Every human heart suffers

When I was told of a friend’s sister’s suicide, it was like someone kicked my heart with a heavy boot – steel capped.

It was Monday of the long weekend and a cluster of friends were hanging around like a herd of cats on a sunny bank on the Murrumbidgee River, when someone told me the news.

We had gathered to release a dear friend’s ashes into the river, at her favorite swimming spot. We sat on the rocks and sang “auld lang syne,” then someone sang a river song. We watched the rose petals drift in eddies as if river and rose held each other tenderly in a goodbye kiss, never wanting to part. In the following silence crows cawed and cockatoos cackled from the far riverbank in eucalypt sun, a child’s laughter hugged by the warm winter breeze danced overhead.

Saying goodbye to this good big friend over the past few weeks has opened up my heart like a can of sardines. Her death has made my heart big and soft where it had been blackened and calloused from neglect, and stank of something fishy.

Now my fat heart cries at everything, from Doctor Who, a kid singing Danny Boy to a packed auditorium, to a sharp tendril of sunlight piercing the clouds turning a tree fiery gold, or a friend’s quick kindness. My heart is a leaky boat. I leak tears like my bathroom tap that needs a new washer.

As we sat on the rocks, I felt the happy sorrow of a good friend leaving. In her last days she felt loved. She was held in love as she left the world.

When I heard the news of the suicide there was no time to reflect. It is only now in writing that I open it out, and look into the sad place and wonder at this frail human family that I am so entangled with.

News of a suicide always comes as a shock. But especially when the person, at least from a distance, seems to have it all. It makes me think how easily we can judge others, or feel envy, blame, or some other response that separates us from another, because we only see the outward trappings but not into their tender straining heart.

Every human heart suffers. And remembering that we all suffer makes me kinder, makes my heart soft and fat and juicy, or wet and sometimes soggy.

All of us have moments, days or even weeks when we can feel lost in despair or grief, or some other nameless pain, when life crushes the wind from of our lungs. But there are also moments, or hours, of joy or connection, sweetness in beauty, or some other small miracle in the ordinary when the clouds part and the sun makes the sodden world glimmer and shine.

Perhaps the saddest thing about someone choosing to die is that they die alone. In their moment of leaving, or choosing to leave, they forget that they are loved, or perhaps even that they have been loved. Because in some bleak moments it is only this thin thread of love and kindness that makes us stay. Yes, when we feel lost in despair it is this thread between our infinitely fragile hearts that makes us stay, and sometimes rejoice.

May you rest in peace Kyle, and may your family and friends find peace in remembering your sweet face beyond that dark cloud that caused you to forget.

 

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