30/30: Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock


Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock
Matthew Quick
YA
Trigger Warnings: Suicide/Depression

Summary

In addition to the P-38, there are four gifts, one for each of my friends. I want to say good-bye to them properly. I want to give them each something to remember me by. To let them know I really cared about them and I’m sorry I couldn’t be more than I was–that I couldn’t stick around–and that what’s going to happen today isn’t their fault.

Today is Leonard Peacock’s birthday. It is also the day he will kill his former best friend, and then himself, with his grandfather’s P-38 pistol.

Maybe one day he’ll believe that being different is okay, important even.

But not today.

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Abrupt Horror


Everything affects everything.

Jay Asher, 13 Reasons Why

I have a pretty good life. Not many bad things have happened to me. But recently I’ve had some breath-stopping, heart-pounding, stomach-turning moments.

“The baby has a heart defect.”

“They’ve found his body.”

“Something horrible has happened.”

Freeze. Feel the paralysis that abrupt horror creates. 

Most of these moments haven’t even been directly related to me. It wasn’t my baby. It wasn’t my family.

And in some ways, that makes these situations stranger for me. I’m hurt, I’m gutted, I’m crying, but there is nothing I can do. My coworker asks if I’m having a bad day, to which I incoherently reply, “No. Well, kinda. Yes, I guess so.” There’s no way to explain the small anchor on my heart, the tragedy that isn’t close enough to warrant stopping life long enough for grieving.

One of the boys I grew up with committed suicide.

He was the last person I would have expected. (everyone says these things) He was one of the happiest, kindest people I knew. (that light is gone and I can’t believe it) There was no warning, no signs. (there are almost always signs)

But I wouldn’t have known if there had been.

I went to college. He stayed home. We exchanged some Facebook messages, but to be honest, I probably haven’t talked to him in 2-3 years.

And now…well, now that feels like a mistake. Like something I could have done differently if I had bothered to care more.

A few days after he died, I reread 13 Reasons Why, Jay Asher’s seminal YA work on suicide. I read it first many, many years ago. I haven’t read it since because I was afraid it wouldn’t seem as powerful. I was afraid I would be disappointed. Then I heard Jay speak and with the timing, it seemed like a good read.

It was. It didn’t give me any answers (there aren’t any). But it reminded me–again–how important it is to care about the people around us. To go out of our way to show them that we care. To tell them that they matter.

A few days later, I read “Letter to an Ex, on the Occasion of his Suicide.” [Note: strong language, read with discretion.] It was as heart-breaking as I should have expected. Masha made sense of what I couldn’t:

The more time goes on, the more I think being a grown-up means accepting that you might have done your best, but still it wasn’t enough to prevent harm. It wasn’t enough. And for this I bear responsibility.

I want you to:

  • Read 13 Reasons Why
  • Act like you care about the people in your life
  • Care more
  • Breathe. Cry. Write. Fight.
  • Don’t ever forget.

 

If you came to my blog looking for standard book reviews, you can find them further down in the feed. This isn’t a typical book post, I know. But I think this is the soul of reading. Reading is often how we process, heal, make sense of our desperately painful world. I’m trying to be more intentional about showing that reality. Thanks for reading. 

All the World a Story


Do you ever have the feeling that your life might just be one long story? Do you ever wish it was? These questions tend to haunt me…I see in my own life the ups and downs, conflicts and resolutions of the many, many stories I have read. My wish is always for that happy ending, the quick and painless conclusion to my confusion. But I’m just a character, not the reader. For me the resolution may take days or years, not the few hours it would take to simply read about it. Admittedly, this leaves me often frustrated and discouraged, stuck on the slow path, unable to see the plot map of my own story. This has been one of those weeks.

For those of you who struggle with the same feelings, let me share the insight that carries me through. Ultimately, I do know that there is a happy ending. I also know the Author of my story. While I may not be able to see the plot map, He can and His resolution is better than any I could dream up myself. I am not just a character. I am a character that He loves and for whom He is writing a wonderful, beautiful story.

For now, I carry on day by day, page by page, with the belief that there is a happy ending and that any current conflicts are necessary for the plot and for my own development.

On a calm summer night


I ran across a poem at work the other day. My job involves a lot of copyediting, so I frequently browse the text without really reading it. This caught my attention though.

Richard Cory

Whenever Richard Cory went down town,
We people on the pavement looked at him:
He was a gentleman from sole to crown,
Clean favored, and imperially slim.

And he was always quietly arrayed,
And he was always human when he talked;
But still he fluttered pulses when he said,
‘Good-morning,’ and he glittered when he walked.

And he was rich – yes, richer than a king –
And admirably schooled in every grace:
In fine, we thought that he was everything
To make us wish that we were in his place.

So on we worked, and waited for the light,
And went without the meat, and cursed the bread;
And Richard Cory, one calm summer night,
Went home and put a bullet through his head.

Edwin Arlington Robinson
Take a minute and let that sink in. I have never personally attempted suicide, but I know people who have, and I have considered it before. The people who are depressed are often perfectly normal looking. They will likely not tell you verbally that they are depressed or that they think life might not be worth it. You have to search it out….be there for them. Give them a reason to live. Please, next time you see someone who seems down, even in the slightest, don’t ignore it. Sometimes the most miserable people are the ones who are super friendly and look like they have it all together. If you ever see a flash of misery or an unguarded moment when they look depressed, notice it. They may be struggling. Suicide isn’t something you ignore. Take it seriously. You could save someone’s life.