those around you that you trust and who love you. Get help. Choose life while you can.
For those of us on the flip side of the coin, like moi, we are our brother's keeper. Reach out to those in need. Lend a hand. Give a 5 spot to the homeless man or woman holding a cardboard sign. Make the world a slightly better place with the skills and gifts you've been given.