Portions of our neighborhood were developed with older residents in mind, and the reasonably well maintained sidewalks and paths make daily walks as easy as after-lunch naps. While my husband and I regularly walk three miles in the neighborhood before he begins work each weekday, though, we prefer to get out to a conservation area or state park on the weekends. The image above was taken last Sunday.
The weekend has arrived, and, boy, do I need it. I am going to follow my cat’s example: a warm blanket, a few naps, and maybe a few episodes of Westworld, Season 2. (Yes, I’m behind.)
It’s not that I’m never sick, but I have been pretty fortunate. Sure, five years ago, I spent much of the late summer and early fall battling an upper respiratory infection, and, yes, I’ve had a couple of colds since then, but mostly it seems that I am able to vanquish the occasional illness quickly.
On Friday, November 9, though, I succumbed to a clinging, cold-like bug. Fever, chills, and fatigue nearly caused me to miss a play on Saturday night. (Afterward, we mused that it was, in fact, quite missable, something we’ve said about only one other play in eight years.) Coughing and exhaustion forced me to call out of work on Thursday, November 15, but apart from post-nasal drip and a lingering cough, I felt much better on Thanksgiving. On Black Friday, however, I awoke to “stomach flu” and an impressive fever. (It may have been the guacamole; no one else had any.) When that subsided twenty-four hours later, I needed to focus on post-holiday travel and the blizzard. Given how physically weak I was, my husband and I decided that I would drive my youngest back to university and remain overnight, and he would stay home to keep up with the snow clearing — which would have been great decisions, had my daughter and I discovered the leak in the new air mattress before 2 a.m. Monday. Heh, heh, heh. “Boy, will I sleep well tonight!” I announced when I returned home. Nope. Another night of broken sleep.
So… I spent the remainder of this past week catnapping and getting to bed early to put the kibosh on a lingering, low-level fatigue. It’s my fervent hope that one or two more nights will do the trick. It has, after all, been more than three weeks; I’d like to be done now, please.
The gloomy weather doesn’t do much to improve my energy level, either. The photo above was taken on a family walk Thanksgiving morning. I’m certain it has looked like that nearly every day since.
Past one o’clock. You must have gone to bed.
The Milky Way streams silver through the night.
I’m in no hurry; with lightning telegrams
I have no cause to wake or trouble you.
And, as they say, the incident is closed.
Love’s boat has smashed against the daily grind.
Now you and I are quits. Why bother then
To balance mutual sorrows, pains, and hurts.
Behold what quiet settles on the world.
Night wraps the sky in tribute from the stars.
In hours like these, one rises to address
The ages, history, and all creation.
This poem was found among Vladimir Mayakovsky’s papers after his suicide on April 14, 1930. The middle section, with modest revisions, served as an epilogue to his suicide note. Yes, plagued by critics and disappointed in his personal relationships, the poet who had criticized poet Serge Yesenin for committing suicide took his own life: You and I, we are quits, and there is no point in listing mutual pains, sorrows, and hurts.
Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the United States, maintains the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP). But we don’t talk about it much, do we?
According to the AFSP:
Although there is no single cause of suicide, one of the risks for suicide is social isolation, and there’s scientific evidence for reducing suicide risk by making sure we connect with one another. We can all play a role through the power of connection by having real conversations about mental health with people in everyday moments – whether it’s with those closest to us, or the coffee barista, parking lot attendant, or the grocery store clerk.
It’s also about the connection we each have to the cause, whether you’re a teacher, a physician, a mother, a neighbor, a veteran, or a suicide loss survivor or attempt survivor. We don’t always know who is struggling, but we do know that one conversation could save a life.
Know the suicide warning signs and if you or someone you know is struggling, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, (800) 273-TALK (8255).
Take care of yourselves.