It’s not too late.

I was recently at a memorial service for a family friend.  Family and friends spoke of him fondly, telling stories that were touching, funny, and sweet.  They spoke of his seeking and being on a spiritual quest.  They talked about his struggles in passing without naming them.

In between the lines, in the subtext and through side conversations, I heard other stories.  There was a cousin who hadn’t seen deceased in years, since they were children together.  He remembered him fondly, but couldn’t speak about his adulthood at all.  Friends had told him in recent years that he couldn’t stay at their houses after he started saying strange things.  Family members talked about how he loved to be free, but I also heard that he would sometimes work – and possibly lived – out of his car.

In the midst of it, I hear the questions:  could we have done something different?  While his death was the result of a tragic accident, I still felt the underlying, could we have done something differently to save or help him?  Would there have been a different outcome?  
These were conversations about the deceased, but I also notice how we apply similar principles to the living.  How we take away the stories we’d most like to remember.  I get it.  We want to tell people the best of our lives, the joy, the good times, our achievements.
The memorial service was also like a family reunion of sorts, where friends and family who hadn’t seen each other in years came together and caught up.   I realized there that want to tell people the best of my life, that I’m doing something worth telling. When people asked me how I was doing, I told them the basics.  I didn’t want to say, “hey, I feel that I hit a  roadblock in my life.  I’ve been struggling with depression.  I am just trying to land and find the will to begin again.”
While a memorial service may not be the appropriate place for that kind of honesty, I’d like to find a place that is.  I don’t want to hide behind half-truths and dumb down my experience to “I came back to New Mexico to deal with health concerns.”  Don’t get me wrong – I don’t want to be labeled and just seen as my symptoms, as just an illness. I do want to be seen as a whole person.
I’ve been fairly quiet about my depression.  I didn’t tell anyone at my former job.  I told my supervisors and team in my former volunteer position, but didn’t really share how deep my sadness went with anyone else.   While I realize my own reasons for my silence, and the overarching ones, I realize how much it hurt me.  How much it prevented me from seeing that I needed more support.  It ended up hurting my relationships with people around me, too.

At the memorial service, I’m sure there were those who may have thought that they were too late to say the things they wanted to say to their loved one.  But I am of the belief that it’s never too late.  It’s never too late to say what you want or need to say, even if it’s just to say and hear the words out loud for yourself, or to reach out to another friend you haven’t seen in awhile.  It’s not too late to say “I’m here and I’d like to talk.”

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