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Category Archives: death

On losing hope

I’ve had at least one Army buddy commit suicide in the last several years.

It’s not something any of us like to think about, but it’s not an uncommon phenomenon. At least 20 veterans take their own lives every day, according to some reporting. Whether you believe that number to be inflated, it doesn’t matter. Veterans die by their own hands, and it’s not hard to imagine why.

Loneliness, nightmares, post traumatic stress, that feeling of being trapped, of being reviled, of being stared at on the street…

And that feeling of desperation isn’t just limited to vets. I was going to blog about “13 Reasons Why,” but I decided against it, because as interesting and well-acted as I found the Netflix series, I don’t like the view of suicide as a revenge fantasy, providing to the victim a scapegoat on whom to blame the pain and the ultimate act, and giving them the supposed satisfaction of being noticed, respected, and even loved in death that they couldn’t achieve in life. I won’t dwell on my issues with the series. I’ll point you to this article written by a licensed clinical social worker instead, which explains some of the issues I had with it.

But I’ve seen this desperation, this feeling of being trapped with no way out, this feeling of constant anxiety, malaise, depression, and outright terror that you will never get better. I’ve seen it in high school friends, and in family members. I’ve heard, “I wish you guys didn’t love me, so I could just kill myself without feeling guilty!” I’ve seen despair so deep, that I thought at any point, blood would start flowing from freshly opened wounds and drown me in its sticky agony.

I’ve told friends that life is a series of ups and downs, and that when you’re at your lowest point, there’s always a chance – however small – that your lifeline will begin to ascend again. But not if you stop it. Not if you end it. Not if you allow the hopelessness and despair to consume you and trick you into believing that this is the only option left.

Yesterday, Bob Owens made such a choice.

For those who don’t know, Bob Owens was editor at bearingarms.com and a fellow Second Amendment advocate and warrior.

He had a wife. He had two daughters. I cannot imagine the agony his family is feeling right now, having lost a husband, a father, and a friend.

The Washington Post wisely closed comments to its story. Scum such as Raw Story (no, I’m not linking to them) gleefully left the comments section open for vicious trolls to joyously roll around in the blood of a fellow human being while they revel in their oh-so-droll and tasteless snark.

In the end the fight to protect the Second Amendment lost a warrior, but a wife lost her world, two daughters lost their dad, and the community of online and real-life friends lost a kindred spirit.

I cannot imagine the desperation and pain Bob must have felt when he made the very final decision to take his own life. I cannot fathom how he thought his family would move on without him. I cannot judge another person’s agony.

I would, however, beg and plead with all of you out there who are experiencing the desperation and pain that is driving you to consider a very final, very irreversible cure to stop, reach out, allow those who care about you to reach for your hand and pull you up. You are not worthless, you are not cowardly, and you are not weak if you ask for help. Turning to another human being and taking the offered hand takes an immeasurable amount of courage. Allowing your lifeline to rise again takes an incalculable amount of will power.

Be stubborn. Don’t give up. Don’t lose hope. Reach out to everyone you can. We will help you.

The world needs you.

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Some 2016 Heresy for Your Wednesday Afternoon

Carrie Fisher was not a hero.

There. I said it.

She was a wonderful actress and a talented woman. She was strong and unfiltered. She was unafraid and funny. She was a cinematic and science fiction icon. She was born into what amounts to Hollywood royalty (for those of you who don’t know, Debbie Reynolds – THE Debbie Reynolds – was her mom, and Eddie Fisher was her dad), and she reaped the benefits.

fisherI loved her in “Star Wars.” I loved her in “When Harry Met Sally.”

I grieve for her family and friends, who have lost a loved one. No one should have to bury a child.

I grieve for cinema and for entertainment writ large.

But a hero? No.

She was a human being – a flawed one. She admitted to have had drug problems in her youth. Drugs take their toll on one’s body, as does alcohol. It’s tragic, but there it is.

By the way, at least 14 U.S. service members died this year during Operation Enduring Freedom alone. These are heroes, in case you wondered.

My social media feed for the past two days has been filled with tributes and memories. Many were touching. Many detailed the impact Princess Leia’s character had on a generation of girls. These are beautiful, no doubt. I understand the inspiration Princess Leia became for so many women out there, who looked to her as a beacon of independence, strength, and willfulness.

