Sunday, January 29, 2006

Failed Suicide Attempt

I read a poem recently in which the poet proclaims:
"...Today I'm the target that everyone missed..."

I had lunch with a friend. We talked a bit about depression, as I seem to be in the stultifying grips of one. He told me a story from his youth about his one and only suicide attempt. Preferring a gentle choice, my friend decided that he would plug up the exhaust pipe on his beloved garaged car, start the engine, roll up the windows and listen to his favorite depressing music as he slept his way out of this life. There was a problem, though. The radio kept playing commercials, and it was irritating him. So, out of the car he springs; out of the garage he runs. He heads with grim determination for the house. He gathers up a tape or two for the cassette player and walks stoically back to the garage for his commercial-free death only to discover that someone has stolen his car.

We laughed and laughed.

He never did get his car back, but there we sat, 30 years later eating Moroccan food and laughing.

Oh Lord, I want to think that events like that theft are entirely heaven-sent -- that somehow God scooped down and sent my friend off in hunt for cassettes so that He could find a local car thief and send him on a Mission of Divine Mercy. Quickly, quickly says God to the thief -- if we do not save him there will be no one to give her a lovely Pucci scarf for her 56th birthday over Moroccan food in Greenwich Village.

I want to think that God intervened to save my friend, but if I walk that line of thought I have to look at my memories of other people who are dead. Did God decide not to save them? To let some of them die horrible deaths? I cannot begin to imagine a God so cruel, so abusive.

I am left with the nagging sense that life and death are fairly random. Who gets to live and who gets to die is, I believe, a function of privilege, circumstance and accident. God is with us no matter what happens, but what happens seems often to be the result of flipped coins.

I suppose the truth is that every day that we have is a failed suicide attempt. A dodged bullet. A stroke of amazing good fortune. A heck of an accident.


Blogger samtzmom said...

I prefer to think that when it's our time, we'll go, regardless. Otherwise, I can't see why you see some horrific car accidents where people walk away and others which looked like a fender bender and someone is gone. It was just not his time to decide to go. God knew you needed that scarf! :c)

9:38 PM  
Blogger Mata H said...

Well, samtzmom, I still think it is random. Otherwise everything seems so unjust.

6:49 AM  

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