Gulf Shores

Gulf Shores
Photographer Patricia Gulick

Sunday, November 24, 2013

8-19-13 RMB Enough

8-19-13 RMB Enough
Dear Rita Mae Brown,
The television I watch is a mixture of shows and movies that friends and family have told me about which I check out from the library, rent or buy. One show I enjoy is Rizzoli and Isles. Today the young, African-American actor that plays a cop on the show ended his life. He was 29. Lee Thompson Young died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
He had a successful acting career. His image lives on in the product of his craft. My heart goes out to his loved ones and his spirit, wherever it now resides.
The news brought to mind Freddie Prinze, who also took his life with a single gunshot on January 28th, 1977. My family was travelling from California to New Mexico to visit my mom’s relatives, a rare visit. We heard about it over the car radio. We had watched him on the show Chico and the Man, sometimes together as a family, and then we listened to reports of his death, together as a family.
There were few words spoken about it in the car. Each of us processed the information in our own way. I wanted to keep listening to the radio. Surely, they had made a mistake. He wasn’t dead. But as we passed mile upon mile of the desert landscape along an empty freeway in the middle of the southwest, it became evident it was true. It sunk in.
I remember curling up in a ball in the backseat, trying to disappear. I felt the sadness, sadness for Freddie. I was sad that he accomplished what I could not. I was sad that he was gone, someone full of such talent and yet there I sat, still breathing. Life made no sense to me.
A friend told me about Lee Thompson Young. Now, decades older, my reaction was equal in sorrow. However, now my sorrow is in that he did not reach the other side, sorrow that life made no sense to him…and won’t in this lifetime.            
Not that it makes much more sense to me than it did in the late 70’s, but I see more now. I see what good can be done, what good I can contribute, and that is enough to pull me to the other side. I see I can’t make everything better, but I can make some things better. I can see ways to better myself and every day I can proceed along in that direction.
When the call comes it is always unexpected. Sometimes it comes too late and the best one can do is be there for a family member. But sometimes the call comes when there is still time to help pick up the pieces and help rebuild a life. The answers are never clear and a fog blankets attempts to help, the same fog that edges one to suicide in the first place.
Search as we may, answers elude us. Why? How? What could I have done? When that call comes the best we can do is step up to console and heal, without judgment…for we are blind to what others face. We must remember we can’t make everything better, yet we can make some things better…and sometimes that is enough. 
Rest in peace,

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