A Good Day.

I've been feeling pretty apathetic the past few days.  Nothing was a cause for joy or sorrow, just the robotic predictability of life moving forward.  Today, however, was spent in a near-constant state of happiness.  It was full of smiles and laughter, a patience that didn't waiver and simple pleasures.

I put a nature documentary on Netflix for the kids as I cleaned the living room this morning.  My daughter was enthralled with "Microcosmos," a film showcasing the beauty and diversity of the arthropod world.  She sat in front of it yelling to me to look at the lady bug, or the bee, or the caterpillar, asking what a butterfly was doing or why the spider was wrapping the grasshopper in silk.  Our shared interest made me smile, and I sat with her to talk about ants and aphids.

We spent time together in the rocking chair.  My son drifted into a nap as my daughter and I sang "Row, Row, Row Your Boat", replacing the lyrics with various animal sounds and words we made up.  Then we went imaginary fishing.  We would bait our hooks, toss them into the sea and wait.  Evelyn would look at me with anticipation before shouting, "I got a bite!" and we'd reel in our fishes.  We'd talk about what our fishes looked like, and then I'd ask her what we do with them now.  "We eat it," she said with a smile as she gobbled up her purple, blue, white and green fish.  Her Papa would be proud.

Then we went to play outside.  There was a storm last night, and it managed to leak through the lid of the sand box.  The water was roughly three or four inches above the sand, and the sudden appearance of a beach in our backyard was deeply engrossing.  My son stomped his feet and burst into hysterical laughter at the water splashed up in his face before he'd plop down on his little butt and grab handfuls of wet sand.  Every time he made a major movement, he would look to me with this scrunched up smile, and then stomp some more.

As they were playing in their watery oasis, I sat in a lounge chair.  I watched the clouds move, I pet my dog as she laid in the grass next to me, I read a book.  I smiled as my children got filthy in a glorified puddle without caring one bit about the sand stuck to their clothes.  A dark cloud started moving fast across the sky, and we hustled inside minutes before a brief but intense rain began to fall.

They sat in the bathtub with a silence just long enough to listen to the rain hit the window as I rinsed sand from their faces.  I spiked August's hair into a temporary mohawk, and Evelyn told me a story about an imaginary time when she wore her hair like that and went camping.  

After dinner, we went outside.  Evelyn worked on her pedaling skills as she sat atop her tricycle.  Gus was content to be pushed in his Cozy Coupe and repeat "Beep beep!" as I ran up and down the sidewalk, our dog joyfully running along with us.

"Mom, wait!  I saw something!"  Evelyn said as she hopped off her tricycle.  On the sidewalk was a worm twisting its body around, lost.  We moved it into the tree lawn, and, content with the worms safety, she hopped back on top of her tricycle and tried again.

Bedtime wasn't easy, but it never is.  It wouldn't be a night in our house without my son sitting on my lap and singing his ABCs with me instead of sleeping.  In the dark of his bedroom, we laughed heartily together as he poked my nose and said his letters in his own special way.  A, B, She, D, E, Ep, G, Aysh.

I'm now laying in bed with a fan blowing on my face, listening to the crickets filling the night with their beautiful song.  It's been a good day.



The curtains slowly bellowed with the sigh of an oncoming storm, filling the air with the clean scent of anticipated rain.  Each time the heavy fabric moved, a blue panel of light would fall onto the floor and everything in the room would take on a silver hue.  The breeze would subside, the curtain would fall back into place as sure as if it never moved, and the light would give way to darkness once more.  Besides the gentle humming of the fan and the distant rumblings of thunder, everything was silent.

Each night, I lay in my daughter's bed.  It is our ritual; I serve as some kind of comforting ferryman as she crosses the river from excitement to slumber.  As she fades into sleep, I stare at the ceiling.  I smell the breeze, watch the light move with the curtains.  Though I will remain awake for hours, I am already dreaming.

