of Joes

February 17, 2012

This is Joe. Joe Clyde.
Please, say his name. Aloud or to yourself.
Please acknowledge him. Affirm with me, that he lived.
He was kind, generous, funny, reserved, complex. He was my co-worker and he was my Friend.
I normally resist these public expressions of such private revelations but my regard for this Man, and the loss of him, compels me.
When someone takes their own life, we are left wondering if somehow we might have made a difference, if we had could have reached out to them more, possibly stemming the anguish that propelled them. The truth is…probably not, but that the demons that tortured Joe and the too many others, are often entrenched and irreconcilable.
Before working on the Coronado Bridge, where I was to intercept potential jumpers, I had very little understanding of suicide or those that were so destitute of hope or choice. I have little more understanding now but have considerably more compassion for those considering it.
Occasioning within feet of someone ending their own lives, can have that effect.
By no means a mental heath expert, I am still hesitant to assign the ever convenient labels of “sick” or “deranged” to the anguished.
Desperate, perhaps. Resigned, assuredly, but also maybe just tired. Too exhausted to continue the daily toil of convincing themselves they matter, are loved, needed and have purpose.
Of course, there are some that consider the end for spite. To lash out in an unforgettable, irretractable measure to burden some remaining with the guilt of conclusion.
Some consider the opposite. Driven by the genuine concern for loved ones and wanting to save them the trial and grief of watching a slow agonizing wasting from disease. Say nothing of wanting to end the needless physical pain of an already determined end.
As a Catholic, it is not a path I could ever take. As a human being, it is not one I can condemn either.
The choice to end one’s own life invariably touches the lives of so many left behind but ultimately the decision to leave us can only be that of the soul that is faced making it.
Even so, say his name now. Aloud or to yourself and then…someone else’s, someone else you know that might brighten or take heart that you called, asked after them, wondered about their well being.
I pray Joe finds the peace now, that proved so elusive in life.