Human character is resilient. It is flexible, almost pliant in the many ways it will bend and stretch in order to accommodate the quirks of a volatile society in general, the demands of the workplace and the nature of friends and loved ones in particular. We as individuals accept bad manners, snubs, slights and all manner of indignities for the sake of keeping the peace or getting the job done. The best in us shines unfalteringly when dealing with human tragedy, from flipping a coin to a homeless person or saving wildlife caught in the crossfire of human progress.
Many are the tales of saving stranded and starving people all across the globe, ordinary citizens we, doing what we can to ease the suffering of others in some connected yet still existential way. Most of the times these events are elsewhere; they are not in our own backyard. More specifically, they do not typically affect us directly.
A friend of mine of some twenty years tried to kill himself two weeks before his next birthday. I have never lost a friend from AIDS. No one in my generation has died suddenly or tragically from an accident, natural disaster, act of war or a calamitous disease. We all are aging gradually and for the most part gracefully, the way things are supposed to happen. The problems of the world have remained outside my door. Had.
I love my friend dearly. This is a friend that fits the sentiment that I would willingly lay down my life to save his. I would take a bullet for him, jump in front of a car for him, face down a snake for him, etc. The problem is those unconditional sentiments are most often meant for circumstances where the friend is under attack or in imminent danger from something else, not his own hand.
The signs were all there and broadcast regularly which is both good and sad. Many challenges piled upon my friend over time to simply create the lowest feeling of despair and hopelessness. Many conversations about everything from the meaning of life to the all in question of why go on trying. Ad nauseum were the same topics discussed to the point of frustration on the part of his friends, myself included. He was telling us he was in great danger of harming himself loud and clear - we were powerless to do anything about it, unable to provide the answers he wanted or the professional care he needed.
Even lengthy professional care was were apparently not enough to prevent this act of abject fear and desperation either. They either had just started to break through to the deepest levels of woe or had hardly scratched the surface. In any event, the science of the human mind is far from perfect and no doubt his clinicians were caught off guard as much as his family and friends. One and all we are all relieved that the attempt failed.
His issues are his to deal with privately as is the method of his attempt. Neither issue is the point or open in this forum for public consumption or debate. My friend is the kind of friend anyone would truly want to have. He is loving, gentle, of faultless character and solid Middle American values. He is quick witted and blessed with mischievous eyes that light up a room already flooded by the infectious laughter of someone having a really good time.
I have traveled with my friend and he is a good companion on the road or overseas. We've been around America and to the ends of the earth, sharing new cultures and almighty belly-laughs together. It's time for me to go to the ends of the earth for my friend.