The Hardship of Living…

Mark Reichman 13 Dec 1963 - 1 April 2014

Mark Reichman
13 Dec 1963 – 1 April 2014

I wasn’t there
I didn’t see
I’m left to wonder how this could be
Is this a nightmare from which I’ll wake
Was there no other choice that you could make
Had the burden of life become too much to bear
Was living a torment
Your Life,
One of despair
I don’t understand it
None of us do
Was life a Winter landscape,
So gray and so bleak
Did you think of the destruction you’d leave in your wake
The havoc your untimely passing would create
Your daughters who love you
A Mother, burying a son
Your sisters, as one
Your choice was a sad one
Reality bites
Did none of us see
As a possibility coming to pass
This April Fools joke was a little extreme,
The punchline not funny
What does it all mean
You spoke to your mother
You spoke of the future
You sounded happy
And now we know why
Your decision was made, the decision to die
Be at peace
Be pain free
Find sunshine and solace where ever you are
Outshine the stars like a diamond in the sky

Have you ever wondered what the point is? Why is it that you wake up every morning of every day to face the world again? Is it a conscious choice that you make or something that you just cannot avoid? A friend of mine has an expression “The Tyranny of yes, the freedom of no” in my head it resonates as the “the tyranny of life and the freedom of death” but, does death actually bring you freedom or does it merely facilitate the escape from one living hell into a deathly one? And therein lies the rub for me because do we live or do we just exist and if we just exist is there any real point if that is all there is to life?

To the spiritual answers I have no clue and only give a passing thought to when I feel the brush of another beings energy pass across my skin, so it is really the earthbound questions I give pause to in my daily life.
Life is tough, dealing with the reality of one’s daily issues is a challenge that even the toughest, the richest and the happiest face. So what is it that drives a person to the point where opting out appears to be the ultimate solution to one’s woes whether they be real or imagined.
Why do the people who live life on the fringe carry on living? Their lives appear to be miserable with no money, no facilities, no daily shelter and wondering where their next meal is coming from that you have wonder why they choose to do it every day, what not just step off a bridge and end it? Is the human will to live so strong that the thought of ending it all does not enter their heads?
At what point does the need to cease living become greater than the will to live? At what point does the desire to end it all overwhelm the thoughts in your head of the devastation and grief that you will leave behind? What does it take to happen in your brain, what chemicals take control, what thoughts take command that are strong enough to suppress the basic human will to survive? Give thought for one second to the survivors of the concentration camps who lived in spite of the horror and deprivation they were subjected to, give thought to those who suffer from illness and disease whose days are filled with pain and no possibility of relief, they go on every day in spite of the inelegance of living.
Living or existing is the difference between relishing each day and not so much living each like it is your last but rejoicing in the fact that you are alive, that you have a roof over your head, even if you cannot really afford the rent or bond, seeing the sun shine in all its glory every day and laughing in spite of everything.

I too have questioned the point of working long hours, sore feet, soured relationships, the bleakness of the future of the planet, mankind’s inhumanity towards his fellow man and animals and I know in my heart that that it is the way we treat the planet and its bounty that depresses me the most. To me, the people who take it upon themselves to challenge society on the choices it makes are the real heroes, the anti-trophy hunters, the vegans, the people on the ground who face the miserable plight of our lions, dogs, elephants and primates, amongst others. When I see man’s cruelty towards “others” I wonder at the future of life on this planet and I am grateful that I do not have children who will be left to fight the fight for the well being of planet Earth, when the water runs out, when the rain forests are decimated, when the fundamentalists take over, when freedom of choice is no longer an option. Is there any wonder then, that some people choose to opt out early. You’re wondering why I don’t choose to end it early if this is the bleakness I see ahead?
I know I have had days or weeks even when I have wondered what the point of all this is. Why it is that I get up every day to face the hardship of the daily grind. Admittedly my life is a bowl of cherries when compared to the millions of others out there who struggle with their daily existence.
To quote a friend, life is relentless, it just keeps on going! You can opt out for a while but then you pop your head back out and life, like the steamroller it is just rolls on over you and carries on, your choice is whether you want to stay in it’s path.
I think life is more like a roller coaster, exciting and scary, with never a dull moment but it’s your choice if you want to close your eyes, hold on tight and scream in the face of it or put your hands up and yell out your challenge to the skies with your eyes drinking in the ride.

