Musings & Music & More... oh my!

Regrets… (A look back at events that I wish had gone differently…)

I have been lucky in my life…

I have lived my life, trying to make good choices… being open and as transparent as I can be.

Not having hidden agendas, means or methods.

I do business on a handshake, and when I say I’m going to do something, I do it.

I’m not saying I’m perfect… far from it !!!

But with things inside my control, I have relatively few regrets in my life.

I got to spend amazing quality time with both my parents before they passed away.

I have a wonderful, loving wife, and live in a house that is paid for.

Through charity and work, I have met and made wonderful friends, who we don’t see enough… but life is busy… and we touch base as often as we can.

There is one regret I have, and wish I could have a “do over” on.

 

When I ran a Store at UBC, I found out too late that one of my employees suffered from Depression.

It was 1993, well before I personally encountered depression, and before I knew really anything about it.

I had noticed the healed scars on her wrists, but as she was an athlete, I never gave it too much mind, just putting it down to a sports surgery.

Cheryl was a member of the UBC Basketball Team, and after and between classes, she worked at the Store.

She had a quiet sense of humour, and when engaged, would join in the spirited back and forth banter of our Crew.

It was late May, and we were between Seasons.  The School Year was past, and exams were done.  Tourists were not yet travelling.

With her room mate out of town for a few days… one day, Cheryl didn’t show up for her shift.

The phone calls to her house were, at first, joking… but as the day wore on, and there was no reply to our calls… we became more worried.

Later that afternoon, we finally got an answer that was far worse than we’d feared… not that she had been in an accident, but that she had committed suicide.

We closed the store and sent everyone home.

I went for a walk in the bright sunshine, and wrote down some words in the Japanese Gardens on the UBC Campus.

Her death frightened me… beyond reasonable measure.

A few days later, when the arrangements had been made, and it was time for her funeral… I couldn’t muster enough courage to go.

I’ve always regretted that.

Her, taking her own life, scared me.

That she was able to be at work… be for all appearances normal… go out and have dinner with friends… come home, compose a goodbye letter, and extinguish her own life?

It shook me to my core.

Further, it shook me so much, that I didn’t go to the Service.  I “blinked”…

Even as I write this, I can’t put into words what it was that kept me from going… but I didn’t go.

 

A few years later, I would have my own encounter with depression.

The relatively sudden loss of both my Parents, and some other much loved family members… combined with a change in my job, moving to a new house, and other factors, all combined to push me into my own battle with depression.

With support and help, I made it back.

This upcoming weekend, there is a Mental Health Conference in Vancouver, dealing with the stigma and fear associated with Depression, and other Mental Health issues.

I know a lot of people who have it, or who had it.

I have fought it a few times, myself.

I won’t be at the MHC YVR 10 Conference, but I will throw my voice into the mix, saying I have battled Depression, and I believe that the more voices that speak up… the less the power that THAT stigma has.

I wish I had been able to better prepared to help Cheryl… and that there would have been better opportunities for support and counseling for her.

And I wish I would have gone to the Funeral, to support her friends and co-workers who didn’t blink.

9 Responses to Regrets… (A look back at events that I wish had gone differently…)

  1. thank you for this moving post, bob.

    i don’t know what to say. can i try this?

    there she goes, she turned it off, her life,
    and walked into another world.
    it was too much.
    or not enough.
    three hundred people at the gate,
    their minds grasping at
    what is not there:
    her body. and her words and smiles and
    little jokes and silly frowns,
    her socks and suitcase
    – empty now.
    we cannot understand.
    can we do more than say,
    yes this is it?
    and if we learn to understand
    that death exists,
    can we also, perhaps,
    grasp life?

    • Thank you, Isabella… for your kind words and for sharing the poem.

      Those are beautiful words.

