On August 11 last year, I celebrated the anniversary of my not so glamorous injury. 23 years ago is a very long time. I did as I always do on one of these anniversaries, count my chickens and consider myself lucky to be alive with someone to love. That same day as I went about with my lukewarm life, I was terrified to learn of Robin Williams death. Alternating bouts of tears and disbelief I decided that it was very appropriate for this to happen on a day that typically finds me saying ‘thank you.’
Robin Williams was a very close friend of Christopher and Dana Reeve and an enormous benefactor to the cause of spinal cord injury research and treatment. I’m still deeply bothered by his parting because he is one of the few people left that could make me laugh. Ever since I knew him as Mork, he has made me look inside myself and remind me just how absurd this life and everything in it can be.
He managed to see glimpses of levity amidst the chaos, and that it leads to hope inside all manner of tragedy. The irony and the sting were equally as important as the sadness and the pain of our darker experiences. Then I found out that he had taken his own life. This led me to believe that he knew something that I didn’t. Is taking one’s own life an option? Is it a legitimate choice in trying to find peace? Can I still win while facing the darkness lost in my stillness?
I’m tired. I’m tired from lack of sleep. I’m tired from the level of my pain. Moving my broken body makes me tired. I’m tired of searching, looking for answers to questions that come from unknown, scary places. I thought I had a pretty good handle on it, being paralyzed from the neck down, abiding by my circumstances and whatever motivation I can muster from my family and loved ones. But damnit, after twentysomething years in a wheelchair I’ve been getting fed up with this life that I have to lead. It was during this time, heavy darkness came to rest alongside my spiritual self. This outcome caused me to explore my options. I began to think about suicide.
There. I said it. I thought about it long and hard. This wasn’t the half kidding, smartass thoughts. This was moving closer to meeting the creator and author of this mess in which I merely existed.
I suppose its inappropriate to talk about this but I had to relieve the burden. I have been struggling in this vein for some time and I even began to notice the timing of the train that ran through town. Its whistle became a death knell that called as I stared at the ceiling flat on my back. “Is this all I’m going to be?” Steve, even if the options didn’t seem logical, they seemed like the only sensible avenue toward finding the light that I’d lost long ago.
I later learned that his circumstances made it the right choice for him. However, they weren’t mine. But for the first time I understood why someone would do what he did. I still had enough mental and emotional fuel to rise back toward the light. The love I feel for my wife, family and people I have known gave me buoyancy. My Soul has helped me through the deepest waters. Its given me the power to fill my empty places with new Hope and the reassurance that fighting for my spiritual life will not be in vain.