Yesterday I wrote a personal tribute to Robin Williams. While I had many good-hearted people who were equally saddened by Robin's death, I was shocked and hurt that some of you chose to brand Robin a coward, owning not an ounce of compassion for someone who was battling his demons..and lost.
I saw many equally unsympathetic responses to Robin's death across many message boards over the last couple of days. "Coward" was the favorite word. Amazingly, some of the same people who give our soldier's a little slack for having PTSD, offer none for a civilian fighting their own personal battles.
This is not the first time I've seen members of the conservative community inflict shock and hurt. A few months ago someone in Congress proposed that young illegal "dreamers" be given a chance to win their citizenship by serving four years in our military service. Well, you would have thought the world was coming to an end as the right wing chicken hawk fanatics (who've never served a day in the military) took exception to that idea. So, I posted my own thoughts on a Facebook page of a group who were urging the killing of this bill. And, as I said, since only 1 percent of Americans ever choose to serve these days, this great ire was coming from folks who have no clue about what military service is all about. They had no clue about the amount of personal sacrifice is involved in even on four year tour.
Well, I was pilloried all over that site. My 22 years of military service held no coin for these people..they were dead set against allowing "filthy Mexicans" to serve our country. I, on other hand have learned that most folks come out of the military with a greater sense of love and loyalty for their country, a better understanding of our rich ethnicity, and have learned to put self a notch below your brotherhood...a trait that makes one a better member of their community as well. But that radical right onslaught of my view was savage indeed. That was the first time I began to realize that I have to be extra cautious about who I hang with.
So yesterday I was equally hurt by folks so totally incapable of understanding that chronic depression is a medical condition, and sometimes their demons drive them to suicide. And what do I think of suicide? I was raised to believe, and still do believe that suicide is a sin, that it's a rejection of life..that it is the spitting in the face of our creator.
But I also know that suicide is not always a personal choice...that sometimes it is driven by a medically derived chronic condition. And I also know that those who have suffered for years with this condition are damn sure not cowards!
I know this from my heart. I know it from personal experience. Most of you old timers will know that each May 1st I publish my annual "Happy Birthday, Johnboy", a tribute to my son who has passed. What I have never revealed is that my son was also clinically depressed and that he took his own life, in the same manner Robin Williams did last Sunday night.
I will not entertain anyone here with the many efforts my family and I made to save our son. Suffice it to say that our efforts were legion. Of even greater sorrow was the even greater effort our son made to try and save himself. I'm sorry but when I see folks using the word coward to describe these poor souls I just want to punch someone in the mouth. The last nine months of my son's life were filled with his massive offering of love to all of us....with his struggles every hour of every day to persevere...to try and save himself. Sadly, just when we thought the battle was won, the demons came one dark night and carried him away from us.
Our son's passing left a huge hole in our life. Our days have never been what they were before. Even now we ache with sorrow and regret.
But I can say with great assurance that my son is in heaven. God did not call him a coward. Instead, He hauled my Johnboy up in his arms and soothed him and praised him for fighting his demons for so very long....and said "rest now, my son, for you are loved".