I can’t speak for all little girls, but I know that most – myself included – connected with Star Wars because of Leia; here was a girl who was in the thick of it with the boys, who wasn’t overtly sexualized (with one exception*) and didn’t need anyone to protect her. She wasn’t an accessory, and her princess label defied the Disney/fairy tale stereotype. She wasn’t waiting for a prince. The fact that she falls for Han Solo speaks to her feisty independence – he’s not interested in sweeping Leia off her feet or rescuing her.

A sign above the Mayor Clinic , Friday, April 22, 2016, in Minneapolis asks people to wear purple in memory of the pop super star Prince who died Thursday at the age of 57. Prince's "Purple Rain" was considered one of his best albums. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

A sign above the Mayor Clinic , Friday, April 22, 2016, in Minneapolis asks people to wear purple in memory of the pop super star Prince who died Thursday at the age of 57.  (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

It’s true, but aside from Carrie Fisher’s superb acting talent, this is also a testimonial to the outstanding writing and cinematography team that created the Star Wars movies.

I’m not sure why it is that we tend to idolize celebrities as we do. They’re human beings – talented ones, and sometimes very flawed, but human beings nonetheless. Their deaths, while tragic for their loved ones, will not change the course of the world.

Any time a celebrity died this year, my social media feeds exploded with memes, grief, and tributes. Alan Rickman… George Michael… Prince… David Bowie… Gene Wilder… Muhammad Ali… Anton Yelchin… Elie Wiesel… Garry Marshall… Leonard Cohen… Florence Henderson… Alan Rickman… just to name a few, were lost to us this year.

These talented, beautiful people are a great loss to music, the arts, cinema, and culture writ large. I grieve for their families and the loss of their gifts to the world.

And every time one died, it was major news all over the web. Tributes, speculations about causes of death, inevitable memes and graphics, and teary farewells dominated the news cycle, even as wars, carnage, and bloodshed raged elsewhere in the world.

(I will say I did not partake in the tear fest, neither here, nor on social media. It’s not because I’m callous in some way, but because people die – whether in tragic car accidents, from cancer, from prolonged drug use, or just old age. My sole exception was a tribute to Hugh O’Brian, because of the indelible effect he had on my life and my development as a human being, and I do recognize that these artists, producers, etc. may have had a similar effect on others, so I’m not bashing others too, too hard on this issue. And at risk of sounding like a concern troll, I’m also disappointed in many of my friends, who are gleefully hoping for the deaths of the likes of the President, the President-elect, Hillary Clinton, and other politicians they don’t like, since 2016 seems to be on a roll. I’ll be the first to admit I won’t shed tears if Nancy Pelosi bit the big one in the next few days. Hell, I didn’t when John Murtha croaked, but to gleefully wish for death of politicians whom you don’t like, or with whom you disagree… it’s a bit much.)

So yes, I realize I’m committing science fiction blasphemy by writing this post the day after Carrie Fisher’s death, but I felt it needed to be written.

Fire away.

 

On dying

I’ve been thinking about dying lately. No, I’m not terminally ill or anything, but still… with reports about California’s assisted suicide law having gone in to effect, my mind has gone into overdrive.

A few days ago, the Daily Mail ran this story about a woman who, at 41, became one of the first Californians to take advantage of the state’s new doctor-assisted suicide law. I’m not sure if “take advantage” is the correct term for this. As someone who loves life, it’s hard for me to imagine making the choice that Betsy Davis did.

In early July, Betsy Davis emailed her closest friends and relatives to invite them to a two-day party, telling them: ‘These circumstances are unlike any party you have attended before, requiring emotional stamina, centeredness and openness.’

And just one rule: No crying in front of her.

The 41-year-old artist with ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, held the gathering to say goodbye before becoming one of the first Californians to take a lethal dose of drugs under the state’s new doctor-assisted suicide law for the terminally ill.

als2After the party, Davis took a cocktail of drugs and peacefully slipped away with her loved ones and her doctor and massage therapist at her side.

To me, a healthy person reading this account, it’s unthinkable. I cannot imagine the kind of pain you have to be suffering all the time in order to want to end your life!  I wuss out and cry when my leg hurts for a few hours. The thought of suffering interminable torture 24/7 is horrifying!

