Saturday, July 18, 2009

RIP

I got a phone call this afternoon. A friend of mine from college is dead. He killed himself.

I have a picture of us, in a big group, from freshman year. We're all so young, all smiling, on the front steps of our house. It's spring; you can see the sunlight shimmering on the leaves behind our heads. We are at the beginning of something big, our salad days, the spring of our own lives. Hope drips from us like honey.

I want to ask why. I don't know the answer. I would ask how someone could come to that place, to a place where death seems like comforting respite, where it becomes a thing desired rather than ignored or feared...but I know how--it's a place I've been as well, and recently. A place where the dark is completely enveloping, where the moon is eclipsed, where it seems like there is no hope for any dawn. But I also know it's a monstrous untruth, a lie of the highest (or lowest) order. It denies that most basic of human instincts, one as powerful as the drive to eat and drink and breathe: the drive to hope. As Emily Dickinson wrote (who I would appoint to sainthood were I ever put to the task of developing my own religion):

Hope is the thing with feathers
that perches in the soul
And sings the tune without the words
and never stops at all

and sweetest in the gale is heard
and sore must be the storm
that could abash the little bird
that kept so many warm...

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