I remember the time I knew what happiness was. Let the memory live again. ~”Memory” from the Broadway musical Cats
I am rarely unhappy. There are things in my life that I am working to improve, relationships that I wish had progressed differently, and even the occasional day of melancholy. I don’t ever feel a complete loss of hope. I sometimes have a bad day, but if I lay down and go to sleep the world seems bright and new upon waking. I suppose I am very blessed that way.
So, when I hear about someone killing him/herself it is extremely difficult for me to digest.
I have known a few people who took his or her life. Before today, the closest to me was Dr. Eddie Griffin who oversaw my student teaching and was an amazing mentor. He was dying a painful death and chose to leave this earth on his own terms. Although I have mourned him over the years, I understood his decision.
Today I learned that a man I have known since childhood took his life yesterday. Dr. Bob Taylor was a teacher and a student. He had one of the largest personalities I have ever encountered. I remember going over to his house and hearing him play the harp he taught himself to play. He played piano too and introduced me to “Memory”. I can still see him playing “When the Saints Go Marching In.” He was the first person I knew with a PhD. It made me want one too. People either loved him or hated him. There really wasn’t an in between. My parents were friends with him and his wife when I was young. When we’d go on vacation, he’d pull pranks like filling our bathtub/shower full of packing peanuts or planting a toilet with huge flowers flowing out of it in our front lawn. (Those things actually happened.) When I married, one of my bridal showers was held at his Victorian era home where his philosophy “If a little bit is good, a whole lot is even better” was well demonstrated. Grace Place was packed with things he’d acquired and loved.
I’m not sure what happened exactly, but my parents and the Taylors stopped hanging out. I was on my own by then and still landed firmly in the land of people who loved Dr. Bob. When I’d come home, I’d often stop by Taylor Gallery for a short visit. I even bought a few things here and there so that I could have a piece of his artwork. He leaves behind a huge legacy. There are kids he taught in the gifted program when he was a classroom teacher. He became a professor at Lander in the education department and impacted hundreds of pre-service and graduate level students and then their students who impact others. And that leads me to the thing that I just don’t understand.
I just don’t understand that kind of despair. How do you just give up on it all? I have had my heartaches and struggles. I have at times thought I was in a cave rather than a tunnel. I have never been there long enough to believe that my best choice was to cease living. I don’t understand how people can be in such despair and there not be help for them. How can folks who are so close to giving up live among us without us knowing and lending the hand that they need?
I sit here stunned and saddened. I’m just heartbroken that there are people who can’t see light at the end of their tunnel. If I have ever added a weight to the burdens you carry, please know that I love you and only want to be a support. There is no person I have ever met that I don’t love. So that means if you are reading this I love you and need you. Don’t ever ever ever give up. You matter. You matter to somebody. You matter to me.