I had intended to write a bit about Ascension Day. It’s something of a forgotten day. If you lived in Europe you’d have the day off thanks to the remains of Christendom. But in the USA it’s the only festival of the life of Christ – right there in the creed! – that gets shuffled off. I suppose that’s its own fault for not falling on a Sunday.
But I got a call midweek that changed my intended topic, because as important as Ascension Day is, this seemed more so. Dad called and let me know that a cousin of my had committed suicide. I share this not in searching for sympathy. As with many family ties these days, it had been years since we had talked, more specifically played Euchre while eating on Thanksgiving or Christmas. He was significantly older than I was, but at a time in life when I was playing sports, he had just embarked on a coaching career in the Texas High Schools. And in remembering Mike I started to remember too many others. The hometown friend. The high school roommate and friend who I had just reconnected with not long before he took his life. The HS basketball teammate. Two college hallmates and study partners. And it struck me that six people with whom I had been close at least for longer stretches seems like a lot. Although these days I’m not sure. As another correspondence friend said, “there seems to be a unique despair in the air these days.”
Now I don’t have any great insights. Maybe I was just a lousy friend for losing contact over the years. In many of those, opioids were involved. Another correspondent brought up marriage. I replied that 3 had never been married, but two were still married and 1 was in the midst of divorce. The social scientists that track these things have all kinds of correlations, but they are quick to say correlation is not causation. My intuition is that everyone is fighting their own private battles. And ranking misery is always a losing game.
The only thing I really have to say is, if you find yourself at that point, please give me a call first. Don’t call the church line. That is only watched Tuesdays and Thursdays. If you don’t have my cell number, it is on the outgoing message there. It is in the bulletin every week not far from here. Take this home and program it into your phone today. If you find yourself there, bother me. I’m not going to solve your misery, as much as I might like to. I’ve read the book of Job too much and been in this office too long to think I have that power. But the one common thread of all of those is they were alone. If you are there, trouble me. I can make sure you are not alone at that point.