I was saving part of this for the end of the year, but I woke up to some news yesterday morning.
A friend’s friend took his own life. In the wee hours, someone realised he was no longer with us.
I didn’t know you, M, but I believe your legacy is far, far bigger than anything we’d ever imagine.
We talk about haunted places, but seldom do we talk about haunted people. Things die inside of us and we either choose to let the ghosts stay, or tell them to go.
Often the ghosts stay put because we make them a home. Pain is comfortable because it is reliable; we can count on it to come round time and again. And so they haunt us – at the most inopportune times. When we’re down and out. When we least expect it. When we’re alone.
The next day rolls around and suddenly it’s all about putting your game face on. It’s choosing the right outfit and painting on a smile so it’s all a-okay. Perhaps you’re hoping that if you smile wide enough and tell others often enough, you’d feel okay again.
When did it become not okay to not be okay? At which point did society decide that being haunted people was a bad thing?
I don’t know. And on days like today, I desperately wish I had some answers.
Jamie Tworkowski once wrote that God must be a pretty big fan of today, because we keep waking up to it. And if you’re still here, He (along with many other people, even if you don’t believe in Him) wants you around too.
If it’s all too much, it’s okay to say no. It’s okay to take a break.
It’s okay to not be okay.
The ghosts inside of us are pesky little things. They will not leave of their own volition – they need to be shown the door. Perhaps it starts by being honest with ourselves, that things are not okay, but that is not the end of the story. Perhaps it involves some chocolate, some cake, and honest conversations with trusted friends. Perhaps it takes some courage to do all of those things.
Perhaps healing starts when we stop, breathe, and admit we need other people. Perhaps it’s taking a step, a small one, and letting them in. Because if you are still around, it is not too late. It is never too late.
It is my prayer that even in the depths we try to believe in the light. Because it is there. Because you matter. Because you are loved more than you ever imagine.
“How are you?”
“Are you okay?”
We ask these perfunctory questions and sometimes hope for generic answers.
The difficult conversations are difficult for a reason. They are heavy. And you may not know how to respond.
Maybe the difficult conversations don’t need answers. Maybe the adage “a burden shared is a burden halved” is true. Maybe we need to be better listeners, and be ready to admit, once again, that’s it’s okay to not have it all together.
Let’s endeavour to have better conversations. To be ready to lend a listening ear, a shoulder to cry on, or to buy ice-cream if that’s needed. Let’s seek to understand, even if we don’t at first.
And on days like these, even when it hurts, let’s remember those whom we’ve lost. Let’s celebrate their lives, knowing they’ve left something indelible behind. Let’s make that count.