Tag Archives: Quick Write

Where you rest

November 15th, 2014

Today was your birthday. You would have been 59. I couldn’t bring you a card, or cake, or flowers, so I brought to you your legacy — a little girl with the same turn of jaw and curve of chin. We turned East and drove to that beach where you rest, to those waters that are now your arms, and legs, and laughing mouth, to that sand that is now your hands and feet. I couldn’t see you, I couldn’t feel you, but I prayed to God that you were there.

Moira was a little scared at first, like she is when she meets a stranger. I sat with her at the outer limits of the surf as the waves drifted slowly in and you tickled her toes, wet her hair. You whispered to her quietly, confidentially through the waves. She picked up wet, sloppy handfuls of sand and squeezed them delightfully through her fingers, and I imagined that she was squeezing your hand. She stomped her feet in an oncoming wave, and I pictured her dancing with you. We walked into the water, past the shorebreak, and into the crisp blueness to sing you Happy Birthday, and I imagined your arms around us, holding us. It was the very best I could do.

I opened my hands underneath the waves, closed my eyes, and prayed, much as I have done every time I have visited this place. Let her be here, let her come. Let there be a touch, let me be open, let there be something.

I heard Moira laughing as she played with her daddy in the water. I felt the waves ripple past my skin, warmed and cooled in turn by the sun and the afternoon’s breeze. I waited, but the supernatural evaded me, as it is wont to do.

Closing my hands, I brought them up out of the water, and opened them toward Moira. She smiled in that way that proves she was born for her Hawaiian name — Kealohi, The Light. “Hau`oli Lā Hānau, Meemaw Janis,” I said, sing-song for us both, before turning to go home.

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A perfect storm

Actor Robin Williams took his own life today. By all accounts an extremely funny, extremely intelligent person, he lost a battle with depression. I’m probably more upset by this than I have any right to be — Mr. Williams being an actor and a public figure whom I enjoyed does not mean that he belongs to me in any sense. It doesn’t seem right to eulogize someone I have never, and now will never, meet, despite his featuring prominently in the entertainment landscape of my childhood. Maybe it’s just that his humor resonated with me, because I see similarities to my own sense of humor… and maybe because his actions today resonate with me, also.

Seems to me that it goes something like this: A good sense of humor is an indication of intelligence. Intelligence is a predisposing factor to depression and mental illness. People who are depressed are also more likely to be humorous, probably as a result of their higher intelligence and perhaps as a result of coping mechanisms developed to mitigate their depression.

Smart people are also marginalized in our society. Those who suffer with depression and other mental illnesses are likewise stigmatized. We use humor to deflect and cover up our wounds, and then we suffer quietly. Alone. As we spend more time alone, we are observed to be introverted. People who are introverted, on the whole, seem to be less desirable companions and are therefore sought out less by their peers. In the end, you get a bunch of smart, suffering, funny people with no close friends.

And then we kill ourselves because human beings aren’t meant to be islands (Bon Jovi had that right) but what choice does a person have when their territory is being colonized by naysayers and doubters and people who, in general, just want to make you feel bad for being who you are and enjoying what you like.

Seriously. Fuck those people.

This is what being a Stigma Fighter is about. Standing up to the unenlightened masses who would prefer to see a greatly homogenized culture instead of embracing and celebrating our differences, mental illness included. I wonder if Mr. Williams, had he known about our mission, would have joined us. Something tells me he might have done just that.