Before I wrote this, I didn’t even know it was World Suicide Prevention Day. Another blogger informed me. But it just so happens that a few weeks ago, I read a beautiful piece in the Associated Press on assisted suicide:
I’ve been a proponent of the Hemlock Society for most of my adult life, death with dignity. Especially since Bill chose to bow out on his own terms.
Then this last week, I read an an article on Congresswoman Wild’s story on suicide prevention following the unexpected suicide of her partner. I wonder, how much less traumatic would it be if we could have a conversation and plan our death the way Robert Fuller did in the AP story?
In the case of Rep. Wild’s partner, the article mentioned he was depressed partly because he had had a botched surgery that left him in chronic pain and the things that he enjoyed most such as jogging 5 miles a day, he could no longer do. And that struck me.
Maybe jogging was his coping mechanism. Like dancing is mine. Or maybe he just thoroughly enjoyed it so much that when it was taken from him, nothing else adequately filled that space. But I also know how chronic pain can suck the joy from us. My mother has been suffering for decades and until medical marijuana was legalized in my state and made the pain bearable, I was dreading but fully anticipating her eventually giving up.
You get so used to being in pain that you don’t even consciously think about it but unconsciously, it taints everything in your life. Low-grade, chronic pain is a current running through your nerves end-to-end, eroding your psyche and quality of life.
Combine chronic pain with being robbed of a daily activity you enjoy most like dancing or jogging… and it’s not that life is over but life as you needed it to be is over. The light has gone out. And shut the f-up about it being “selfish” or “just find something else to do that makes you happy”…
He loved running. And then he couldn’t run anymore.
And then I think about how much I hate running.
I have at least a hundred excuses why I can’t or shouldn’t run. Everything
ranging from bad knees to I need to have external motivation like Pennywise
chasing me. The funny thing is I follow a few blogs from joggers. The reluctant
joggers are my favorite because they are relatable. I try to find inspiration
to run in their tales of miserable slogging and “just do it” attitude. They are
inspiring but still not enough for me to run. It’s 100 degrees
here. Global warming makes it 120. I could wait til the sun goes down but then I’ve
lost my steam. My iPod isn’t charged or I’m not particularly feeling my current
playlist. It’s wet. It’s dark. I might trip. I might get hit by a crazy driver
speeding through the neighborhood. My dog doesn’t want to run either. He says
we should call it an early night because he heard me reading aloud from some random
health professional that sleep is just as important as exercise when you have
an autoimmune disease. And life is short. Too short to
do things I hate such as running.
But I can run. Not fast and not far but I am physically
capable where others are not. Where the Congresswoman’s partner was not. And it
eats at me a bit, clearly. Maybe I should run for him. Maybe I should run for
everyone who can’t. Maybe I should run for my mother because she’s still
hanging on through the pain, partly because she knows I need her to stick
around. Maybe I need to run because for some, that simple act that I hate so
much, might have been the difference between a life and death decision. Of course
it doesn’t bring him back. And if he was alive, I’m guessing he wouldn’t give
two shits to know anybody was running for him. Just like I
wouldn’t be satisfied watching someone dance for me if my own legs were lost. I
understand that much.
So I have a nagging sense that I might need to run for him. In my own struggle with pain, illness and depression…it’s a silent, lonely battle. I should run for us both. Because I still can.
But shortly into the slog, I began walking which ended up being a leisurely 22 minute per mile stroll while reviewing choreography in my head. Not a run. But it’s a start.