“If you can’t hold on, hold on” ~The Killers

I told my family I loved and appreciated them. I don’t say it enough even
though they occupy the first row of my mind. I’m nearly 43 and my mother
still covers me with a blanket. I fear the day she’s no longer here. I’ll be
alone and that’s a fact.
Last night, I was dry-eyed as I moved a few pictures of “C” to a folder
where they would be out of sight but not deleted. Even the picture of the
apple and honey as he observed Yom Kippur with me long distance.
I’m compartmentalizing, I think.
Although as I nurse my forsaken body from a the most punishing training in
years, the grief creeps into the stillness. Of all feelings, there is an
intense loneliness that I havent felt in years. Back when I used to think I
would die alone and cry myself to sleep barricaded by pillows at night.
Well, I still believe I will die alone but I had reached a space where I was
okay with that. Now, I’m back to wishing I had someone that I could call
just to come over and “distract” me for an hour or two. Take the edge off.
Touch me. But it can’t be just anyone. Who do I even want? Who even wants
me? Both faces are necessary to make a coin so I’m flat broke as ever.
Thirteen days, I’ll be another year older and had plans to again, again, to summit
mountains. One of my few friends will be with me this time and as honest as
we have always been with each other, I’m afraid he will mistake my
loneliness as an invitation. I don’t know if I’m physically capable of doing
10+ miles a day on a mountain right now with my knees and feet swollen and
taped. I don’t know if I’m up for conversation either.
During a round of acupuncture at a community clinic, I watched him through
my eyelashes: former Cavalry, Afghanistan vet, a humanitarian, a healer,
married with two kids. Two fat tears leaked out and I was grateful for the
darkness. All the good ones are gone. Or their dick doesn’t work.
Or they didn’t pick me.
That’s something my mother gently reminded me of. Maybe that’s not THE point
she was trying to make as the only person I’ve discussed the death of “C”
with. But that was my take-away and maybe what helps me cope when the image
of him unstaring, with a bullet hole in his head comes unbidden to mind.
“You offered him a better life, and he didn’t take it,” she said. Reminding
me, he didn’t choose me. If I hadnt completely moved on, I must now. That
business will have to remain unfinished. It was finished to him. I thought I
could “save” him but he didn’t want to be saved. How often do we do that to
ourselves? Cling, thinking we will be the unshakeable force of change in
someone’s life?
And I’m back to wondering if G-d exists, if there is a “plan”, if I have a
“purpose”, if I will die alone…

Later. X-rays confirm one of my feet is broken. Mountaineering is off. Well, postponed until September. I ate the plane tickets. I’ll be at work on my birthday but the worst part is my coping mechanism, dancing, is off the table for six to eight weeks.

“C”

I didn’t hear it from a personal source. No, I learned about it at work, in
detail. More detail than his family will see or know.
Sure, he told me he and his wife were separated, that they were getting a
divorce, that she was already seeing other people…he used to show me her
insane emails and texts and photos of the bruises and scratches she would
leave on him…I got a firsthand taste of her crazy when she found out about
us. But it doesn’t matter if she was nuts or if he lied about the separation
or how many girlfriends he had during his three marriages…none of that
matters because I loved him and it’s hard for me to call it a mistake.
Although it was the first and last time I ever got involved with a married
man. Every day, I drive by a road that bears his name and my eyes are always drawn to it. 
And now he’s dead. Shot in the head by an enemy sniper on a night raid in Afghanistan.
Obviously, because of the circumstances of our relationship, I can’t show up
at the funeral. His kids never met me and his still-current wife
would very likely attack me. And I’ve disrespected her enough already for my part in the affair. So with exception of messaging my mom and my three closest friends who knew what he meant to me, I’ll bear this alone. I
read an article in which his second wife gave a beautiful testimony. I’ll
keep it. 
Unsure about the necklace though. The twisted pearl he gave me for Christmas four years ago. I often thought about dropping it into the ocean, but couldn’t ever bring myself to do it. Holding on, like a charm that might
bring him back to me. It didn’t and now it never will. 
He was my Lightning Strike.  He was everything I desired in a man. Perhaps I was blinded by the chemistry which was unlike anything I’ve ever felt with anyone else. The way he would look at me, unapologetic. We were confidants and compatriots in arms before we were ever lovers. Sitting outside in the darkness watching for incoming rockets like shooting stars. He set the bar by which every man after him failed to hurdle.

