Monday, October 09, 2006

night of grace

J-Dog is quiet tonight. He has held onto M a bit longer than usual, and has folded himself into my arms in a way he rarely does. He witnessed an absence of hope today, and he is weary.

A client at his work slowly tried to kill himself last night. He took a disposable razor to his neck and chipped slowly away at skin and vein until his bed and walls and floor resembled a crime scene. He spent all night slowly and quietly bleeding to almost death, and if not for the woman who entered his room early this morning, he'd surely be gone. The woman asked him if she could borrow some money, and the man, this dear man, handed his wallet over in the dark and said that she could have whatever was in his wallet. It was dripping with blood.

J works at a voluntary psycho-social rehab for folks who struggle with chronic mental illness. It's not a locked facility, but in this level of care he sees a lot of human suffering. We both do, and when it's on a daily basis, somehow poverty, illness and pain takes on a bit of normalcy - it's like an old friend, or a comfortable shirt - and we don't always take note of it as we should. But once in a while someone's suffering is so profound, so absent of hope, that it startles us back into remembering what we see every day, and of the simple grace we've been afforded.

J-Dog is quiet tonight. And there aren't many words anyways, once the plot has been hatched and the story comes to an end. But the loneliness of this precious man has touched us both. Knowing that someone laid awake last night slowly willing himself to die, quietly and hopelessly alone, has also quieted us. What is profound is the silence. And the other silence that lurks inside all of us, that some of us wrestle with more deeply, at 2am, and at 4am, the clock ticking slowly, there but for the grace of god go we.

i haven't forgotten about pt. 3. it's still in the wok and will be served up shortly.

15 comments:

acumamakiki said...

This type of despair breaks my heart. It's a very fine line that we all walk and some of us know that dark bleakness exists more than others. I pray that my daughter never knows such pain or darkness, pray that the crippling depression that her paternal grandfather suffered from never reaches out for her.
I admire you and your man for being able to help these precious souls. I'm too fragile, too sensitive to witness such suffering, I fear I'd understand too closely and succumb.

ECR said...

There may not be many words, but you tell a lot with the ones you've got.

J Fife said...

This is so powerful. My coffee is sitting untouched. I can't swallow. Your work and that of J is truly inspiring.

Mary P. said...

I don't want to wander away, having never spoken, but you are right: there are few words for this. My heart goes out to that poor man.

scribbit said...

You've got me hanging, don't take too long on Pt. 3

Deezee said...

I read this earlier today and had to digest. And what I come to is how strong you and mate are that you can work in these worlds and live what you live...and then with insight come home and hold each other...

meno said...

I would worry about someone who could witness this and not be "quiet tonight". I'll be quiet tonight and i wasn't even involved.

It's the calmness that this man showed that is the saddest.

Anonymous said...

Your strength - and your man's strength is beyond admirable as well as, humbling.
This whole post was a kick in the gut for me - in the best of ways. It was a beautifully written post about quiet suffering and immense pain.
Thanks for sharing.
Thanks for putting things back in perspective for me.
Your words are beyond eloquence.

Momish said...

My heart is breaking! Your tender words and descriptions have left me in awe and in gratitude for what I have. I use to work with adults suffering from metal illness and have witnessed some terrifying events of dispair. It was quite some time ago, but you just brought it all right back to me. It is comforting to know there are people in the world like you and your partner that make a difference. Not only to the people hurting themselves, but to others like me who read about them through you and are changed, for the better.

Anonymous said...

The most important work there is to do can be so heartbreaking for those that do it. Give the man many kisses.

Penny said...

I understand too well, but not well enough, thank God, and for what I think I know of that feeling, it is enough that I can't comfortably imagine past it to where that man was.

I hope he finds his hope.

Prayers be with him.

And, you and M and J-dog.

lildb said...

Jen.

Wow.

you are brave, you and J. thank you for doing something I don't have the strength for.

thank you.

mad_hatter said...

This post is so hauntingly written. You have made me feel so much. I don't know what else to say b/c words don't seem to cut it.

Joker The Lurcher said...

this moved me hugely. my father made several serious attampts to kill himself when I was a child and the violence of it made a huge impression on me.

what you have written speaks of such despair with more kindness and compassion than i was ever able to muster.

crazymumma said...

Damn. You are the one who waxes poetic.