      Here are the words I wrote that day:

      For Those You Left Behind
      (For Cheryl)

      Music & Lyrics By Bob Gray
      © May 27, 1993 Last verse © May 29, 1994

      You’ve found a place of inner peace. The rest you’d searched for, but had not found.
      A quiet stillness blankets you, where rest is long but dreams are drowned.
      But for those of us still earthbound here, who miss your smile, your laugh, your light,
      Now we feel the nightmares come, with each approach of dark and night.

      Chorus:
      What are we to do from here? How can we just carry on?
      There’s one less voice amongst us now, and one more angel sings.
      We hope that beyond the dark, you’ve found a brand new dawn,
      The darkness lasts forevermore, for those you left behind.

      What secrets held you to your soul? Tales so sad you could not tell.
      An anger that would not forgive, nor be forgot in time’s great well.
      What was it that gnawed inside, and like an angry banshee’s scream,
      Came bursting forth to start the night, create this angry, abscessed dream.

      (Repeat Chorus)

      And now a year has come and gone, the pain has passed from you to us.
      It lingers every bit as strong, and the question still hangs, “Why?”
      And how can something burn so bright, like a torch, into the night?
      Yet be put out and leave no light… for those of us you left behind.

      (Repeat Chorus)

  2. Excellent post Bob, as one who is ‘lucky’ enough to have ADD I often avoid sharing this fact with others due to the stigma, yet other times I just let it rip and share away. 9 times out of 10 the response is ‘no kidding, like we didn’t see that’ and supportive.

    It seems as time goes on it gets easier…that and the whole ADD entrepreneur thing has become ‘cool’…for those that don’t know the same ADD that may make us great entrepreneur makes it just as hard to be a great entrepreneur.

    Thanks for sharing your story of crossing the mental health path not once but twice in completely different shoes.

  3. Thanks for a thoughtful post, Bob. I too have had battles with depression. I think it’s something one needs to experience to truly understand. I’m grateful that there has been so much progress with treatment options. Hopefully, the stigma will one day be gone.

    • Thanks Doug –
      I think the more people talk about it… the more folks say… “Yeah, I went through something like that. Is THAT what that was?”
      I know I got another co-worker (later on) to talk to someone, after she described what she was feeling.
      Talking about it SHOULD be the easy part… not the hard part !!!
      Hopefully neither of us experiences it firsthand, again !

  4. Me too! I’m in the club too and now I can ‘see’ more readily when someone is suffering from anxiety or depression. I am so eager to help that I think I go overboard sometimes, but it’s because I’ve been there and I do remember the pain. Like Doug said, you can’t appreciate it if you haven’t experienced it.

    Thanks for the great post Bob!

    • Thanks for the comment, Ronda !
      It’s tough when you see someone battling it, and because of the stigma… they won’t admit, or even consider getting help for it.
      We’re on the road… but we’re not there yet !!!

  5. Hi Bob, and thanks for the follow on Twitter :).

    Read this post and thought I’d say “It’s OK.” The fact is, IMO, your time and experience with Cheryl have most likely made you more aware “from then on” – that’s a good thing ;).

    I live with and love someone who lives with depression every single day and it’s a constant fear that I will lose him someday. However, he also has a HUGE talent for communicating to/with others about it; it’s given him that “edge” and “knowing” and he’s done his best to teach me to live with him ;). I bring all this up because I found it fortuitous that he posted this article yesterday, and I read your blog today 😉

    (Post no longer available)

    Cheers,
    Jodie

    • Hi Jodie –
      It *is* okay.
      We do the best we can, and as long as we learn from our journey… we continue to grow.
      Cheryl had suffered from abuse as a teen, struggled with her sexual identity, and suffered from other demons.
      “Stuff” she never shared, until after she had killed herself…
      It is certainly a… (struggle seems too negative) …balancing act ??? …to love, live with, and try to understand the fight with depression, from inside a relationship.
      I was lucky to have my wife’s support, as I’m sure your sweetie is with you.
      Thank you for sharing that article.
      I hope you don’t mind that I RT’d the link.
      Cheers !
      Bob

      If wishes were horses

Leave a reply

5 × two =