Thoughts on Mortality (Part 1. . . .I think)
Monday, February 10, 2020
To keep this from being a novel and to allow me to try and organize my thoughts rather than rambling, I think this is going to be a 2 part post. If I can fit it into 1, I will.
The end of 2019 and the beginning of 2020 have been full of lessons on how to approach life. I'm married to a man who was married twice before and consequently have 4 stepkids, two that he himself fathered and two additional that he raised. Two are doing well, one is married and lives about 10 minutes away with his wife and baby. The other lives in NC and we see her several times a year and talk to her at least once a week. It's the other two, a good friend, and my father who have offered these lessons.
My youngest stepson turned 23 in December and celebrated by getting completely smashed, did something that caused injury to his face, took a stroll down the middle of a busy road, and then tried committing suicide by cop. He thankfully "only" ended up getting tased and taken to the hospital, where he spent 2 days recovering from a concussion and alcohol poisoning. He's been charged with a bunch of stuff and goes to court in March. He lost his job as a result of the charges. It was unfortunately the latest in a long run of decisions that we fear is going to lead him to jail or death. After discovering in January that he had been served an eviction notice for not paying rent since August (while he was still working) and being a general all around asshole to his roommates, and had several traffic violations in two different counties we were able to convince him to move back in with his mom and we paid off his debts, not to get him off the hook but to keep him out of jail while we try and get him to change his thinking. This isn't his first brush with the law and it's not his first suicidal ideation either. He hasn't hit bottom yet. And frankly we're in a race against time to turn him around before he ruins his life when it's just getting started, it's a race we've been losing for the past decade and a half.
I also lost a good friend right before the holidays to a motorcycle accident where he was hit by a tractor trailer on I-75 in Florida. We talked often, usually when I was driving between Pennsylvania and Virginia for work, but I hadn't seen him in almost a decade. There was always a "next time" when it came to being able to visit. Either I was on the road when he was near Philly or if I was at home he was riding through the middle of the state, too far to meet up. There was always a next time, until there wasn't.
My dad is a former smoker who quit about 20 years ago after smoking for 40 years. He's been monitored by a pulmonologist for several years now and they found a spot on his lungs a few weeks ago. Cancerous. My dad is also a recovering alcoholic and a retired lineman who retired after several lineman friends of his of similar age and exposure to high voltage lines were diagnosed with and died from brain cancer. At some point in the middle of his life, my dad decided that living, and living well, was his number one goal. He stopped drinking for absolute good, he stopped smoking, and as soon as it became clear that his job was hazardous to his health in a way he couldn't control, he retired. He walked 18 holes daily and has a solid social network. And when the news came in about the cancer, he was in the hospital the next week and had a lobe of one lung removed to get rid of the cancerous nodule. He's still recovering but in good health so far.
The fourth kid had mental health issues for years. She was supposedly in therapy. We don't know if she was formally diagnosed, and frankly from what we observed therapy wasn't helping, as she would set up impossible tests that were unpassable to prove that you loved her, such as being able to drop everything at the last minute and drive 14 hours to be with her because she needed you, nevermind that you needed advanced notice to take off of work and that it was 8 o'clock on a Tuesday night. But that was old information because we'd been estranged from her for the past two years. She'd established a narrative in her head that we'd rejected her, which we hadn't and wouldn't and told us to never contact her, her husband, or her children again. So after trying to get through to her husband, who was working overseas at the time, that there were major issues brewing at home, we complied with her wishes. DH was able to occasionally reach her oldest daughter to try and maintain some semblance of contact but those opportunities were few and far between. This past weekend her husband had enough and told her that he wanted a divorce. This past weekend she decided that she had enough of being rejected and said that the world would be better without her and shot herself in front of her 12 year old daughter. She left behind 3 children, one of whom's last memory of her mother includes a gunshot to the chest. I don't know how that child recovers.
This post obviously has nothing to do with weight loss or sparking. But I've been thinking about those 4 incidents since they happened, individually and as a group, hoping to gain some sort of clarity. Her sister described Ashley as the most deeply unhappy person she'd ever met. And I believe that. But we see that same darkness in her brother. Not as bad, but still there. At what point do you turn it around and reach for life? And are there enough next times left to do so?