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As I left Dudley’s bookstore after my Tuesday morning meeting I was feeling what most people would call happy. That was a bit of a surprise because as I approached this meeting two hours earlier, I was worried. The previous Tuesday had been an emotionally wrenching experience, because one of our most beloved members had committed suicide two days before we met. We were all still in an emotional and intellectual ping-pong world of coping with our new realities. What would happen today? Would we go deeper into grief, or would we each have begun to recover our composure and find a new meaningful relationship with ourselves and our external reality?

As I looked around our group I noticed that three people were missing, and immediately wondered if they didn’t feel comfortable being with us; however, within a few minutes those present were all conversing normally, and two hours later as we were all leaving I realized that no one had gotten choked up a single time. The week before everyone had manifested some form of strong emotion, but this week, although many powerful events were discussed, not one person lost their composure. We were all discussing our various life stories, and our coping strategies, and what seemed to be working best for our personal needs. I mentioned that I had just slept soundly for the first time in a week, and the others seemed to agree. As we departed I noticed everyone’s primary emotion seemed to be very positive, even if our time together had had some dour moments. While walking to my car I noticed the emotional expressions on the passers-by, and I felt far far happier than any of them, but probably just average for those with whom I had just spent the previous two hours.

Many years ago I had driven some thirty miles along the rolling wheat fields of Washington state to attend a dance where there would be lots of girls. There were only three girls there and some thirty guys. Hm. When I left the band was playing, “Live fast, love hard, die young, and leave a beautiful memory“. I was singing that song driving home alone, a little faster than normal, when the thought occurred to me of what would happen if I went off the road and got killed. Would I be remembered, as in that romantic song, echoing down through the ages as a beautiful memory? Or, more likely, remembered by my buddies saying something like this; “Did you hear that Chuck got killed in a wreck last night?” “No? …uh… What’s for dinner?” And, that would be the end of me and my beautiful memory. Well, that was sixty years ago, and I have enjoyed almost every minute of those ensuing years. Okay, given the chance I would cut out maybe five individual minutes, like the time I hit my head on the bottom of a swimming pool. But, having survived that, I would leave it in. It was an important learning experience. But suicide is such a stupid thing, especially for someone who is making many other people’s lives happier.

Did you hear the joke about the Jonestown mass suicides? They had a fine choice of Koolaid-flavored strychnine drinks, Orange, Lime, Banana and the favorite, Tropical Punch.

If you can look forward to helping someone live a better life you are needed and wanted.

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