6.28.2007

How Precious a Life

An old friend of mine sent me an e-mail today. I don't think we've communicated for more than a decade. In his e-mail he told me that his son, Sean, was shot (nearly 4 years ago now) by police officers in an attempt to suicide-by-cop. I was his son (and daughter's) nanny for about 4 months during college. Sean (and his family, no doubt) to recover from the shooting. As I was wrapping my mind around this (and reading newspaper accounts of the tragedy), I received a phone call from Lane letting me know that my friend Barbara had died.

Barbara was a woman in her mid-60s with whom I visited most weeks for the 13 months I was at Transfiguration. We shared ice cream at Oberweiss, a game of Scrabble at her dining room table, and stories about her cat Baby and my dog Gabby. Despite multiple physical set backs over the years she maintained her sense of humor and I could always count on her for a good chuckle.

Barbara often would tell me, "I am not afraid to die, I'm just not ready yet." She wanted to see her grandchildren grow up, she wanted to be with her family and, more than anything, she wanted them to know how very much she loved them all. She agreed to receive care from hospice about a week before I left Transfiguration. And I trust that her death was the result of her deciding that she was, in fact, ready now.

All of this to say: life is precious. Tell those you love that you love them. Tell them everyday. Tell them until they are tired of hearing it and can laugh with you about how often you tell them. Tell them because you never know when it will be too late.

Rest in peace, Barbara.
Be at peace, Sean.

And this from the National Institute of Mental Health:

What should I do if I think someone is suicidal? If you think someone is suicidal, do not leave him or her alone. Try to get the person to seek immediate help from his or her doctor or the nearest hospital emergency room, or call 911. Eliminate access to firearms or other potential tools for suicide, including unsupervised access to medications. For more information about suicide, please click here.

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