Today is a day for remembering our veterans. Yet we often exclude and even look with shame on those who take their own live. The following is a different take, a brief story which can save our own lives and that of our loved-ones.
He was my cousin. He was my friend. He was a quiet and kind man, with an offbeat sense of humour.
He spoke with subdued meanness about the father he never knew. Perhaps that was a clue. Perhaps that was the beginning.
The last time I saw him, he had returned home from fighting America’s war In the land of Iraq. I asked him, “what are you going to do now that you are home”
He replied, “I want to go back and blow some brains out”
“You’re not serious,” I questioned, wondering if this was an ugly example of his warped sense of humour. He didn’t respond. I don’t think he smiled.
In search of a more loving mood, I change the conversation. But I could not find his smile. I could not find his love.
The day I heard of his fate, I realized I had been speaking to a ghost; for the cousin and friend I once knew never returned from Iraq.
With his wife and son away from home, he took a gun pointed it to his head and like he had spoken, blew his own brains out.
Now I say tearful thanks to him for bringing greater attention to the mental illness that comes from the many wars of our lives.
His broken life sheds light on the millions of mentally ill living with sicknesses our eyes cannot see, struggling to cope with the ravages of life.
As mental illness spreads like a virus, we urgently see the need to learn how to love and how to save another mind, another lost loved-one.
To all desolate war veterans driven to take their own life, thank you for your service. Thank God for your life.