Even so, I found the strength to break it off, telling him I was not the
“mistress type” and sneaking around and never meeting his kids was a reminder that I was indeed, doing something “wrong”. I hoped he’d follow through with a divorce and reach back out to me eventually but he never did. Although “C” once told me I was better to and for him than anyone
in his life ever had been, in the years that followed, I thought of him often and never heard from him. So maybe I was the only one between us that cared beyond the moment.
Maybe now I should bury that necklace, the same as they bury him. 
I’m oscillating between dazed indifference and involuntary bursts of tears.
I think of him, naked and shining, climbing atop the furniture in his room,
catching ladybugs and releasing them outside…

“I’m never gonna dance again the way I danced with you” – Wham!

“Those’ll come in handy for more than just eating” he cackled as I hand-picked zucchini at the farmer’s market last month. Dirty Old Man Bill was my nickname for him. He liked the Dirty Dancing moves, the slow seductive backbend into an upside down dip or the way he would grab my hips and show off for an audience “Shake it! You’re so bad! They’re eating it up!”  He was not only a phenomenal dancer and dance partner but my mentor, confidant and rock, especially when I was sick. But he was the one who was sick and I never knew. It wasn’t that I never asked how he was feeling, he just chose to shrug and not give his own problems the time of day. No one should wake up and learn from social media that a loved one has died but that’s how it goes these days. I called his phone, hoping it was a nasty prank or belated April Fools joke but his phone was off. He was a bachelor, no children, plenty of friends. Those friends now pouring out shocked sympathy onto a Facebook page of a man who would never read them. Sudden, unexpected, they remarked. But scroll to a post Sunday night from a clairvoyant friend of his who posted a eulogy on his board, thanking him for his friendship and “May the angels be with you on your journey”. And he REPLIED “Thank you”. Ten hours later, that same clairvoyant posted that he had passed. To the skeptic, it reeks of assisted suicide except that Bill was a devout Buddhist so that makes it unlikely. And it was a clairvoyant who apparently “saw it coming” hours prior. Part of me is stunned that he never hinted to me about this — we were close. When someone is facing death as a decision, they will tell as few people as possible and only those who need to know to support and facilitate that decision. So he didn’t tell me. But if it wasn’s some form of suicide, he still saw it coming and didn’t invite me over to say goodbye or stand watch with his Spirit Guides. Maybe he knew I wasn’t strong enough. But we talked several times a week and danced as recently as a few days ago. He was a paragon of physical, emotional and spiritual health. At 67, his stamina put me to shame and he was one of only two men I trusted to support my body weight on the dancefloor. At no point did he ever appear ill or even troubled but he knew about holistic cancer treatment and in hindsight, I wonder if that was a clue. And now I’m hoping to hear from his best friend, who I sent my phone number to via social media, to find out if there will be a memorial service. But knowing DOMB, he might have opted for cremation with his ashes to be sprinkled over Katmandu or shot into outer space… no “fussy” service at all. The day he died, or chose to die, he made a funny, typical comment on a photo of me at a Walk Off the Earth concert. He was a Force For Good and I often told him that. So Bill, I hope you know how much I appreciated your positivity and guidance. You leave behind an unfillable hole. I am heartbroken and untethered…

Love,

Your “Dance Goddess”

Tis the season to kill yourself

Several days ago, I posted a question for thought on Facebook: If G-d is omnipotent and “never gives us more than we can handle”, why is there suicide?

As hoped and expected-because this is a sincere question I have—it prompted a flurry of responses; And a few phone calls from concerned friends asking if I was okay. I reassured them that just because I broach the question of suicide doesn’t mean I’m also sitting behind the keyboard with a barrel in my mouth.

Yes, the holiday season sucks for me as they do for a lot of people. I’m unsure if it’s because the holidays just happen to be when the majority of lives traumatic events take place or if it’s theme of the holidays—Peace, love, joy, family, G-d—only exacerbate our sense of loss and loneliness with its irony.

But to answer to the question above, the concensus between the majority of my faithful friends is it amounts to “free will”. But there was some debate as to the part about G-d not giving us more to bite off than we can chew. It’s not in the bible. I knew that. But I wondered if it was insinuated somewhere. You know these modern translations get looser and looser. Next, the “New Jimbo Edition” or “G-d’s Word As Quoted on Pinterest” will get published and I’m sure that inspiration saying above will be included. It’s a comforting thought but is it TRUE? Did G-d say it?

Comments from friends and family included:

“I hate that saying. It’s not in the bible. It’s about Free Will and people are free to dish out as much shit as they want on others.”