Would I ever consider suicide as an option?
Yes. Maybe. I don’t know. Possibly. The day that my disease reaches a point where the quality of my daily life becomes a chore and I am a burden to others, maybe then.
Until that day NO, not whilst the sun shines, I can laugh at my foibles, paint a canvas, sculpt out of clay and work for my daily bread. Not whilst I still enjoy the feel of rain on my skin, the pleasure of living is not a hardship to be endured.
I have now experienced those mangled emotions, suffered the grief, wondered why, questioned why, found a few sad answers and realized that so many of the questions will remain unanswered. Now I know the devastation of suicide is not just something that happens to other people’s families, now I know that suicide is a choice that anyone can make

The thirsty days of mourning is over, but my life will go on
Rest in Peace brother

So Much Death, So Little Time

This morning at 10.13 my mum called to tell me that my sister’s husband, my brother in law has passed away. I wasn’t especially close to him. They have lived in London for the past 25 years or so, so we have never really had a chance to get to know one another well. So why then do I feel so broken right now? Why am I who is so many miles away feeling that loss so keenly? Is it because my beloved sister has been robbed of her life partner by a dreadful disease that ate away ate her husband for years, that her two teenaged children are now fatherless. He was an incredible father, always having time to spend with his kids at the end of every working day. As they say it is quality time over quantity time any day.
I think I am feeling so sad at this moment because it is only mid March and already this year a handful of people amongst my friends and family have passed away. In January alone we buried two friends a week apart. One older, one my age, no time to mourn the loss of the one before the second dropped dead from a heart attack. At least his wife was with him at the time, in fact neither of the two died alone, both had the comfort of their wives with them.
I am feeling horribly mortal at the moment. Death is so final in our daily lives. You may believe in an afterlife, a place where spirits roam free and are happy to have shuffled off this mortal coil but that doesn’t leave the rest of us left behind with much comfort. We may be relieved that those who have suffered in pain have passed on and are now free of that burden. We may be relieved that they are no longer a burden to us, the hospital visits, Hospice, funerals, all of that behind us. Rituals that are meant to comfort us after their passing but do they? Does that wake give you closure? Does the sound of soil hitting a coffin make it easier to cope with the lost of a mother, father, husband or child.
The comforting arms of friends and family are there for you in the immediate aftermath but what happens once the dust has settled and they have all returned to their lives, a week or two weeks later. The calls stop coming, the food stops arriving and you are left to your own devices. Attempting to pick up the pieces of your shattered life and move on. How do you move on? Do you pack up their stuff and donate it to a charity organization? Do you leave it in the cupboard for months after so that you can hug their clothing and remember their smell. Do you hold onto a favourite jersey and hug it like a pillow at night whilst you sob your heart out because you miss them and you are actually inconsolable?

Or do you light a candle, paint a picture, put a photobook together and remember the good times?
If the person you loved was ill and suffered greatly before passing on, it takes a long time before you can remember the person they were before they got ill. At first all you remember is the hospital, the smells, the sadness, the fact that they looked gray or they looked yellow, or just sallow, the funeral, the medicine, the doctors, the sadness that wells up in you every time you think of them. Months and years can pass before you can remember the love, the sense of humour they had, the good times that you shared. It takes a long time to make peace with their passing. I know they say that you expect the elderly to die, it doesn’t make it any easier though. It becomes harder and harder as time passes to remember their faces, their laughs, their smiles.
You do eventually. Eventually you learn to smile again, you can talk about them without crying, you can laugh at anecdotes about them, their little idiosyncrasies, their silly jokes. You learn it is okay to laugh, it is okay to be happy, to pack their stuff away or put it in boxes in the storeroom. Life is okay to go on with.
You need to forgive yourself for life carrying on, for living whilst they have passed on, for being happy when you have no idea if they are happy any more. It is okay, life goes on and for that, though it is hard to believe at the time, life does go on. It doesn’t stop because the person you loved has passed on. Cows still need to be milked and accounts still need to be paid and it isn’t fair. The whole world isn’t mourning and the whole world didn’t stop because you wanted to get off. Life goes on and IT IS OKAY. In fact it is a blessing because you begin over time to forget, you move on and it is okay. It is okay to move on. To fall in love again. To feel again. You can forgive yourself because it is okay.

Death unless you are a medium is final. So remember to make your peace every day, kiss them, hug them, tell them you love them because one day it is too late and you never said those words, returned that book or sent that message. Life really is too short for regrets so on their deathbeds if you are lucky enough to get the chance to say goodbye then do it. Tell that person that it is okay to die, to move on, tell them that you will be okay, that you will go on and that you love them. The soul hears.

To all those that have passed on before me you are loved, you are missed, you are remembered, you will never be forgotten and I will be okay without you one day.
I am okay without you.
I am okay.