Thursday, October 02, 2008

National Suicide Prevention Week

Because of the week--which I had forgotten about--I'm reprising & excerpting some (edited) thoughts I had in Late May/early June 07 when a great friend--who had quite an impact on me--ended his own life. I doubt I'll ever fully recover from that.

If you need a happy, cheery, lighthearted post, come back later. This one isn't it. But I hope you'll let these words--mine, Donne's, & the others'--speak to you. I'd say "enjoy," but I 'spect you won't. I don't really mean for you to, frankly.

(excerpt starts here--the first part down to the ==== is what I captured in the evening after Mark died. Somehow, some of the writings of John Donne ministered to me greatly that evening. The part below that is from 8 days after he died when the dust had begun to settle.)

On the untimely passing of a dear friend...various words collected from John Donne (Note: these are from multiple poems of his)

Yet nothing can to nothing fall,
Nor any place be empty quite;
Therefore I think my breast hath all
Those pieces still, though they be not unite

As virtuous men pass mildly away,
And whisper to their souls to go,
Whilst some of their sad friends do say,

"Now his breath goes," and some say, "No."

Turn, thou ghost, that way, and let me turn this,
And let ourselves benight our happiest day.

THOU hast made me, and shall Thy work decay?
Repair me now, for now mine end doth haste;
I run to death, and Death meets me as fast,
And all my pleasures are like yesterday...
Only Thou art above, and when towards Thee
By Thy leave I can look, I rise again;
But our old subtle foe so tempteth me,
That not one hour myself I can sustain.
Thy grace may wing me to prevent his art
And thou like adamant draw mine iron heart.

This is my play's last scene; here heavens appoint
My pilgrimage's last mile; and my race
Idly, yet quickly run, hath this last pace;
My span's last inch, my minute's latest point;
And gluttonous Death will instantly unjoint
My body and soul, and I shall sleep a space;
But my ever-waking part shall see that face,
Whose fear already shakes my every joint.
Then, as my soul to heaven her first seat takes flight,
And earth-born body in the earth shall dwell,
So fall my sins, that all may have their right,
To where they're bred and would press me to hell.
Impute me righteous, thus purged of evil,
For thus I leave the world, the flesh, the devil.

Death, be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so;
For those, whom thou think'st thou dost overthrow,
Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
From rest and sleep, which but thy picture[s] be,
Much pleasure, then from thee much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee do go,
Rest of their bones, and soul's delivery.
Thou'rt slave to Fate, chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell,
And poppy, or charms can make us sleep as well,
And better than thy stroke; why swell'st thou then ?
One short sleep past, we wake eternally,
And Death shall be no more;
Death, thou shalt die.

PERCHANCE he for whom this bell tolls may be so ill as that he knows not it tolls for him. And perchance I may think myself so much better than I am, as that they who are about me, and see my state, may have caused it to toll for me, and I know not that...
No man is an island. entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend's or of thine own were; any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.

(back to Mike) So long, Mark. I loved you very much. So did many others. I wish you had known that, and that knowing could've made a difference. As long as I have breath, your legacy will not be reduced to events of that last morning; rather, it will expand to years of faithful loving service and obedience and ministry and seeds sown on fruitful soil that will, by God's grace, bear fruit for years to come. I am a better man...and a better husband...and a better mentor...and a better friend...and a better teacher...and a better apprentice of our shared Lord and Savior because you were my friend. Those thoughts are true of others too. I wish you had known those things too, and that knowing could've made a difference. Thanks, my friend. See you in the land of the eternal dawn! This world seems all the colder and alien today, and that one seems all the closer and more vivid and real...
With much love and a grieving heart,


What's inside of a container spills out when it's bumped;the same thing happens with people...First, let me promise not to continue dwelling on my friend Mark's suicide last year. Second, let me remind any reader(s) that such a thing leaves a very large wake that jostles the rest of us who are left behind pretty severely for varying lengths of time. Third, let me emphasize to all--if anyone's wondering--that adult friends of Mark's are in varying stages of dealing with his death. We're going through a journey through the valley of the shadow of death just like our young friends; your prayers are welcomed...and ours are passionately and repeatedly offered for our young friends.With those things said, I offer some semi-random blurbs...musings from these last 8 days.