“Because suicide is easy. And it’s all about free will with God. So the moment people do it or think about it GOD has nothing to do with it”

My favorite response, the one that comes close to truly answering my question is this:

“The phrase isn’t in the bible… I asked this question many times as a kid. Here’s the actual phrase. First Corinthians 10:13: No temptation has seized you that isn’t common for people. But God is faithful. He won’t allow you to be tempted beyond your abilities. Instead, with the temptation, God will also supply a way out so that you will be able to endure it. I guess you can deduce that they mean the same thing. But, the way I see it, there’s a heaven and hell, a God and devil. Suicide is one of those things similar to drug addiction. Sometimes it over powers the flesh and the devil gets a victory.”

And from my mother (even though I argue that the old testament stories she cited below may be allegorical):

“He gives us all the power to do everything successfully. We just don’t claim it. There were many people in the Bible who were deeply depressed- David, Elijah, Jeremiah to name a few. But what kept them from ending it all? In their despair, they cried out to God and He was faithful to give them strength to hold out for another day. And another. And another. Keep in mind God only gives us Grace for each day. You have to renew your strength by drawing close to God every day and asking for the grace to keep going that day. It’s very easy to say “I’m done. No more.” and end it. I certainly will never point an accusatory finger at anyone for a weakness that many know all too well. But yes, the devil knows when you’re down. He runs to whisper in your ears lies and words of discouragement. You can choose to listen to the lies or you can listen to the voice of Truth and know that God will walk you through the dark, carry you when you’re too weak to keep going and too tired to pray.”

And from a friend whose husband committed suicide due to chronic depression:

“We make our own choices not always God’ s choice for us. And do not think that suicide is the easy say out. Those who commit suicide just want the pain to stop. Often they see only darkness and sadly too many people in the world add stress and pain upon the person in trouble. I know this firsthand”

“ I think its cool you shared your thoughts/concerns about this. Depression is all too close to me and I’ve seen both sides of its effects. Oddly enough, I never link depression and suicide with faith. In my experience it’s all too complicated to judge, I mostly spend my time thinking about being my brother’s/sister’s keeper.”

“depression is an illness, mental illness has nothing to do with a book-the Bible. Good things and bad things happen to everyone and every family. There are answers and there is help for people suffering. This time of year tends to bring it out more than others. be compassionate and patient with those suffering-it can be a long and winding road for many..but, again, there is help.”

To this, I agreed with my friend. I know depression is a psychological illness caused by physical imbalances to which every sufferer has their own, personalized variety of ‘triggers’. But for me, the idea that there is no G-d or He is not listening to our prayers is devastating. That is not the G-d I grew up believing in. I pray (a lot!) out of habit rather than faith but if I stop to really consider that there is no one on the receiving end of those prayers, then I just lost my strongest Life Line. G-d—or the Hope of Him– is the seatbelt that holds me together during a crash.

And when the seatbelt doesn’t catch, I have a support system of friends and family that act as airbags.

One of the first ones to reach out to me out of concern was an Army buddy I met in 2009. At the time, he was going through his own personal hell and I held him and stroked his head while this grown man wept in my arms. I try to be The Rock, like G-d. I try to love like G-d. I seek to be His Conduit and spread positivity, love, kindness and comfort to those around me. I don’t do it because I’m trying to earn brownie points with Him, I do it naturally because it is what I was designed for or as Jane Austen put it (pardon me if its off, I don’t have the quote in front of me) “There is nothing I wouldnt do for those who are truly my friends. I dont know how to love people by ‘halves’. It isnt my nature.” Perhaps its enough to be put on this planet for the sole purpose of caeing for others. Im copying my friend’s message here because it is easily in the Top 3 Nicest Things Anyone Has Ever Said About Me and I don’t want to forget it. I want to have it here so that I can come back to it and re-read it when I’m collapsing under the burden of my own life. He wrote:

“I can honestly say to you, that you’re one of the sweetest and kindest people I know. I believe that you have a pure heart and you do the best that you can to live a life without a drop of malice running through your veins. I look at you and think of you as someone positive and I have even based decisions on how you would judge me afterwards. I said that so that you understand this: You have a purpose to the people that know you. And you have a unique way of infecting people with positive energy. Please don’t be hard on yourself. Take time for you everyday to meditate and clear out the fog. And be sure to take inventory of all that is right in your life. Look at where you want to go and just keep walking forward. And ask God to guide you the journey will have a way forging a proper relationship with him.”