I don't have many people in my life that truly care about me.  It is a sad truth that most of my relationships are nothing but hallucinations, some vivid imagination that I superimpose over the most innocent words and actions of others.  I imagine I'm much more important to people than I truly am, and sometimes the border between this colorful fantasy and my otherwise monochromatic reality gets blurred.

I recently had a transcendent moment in that gradient middle ground where two very different worlds collide.  I was reminded that I am very small and insignificant, that my hallucinations were a side-effect of copious amounts of optimism and delusion.  I wish I had someone to blame, some poor scapegoat to sacrifice to appease my silent tears, but there is only myself.  I have created this outrageous expectation that I be treated with a modicum of respect, this unreachable standard that people only say what they mean and speak it with conviction.  It is because I expect things that I am disappointed.  There's a lesson to be learned there, but I will not learn it.  I never do.

But in my new-found frailty, in my trifling gossamer reality that blows asunder with every gust of wind, there is that pale blue square of light that reveals the silver lining in every storm:  Though I am no one to nearly everyone, I am everything to some.

As the rain starts to fall, I slowly rise and close the windows.  My daughter is asleep at this point, and I'll sneak away for a moment of solitude before she realizes my absence in a few short hours.  She'll wake up and call for me, and I'll be there.  Just like I always am for anyone who needs me.



"And yet, something inside you is so horrible or you're such a coward or whatever the reason that you decide that you have to end it, Robin Williams, at 63, did that today."

This cold, soulless interpretation of suicide comes to us from unfortunately popular Fox News infotainment reporter Shepherd Smith.  His words are not his own, but just the loudest echo of the softest American thoughts, the blunt picture painted by a million tiny strokes that just barely touch the canvas of how we as a country approach mental illness through a narrow door of misunderstanding and secret loathing:  Suicide is an act of cowardice; it is the culmination of the most horrible parts of ourselves. 

Our society has been in desperate need of a frank discussion of mental illness, and now that a beloved household name has succumbed to depression's most tragic trick, it's time to talk.

There is a stigma attached to depression the likes of which no other disease suffers, and that is the stigma of choice, that one chooses to be depressed and can turn it off as simply as they turned it on if only they approached life from a different perspective.  Depression is seen as the result of ingratitude or selfishness.  Open up to anyone about your depression, and you'll likely get this:  "What do you have to be sad about?"

That single question and its bastard relatives that call into question one's ability to recognize one's own suffering as it relates to what a person has in his or her life are the reason that so many people do not seek help.  Sufferers of this tragic disease are made to believe they aren't sick, and a person who has no illness will seek no treatment.  Our society does a great disservice to everyone when we regard mental illness as imaginary simply because it has no evident outward displays of suffering, no emaciated appearance and deep sunken eyes, no unexplained bruising or bleeding, no hair loss or infectious odors.  But depression is a disease no less serious than any other that affects our physical faculties, and like other diseases, there is no choice.

Living with depression is like living in a hole that grows deeper faster than a person can climb. There is no sense of purpose, no motivation, no pleasure - just a desperate clawing toward that tiny pinpoint of light that's fading fast.  At some point, the hole grows so deep that the light is burned out.  A person that deep in the ground might already feel dead, and then what is the point of continuing through the motions?

Suicide is not cowardice.  It is not something horrible inside of us that has grown out of control.  It is a natural end to a disease gone unchecked, like a failing body is to cancer.  It is the last battle in a long war against illness. It is a tragedy which deserves our respect and our compassion, both for the victim and for those struggling to find the answers.

When we start to look at depression as a serious illness, we are naturally brought to a place of compassion for those who suffer.  If someone opens up to you, listen.  If someone comes to you for help, help.  If you need to turn to someone, you shouldn't be afraid to.  I'm here for you.  As I went to refill my own medication today, I was given only three days' worth because their supplies were otherwise depleted.  Depression is all around us, sight unseen.  It's time we start taking a look through a more loving lens.