--Encourage the encouragers in your life!
Wonder who those are? Then all who knew him, think of the image that comes to mind when I say these words: Coach Bryan. That, my friends, is an encourager. Make it a point to encourage such folks in your life, for they are a gift from God, and despite appearances, they need encouragement too.

And from the flames
As chance would have it
The Soulforged will come into light
And from the flames
As chance would have it
The Soulforged, the stainless will rise
Blind Guardian, "The Soulforged"

--Soulforged...a great song! BG is a metal group from Germany that's been around for nearly 20 years. James just turned me on to them last year. Their lyrics are very good and thoughtful, and the hard rock they produce is outstanding. Aside from the music, one of the reasons this has become a favorite song of mine is the image of a soul being forged in the flames. (alert: slight context violation by me...but humor me) I am certainly different as of these last months since Mark's passing. Better, I hope...more Christlike, closer to my God, a better man, more loving, more tender toward those around me, etc. And I'm here to tell you: I hate the forging process! But I'm confident in the work of my Maker, Redeemer, and Shaper...even when the process of forging my soul makes me hurt.

--In the midst of questions I cannot answer--never will be able to answer this side of glory--I am drawn back to those things that I know are true. To wit: the Gospel is God reaching through the muck & mire & crap & such to redeem His beloved. Not to immediately remove the beloved from the muck & mire & crap...but to redeem them in the midst of it. We serve a real God Who works in real ways in the midst of a real world. Would I do it differently? Yep. And it would be much worse, and less glorious. Any physician would agree that pain is an absolutely essential survival mechanism for the human body. One might argue the same point in the spiritual realm too, methinks. And through it all, I hear the words of the prophets: "Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?" and "You are loved with an everlasting love" and "My sheep were scattered; they wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill. My sheep were scattered over all the face of the earth, with none to search or seek for them."

--God's word is truer than anything I'll ever feel. That sentence is borrowed from a lady who watched her best friends die in a flood that she barely survived by climbing up a cliff. She then had to ID the bodies of her friends at the morgue. So her words come from the perspective of "been there, done that, it sucked, here's some truth."

--I love my friends. Those my age, and those *coughs* much younger than my age. *coughs again*

--Words matter. Those said, and those left unsaid.
The bitterest tears shed over graves are for words left unsaid and deeds left undone.
Harriet Beecher Stowe

--Friends are vital to life. I mean to life itself. And I have not cherished mine enough.

(back to Mike today, Oct 08)
That's what comes to mind as I'm reminded of Nat'l Suicide Prevention Week. Suicide sucks! It's almost basketball season; I don't guess I'll ever be able to watch a hoops game without remember my buddy Mark...especially in Rees Gym @ PCS. I will always be grateful to our shared Lord for Mark's impact on me, as noted above.

Would you pray with me that I'd never again let a friend suffer such anguish & hopelessness alone?

Miss you, Coach. See ya later.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Mike i know how you feel i have lost family and several friends to suicide. I understand how they felt and have often thought about it myself. You only know a person as much as they let you in. Most people who think this way are encourages,its my gift, and the reason why is that we don't want anyone to feel like us so when we see people who do something they feel good about we encourage them to do it more so they can be happy. The reason we don't let people all the way in is this. I was talking to someone today about how I felt because I know he has been there but he did the same thing everyone does. He tried to fix me and tell me what i should try to get out of the funk when all I really wanted is someone to confess to like God tells us to do. We just want an unshaming face with an ear that listens. If we wanted a doctor we would go to one. I followed your illness and I love the way you love life and want to stay here for a long time. I wish I had that and it seems that C illness always come to those who want to live. I prayed God would take your C and put it on me, because you wanted so badly to live and I want so badly to leave and see my Jesus. He made you better what a good God He is. I must have something to do here because I am still here. I know people who love life always ask why? when they are touched by suicide but we don't even know why we just know we are tired all the time and our minds don't stopped racing. If you don't mind I would like to post here for awhile. Its is easy to talk here because no body talks back. Pray God will break the chains of depression.