Three years ago and some change, I stood by as an inconsolable friend and I waited outside an apartment to see if police would find our friend (a veteran) alive. He had left his front door wide open, turned off his phone, and taken one thing, and one thing only – his handgun. I came home with my friend’s snot and tears all over my shirt, which didn’t really matter because I had also leaked breastmilk everywhere, because when you’re waiting to find out if someone is alive or dead, you don’t pay as much attention to engorgement. All in all, it was a horrifying experience and I spent the better part of two hours preparing myself for awful news. This was after we were with him for multiple breakdowns, flash backs, you name it…some of the wildest stuff I’ve ever been witness to.
He came back alive. We felt so lucky.
Last Friday, one of my chef-heroes killed himself by hanging himself with the belt from a freaking bathroom. Whatever darkness he was in is probably pretty familiar to me. I’ve been there. Rock bottom can be a good starting point, and I realize how privileged I am to say that…because it’s not a starting point at all for some people. Sometimes rock bottom smells and tastes and sounds like the last day.
Depression is a monster and mental illness is a cancer among countless cancers in life. Life is beautiful. It is heartbreaking.
Unnecessary loss is always sad. Preventable loss is always sad. It’s always infuriating. We don’t like feeling helpless, just as a species in general, and so we fool ourselves into thinking our righteous indignation will save us.
But it won’t.
So if in your social media “personality,” you find yourself tempted to whine about how acknowledging one brand of sadness means you don’t care about another tragedy, maybe just stop. If you are co-opting tragedy to twist a narrative for yourself, just stop.
It all matters. It always did. It always will. Get over yourself and start loving people. It’s really and truly the only way to make an impact.