Tag Archive | suicide



Today I’ve been thinking about my brother, who died by his own hand, some 25 years ago. He shot himself in the mouth. He was young. Life was full ahead of him if only he could have waited for worthy moments to come his way. Like me, he was an impulsive and impatient fellow, filled with miseries of his own making. Expecting more and terribly disappointed when his life didn’t conform to his imaginings. Calm and dispassionate in his demeanor. Consumed in his heart with jealousy for a rewarding life that never matched his actual existence.

Especially when we are young, we make oh, so many mistakes. We find it hard to justify the waiting. We demand a quick and logical, sequential pattern to our coming of age. We don’t understand that nature doesn’t march forward in straight, perfect lines. Often we are forced to step back or to the side and start again. The agony can be palpable.

“She walked closer to the flames.

I don’t have God. I don’t pray to the blue lights, or the cigarette gods, or the god of good fortune, or even to the goddess Persephone who raises the cruel spring.

It isn’t Persephone’s fault the spring brings chaos and disharmony. She ate three of Hades’ pomegranate seeds – big deal. That’s no reason to bind her to hell. That’s no reason to give up on her. Hades is the mean one, the gross and disgusting pig of an underworld god. Persephone isn’t much more than a child, Hades, though she looks adult. She’s just a girl, Hades. Leave Persephone be.

Glory moved to a spot where the sparks flew straight out into the night air. She raised her hand to them, and let them hit her fingers. She felt tingles but no pain.”

Not every young adult experiences the kind of melancholy expressed in PERSEPHONE IN HELL. Not every young person destroys himself in a fit of despair. But some do. My memories live with me. The agony is palpable.



A Tale of Two Davids


I’d heard all about the statue of David, of course. The magnificence of the carving, the perfection of form. Its compelling presence. Michelangelo’s greatest work, perhaps. Florentine, uniquely Italian, yet universal. A statement of the human condition.

When I saw David this summer in person, right up close, I fell in love. It was the same with Van Gogh’s paintings in the Musee d’Orsay in Paris. I never knew how much I admired and cared for Van Gogh’s work until I saw them for myself some seven years ago. One can read and study and memorize every detail of a photograph of an art work, but seeing it for real is a whole different experience.

The same is true about violence and death. One can read about it in the newspaper or watch the nightly TV newscast, and feel almost nothing. Over and over, we hear about war and battles, bombs and sniper attacks, until it seems we become immune to their true horrors. The biblical David was famous for his victory over Goliath. He epitomizes the intelligence of the Hebrew people. Yet he killed. Perhaps too much time has gone by for us to feel the violence of his act.

When my brother David committed suicide some 25 years ago, the anguish of it was too much to bear. All I could feel was anger. I held back love, compassion, pity. I froze out understanding. I couldn’t allow acceptance or any contemplation of the human condition that my brother’s act of self-inflicted violence might have represented.

But when I saw the David of Michelangelo, in the company of my sister who endured the same anguish and agony as I had 25 years ago, my heart began to open. In the presence of the master sculpture, I let compassion in. I tried to understand, and in doing so, began to heal. I waited too many years. I should have visited him long ago.


A Tale of Two Davids

After 25 years
I’m finally ready to talk about David

There are two Davids
One cast in stone
In the Accademia museum in Italy
The other cast into the ground in a coffin

David the rock carved of solid marble,
Form of a god
David the weak
Composed of decomposing human flesh,
Probably all bones by now

One symbolizes heroism
The other was cowardly
One slew the giant
The other slew himself

One had the intelligence
To outwit an enemy many times his size
The other had intelligence too
But couldn’t find his own strengths

Rock David is perfect
Cut from the stone by a master
Flesh David is perfect too
Perfect in his anger against himself

David the Florentine statue
Admired for courage and artistry
The world will remember
David my brother
Reviled for his inhuman loveless act
We try to forget

David born of the Hebrews and Michelangelo
Lives in beloved eternity
David born of the Hebrews Joyce and Herb
Died in despair and disgrace

A tale of two Davids