But maybe that’s why Davis’ story resonates with me to such a degree. I cannot imagine the type of hell she’s been living in, unable to brush her teeth or even scratch an itch, and in constant pain, and I cannot imagine passing judgment on another person’s suffering, or how much of that anguish a person can tolerate. It boggles my mind that California had to pass a law to allow doctors to alleviate their patients’ suffering! I would have thought that this would be common sense.

That’s why I also don’t understand people who are so fucking selfish that they would pressure a loved one to prolong their agony, so that they could feel better about having them around!

Wesley J. Smith writes in a National Review Online article, “Would Davis have hesitated–delayed or changed her mind, perhaps–if enough of her friends and loved ones had said, ‘No, I won’t attend a party as prelude to your suicide, but I promise I will be with you until your natural end and do everything I can to make that a worthwhile time?‘”

How dare you! How dare you suggest that somehow Davis’ physical agony should take a backseat to “friends and loved ones'” desire to keep her around? How dare you advocate that people encourage their loved ones to continue suffering on their behalf? Unless you’re a wizard who can remove her pain, I doubt there’s anything you can do to make that “a worthwhile time,” you dick nozzle! Pressuring individuals living in perpetual pain, with no hope of survival, and only a long, painful road to death remaining when they have made a decision to go on their terms, only benefits those who will miss the afflicted individual once they are gone. How disgusting that some would want to pressure suffering people to stick around a few months, merely because they aren’t ready to let them go yet!

This woman went peacefully to sleep, watching the sunset, after celebrating her life with her friends and loved ones. She went on her own terms. She made the choice not to live in the hell that was her body any longer. She went with grace and dignity, not screaming in agony and unable to draw breath. Her doctor helped release her from her pain.

And jerks such as Smith have the unmitigated gall to claim every one of her friends who attended the party to say goodbye to someone they cared about and to support her in her choice to end her pain is held morally responsible for her death? What a repulsive attitude!

The illness is responsible for her death.

The illness robbed her of her body, trapping her in pain, and bringing untold suffering.

The illness is the evil here – not the people who supported their beloved friend in what must have been an agonizing decision!

And this Smith asshole has the balls to claim they should have pressured her to suffer longer?

What the fuck kind of people do that?

Don’t attend the party if you don’t feel comfortable, or if you’re too devastated at the loss of your friend. It’s understandable. Celebrate her life instead – in your own way, if you need to.

It’s your choice and your right, just as it is her choice and her right to decide when she’s had enough pain and suffering. Respect that.

But ferfuckssake, don’t be so callous as to try and force her to prolong her agony just because you’re too selfish to let her go!

Пусть земля ему будет пухом (Rest in Peace)

The designer of the Kalashnikov rifle – the AK – has died today at the age of 94. Mikhail Kalashnikov died after a long, unspecified illness.

Mr. Kalashnikov said the automatic rifle was designed “to protect the motherland” after World War II. But the AK-47 and its descendants and knockoffs became mainstays for armies and guerrilla soldiers around the globe. Light, durable, cheap to manufacture and simple to maintain, the rifle creates a deadly spray of bullets without much of a kick.

[…]

Mr. Kalashnikov said he regretted that it became the weapon of choice for guerrilla armies. “It was like a genie out of the bottle, and it began to walk all on its own and in directions I did not want,” he told Britain’s Guardian newspaper in 2003. But he added, “I sleep soundly. The fact that people die because of an AK-47 is not because of the designer, but because of politics.

In a lot of ways, Kalashnikov’s life is an homage to the self-made man.  His family was sent to Siberia after his father was deemed a class enemy, and his family’s land was stolen. Kalashnikov, nonetheless, used his mechanical prowess to design a light, effective, durable rifle that is still being used today. He was a testament to overcoming challenges.

Rest in peace, sir. You’ve earned it.

Death

Nidal Hasan bought himself a one way ticket to hell yesterday. One could say that ticket was purchased the moment he decided to unload his firearm bullets first at a bunch of innocent people, but he actually paid for that ticket yesterday when a military jury sentenced that murderous, extremist motherfucker to death.

I won’t rehash everything. You can certainly read about it in the numerous media reports that are out there today.

My only hope is that they don’t allow him to rot in prison, and that they do it immediately… slowly… painfully… until he finds hell on earth, before departing to whatever hell is reserved for murderous fundamentalist Islamic bastards.

Yeah, yeah… I know… wishful thinking. But one can dream, can’t one?

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