The 10th of September is a day to educate people, to reflect and address the stigma surrounding mental health. It is all-natural to be overwhelmed when life births unexpected bends; reaching out for help when you need it is the first sign of progress. Let's all treat mental health as any other health issue and help remove the stigma. Let's do our part and help spread the word and observe World Suicide Prevention Day.
Mike was everything happiness depicted. He lived life on his terms, earned cashing out his hobby of fishing, which was physical work he enjoyed; albeit he belonged to the elderly club. But most of all he was free, nothing dictated his life. When asked about the secret behind the smile, he would smile and answer, "Independence and the truth grill you the hard way, but the lesson stays."
On the 20th of last month, Mike who was seventy had passed away peacefully in his sleep. Everybody gathered and agreed to scatter his remains into the sea. He left behind no family but a large platoon of friends and well-wishers. Down at the funeral, each had their personal story to share about Mike. People not only loved him but also held him at high regard. He was generous, helped anyone who would ask him for assistance, and many a time he risked his own safety to protect others, he believed needed his help. Then there was Thomas, the son of Greg. They lived next door to the deceased. The kid just turned six, but he would always hang around grandpappy Mike. His loss was the greatest of all the others present at the funeral.
Having lived his life at the bay all alone for a decade, Thomas overwhelmed Mike. He invaded right into the softest corners of his heart. They shared a bond that went beyond blood. A bond between grandpappy and his cute little grandson. Mike was everything a grandfather was and much more. He taught Thomas his art. The happiness was contagious and inadvertently Greg and his wife Jules found themselves looking up to Mike as their father figure. Mike's family felt complete. They shared more than what empathy and sympathy declared.
Everybody knew he used to be married and on occasions, many had caught him talking about his spouse fondly with a moist twinkle in his eyes. No one dared to bring up memories they thought would stir sadness inside that jolly old man. He was respected and had ways up the sleeves that made him a subject of endearment amongst the people around him; the Secret Santa people wished for.
Mike had shared his story with Greg and Jules one day. His life before he came to 'Jacques Bay'. He had been married for thirty-two years. His wife was the embodiment of what Mike stood for in his later years. Mike's memories of his wife, Sadie reverberated feelings of love and loneliness at the same time. They got married at nineteen i.e. fairly young and settled down in some faraway quiet farmland. Twenty years of marriage with no flesh and blood of their own, but they never lost hope; finally deciding to settle for a baby boy who was orphaned at birth. The beautiful baby, Hanes was a blessing from Mother Nature. But Hanes was sickly, and the couple tried their hardest at keeping him fed, clothed and safe.
Alas! fate had other plans. The boy passed away at the tender age of twelve, leaving behind his grieving parents in a state of numbness and disparity. Unable to face the truth, Sadie had let the grief consume her and the only way out she deemed was through mercy killing. On the first anniversary of his son's death, Mike buried his beautiful wife alongside his baby boy. His world had shattered within a year, and the blissful life he had imagined with Sadie had passed by in a blink.
The next three years Mike spent in an extreme state of grief, letting his life stray away to nothingness. Alcohol and painkillers were his only elixirs; death the only calm he desired. However, one fine morning he woke up with a smile. Sadie had spoken. She urged him to survive and not give in to suicide.
Live for me Mike, Live for the sake of our Hanes. Go live your life to the brink, keeping our memories alive.
"And the rest is history", as Mike narrated. Greg, Jules and Thomas had given Mike a glimpse of a life he wished he had with Sadie and Hanes. They appeared complete in his eyes. Thomas had bridged the gap Mike had in his heart. He lived his life guiltlessly with freedom, as he had promised Sadie. Hence, he passed on peacefully with a smile etched onto those numb, chapped lips.
"When your day is long
And the night
The night is yours alone
When you're sure you've had enough
Of this life
Well hang on
Don't let yourself go
'Cause everybody cries
And everybody hurts sometimes."
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Music Source ~ Spotify