If you were sitting here at my kitchen table, I would tell you a long story about high school crushes, and a golden boy that everyone wanted to be like and liked by, and a heart-broken small town struggling with some kind of virus: its third youth suicide this year. I would show you the long text conversations with my daughter at school--the I can't handle this, the I just talked to him recently, I sat next to him in math, the why would he do this. We would sigh together, look out the window at the blossoming world and breathe in the scent of lilacs.
He wasn't mine to mourn but I mourn--for the possibilities he carried away with him and for the lost innocence of invincibility, that adolescent magical thinking. I keep thinking of the Housman poem--remember?
The time you won your town the race /We chaired you through the market-place; /Man and boy stood cheering by, /And home we brought you shoulder-high...
Now you will not swell the rout /Of lads that wore their honours out, /Runners whom renown outran /And the name died before the man...
And round that early-laurelled head /Will flock to gaze the strengthless dead, /And find unwithered on its curls /The garland briefer than a girl's.
You would hear the lump in my throat as I told you about this same brave daughter who just weeks ago came into our room late at night and threw a lifeline to another friend facing similar challenges and stayed on the phone, G's hand resting on her back, until help arrived and hope was found. It's hard not to wonder What's going on here? and its close cousin What can I do?
It's hard to get into too many details here and it's really not mine to tell. Let's just say:
Life is fragile.
You never know who is carrying around a heavy ache.
But I can show you the carving my dad sent us, an icon of my childhood walls made by his hands, that I opened yesterday:
Hug someone extra tightly today.