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School, golf, and chocolate (or, How to Save a Life)

October 10, 2013

I had an early start today, I would have to be up by 8am to shower and brush my teeth, take my insulin and meds and eat something and force down a coffee before leaving by 9am to get a bus into town, and from there another bus to hospital, a total journey of about an hour. So last night I decided to be good, I shut down the computer early and went to read, and by half past midnight the light was out and I was snuggled into bed.

Around 0230 I woke up again, fully awake. Unable to get back to sleep I went back online for a bit. Three or four episodes of QI and some chatting later, I was still awake. Around 0730 I decided the hospital can miss me for today, I’m going to bed.

I woke up again around 1130, and immediately something was wrong. It wasn’t so much that I wanted to die, as much as I felt no reason not to. For a long time I’ve been feeling like I’m only alive for other people, not myself, and any momentary enjoyment I feel is a distraction at best. My life, it has felt for many years, is essentially held hostage to the feelings of people I value and don’t want to leave behind, as it were. This funk continued. I curled back up and went back to sleep.

I woke again at 1430, wondering what is it today about waking up at half past the hour? I mumbled aloud through near-tears, “what meaning is there to any of it?” and pondered for a bit. Then the dog jumped up on me and told me he wanted to go out. Now even at my most depressed, I try not to put anyone out or neglect the dog, so I took him outside, and that’s when a neighbour did something strange. Jaffa, el Poocho, mon doggie, le Woofer, and my dog (everyone’s got multiple roles to play in these hectic modern times, even our furry friends) was peeing against a bush as is his wont when I heard footsteps charging down the hill and see a neighour, Riley, belting down toward me.

I like Riley a lot. I’ve always liked him. I met him one day when he was outside with his friends and someone smashed in the back window of a friend’s car that was parked next to my house. I marched out there and gave them all the Judge Dredd “You… are under… arrest!” treatment, and scared the life out of Riley. But whether it’s because of that or if he was just raised right, he’s always been polite to me, always said hello cheerily as he goes past on the street, and always makes me smile.

Today he stopped to chat for a few minutes, which he doesn’t normally do. I asked him what the new school is like, and where he was going. He told me he was off to get munchies at the shop, and then he was off out. “Anywhere nice?” I asked, as you do. “Golf,” came the surprising reply. He seemed more a football type. (“I do that too!” he smiled when I shared this thought.) I asked him how long he’s been playing golf, and he told me about four years.

Riley is eight years old.

For some reason that made me smile, and immediately cleared the suicidal fug that hovered over my mind for the day thus far, somehow made me think maybe things would be ok, if a kid like Riley exists, maybe there’s hope yet. Maybe there’s more too it and I feel protective of him, he who is a diamond, polite and friendly, in a sea of … well, the rest of Abercynon. I don’t feel exactly responsible for him, but somehow this kid is special to me and I want to protect him from the corruption and mess that surrounds us. I guess it reminded me that there are other people worth living for, regardless of my own mess. Even if nothing I do means anything to me, if I can help influence someone for the better, help them out, improve their life in some way, or just offer a smile when they need one, just like Riley unknowingly did for me today, then maybe I’m not a complete waste of matter.

Or maybe it was just the nicotine fix I was enjoying at the time. We may never know.



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