Hope in a hopeless time

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I rarely watch an entire movie. I just don’t surrender my time so freely. HGTV is my norm. Last night I decided to try a mini-series, Olive Kittredge. I was compelled by the story of a marriage, a wife overwhelmed and her day to day moving through a life she felt miserable living.

I think I was hoping to gain insight, perspective on another’s struggle.  Earlier in church, I surveyed the sanctuary and for some reason a quote by Billy Graham’s daughter resonated, “There’s a broken heart in every pew.”

Hoping to see how Hollywood shed light on an everyday woman’s depression, I was looking forward to this movie.

My daughter came in and I announced, “I’m watching  thinking movie tonight.”  Okay, she said as the first scene began.

Absolutely beautifully made, the scenery, the lighting, the acting immediately drew me in.  The first scene, an older, unkempt Olive spreads a tartan plaid blanket on the grass in an open field. She adjusts the dial on a radio and the camera follows the movement of her hands to an object wrapped in a bright cloth, a gun.

She holds her gaze on the gun, smoothing finger over the barrel, opening to check for bullet.  My plan to watch a “thinking movie” not so good maybe, after all

My daughter looks over and says, firmly and protectively.

“Don’t watch this mama. You have enough of this at work.”

So, we watched HGTV while scrolling Pinterest and eating warm banana walnut muffins.

I slept well last night, thank you Heather.

This morning, I thought about suicide as I read the R.I.P. comments, condolences, seemingly sincere support for a woman who decided to end her life before her condition got any worse. She was hopeless and decisive.

Years ago my mother was very sick, very angry and depressed. She had no control over the leprosy type autoimmune disorder that had taken its toll on her internal organs and had erupted into horrific and painful lesions over her entire body.

My aunt, her only sister was trying to care for her. My mama, outspoken, intelligent, and independent got more agitated, hopeless, and belligerent every day, thanks to her pain and a high dose of steroids.

One morning my aunt called, exhausted and helpless to tell me my mama had a plan to go home to the country and shoot herself. I asked her to give mama the phone.

I told my mother to please promise me she would not take her life. I reminded her of her grandchildren and I told her I would see her soon, me and the kids.

She cried. I listened.

I called the Baptist preacher who loved my grandfather despite his beer drinking, carousing, good time ways. The preacher who knew the stories of our lives, my heritage. I told him I lived two hours away and I did not want mama to die by suicide. I asked him to go see her. He did. The same day, and called me later.  He was firm and loving and mama lived six months more, her body giving up, giving in because it could go no more. She lived until it was time to die and we all said I love you’s through tears and acknowledgement of God deciding her final breath.

I have heard many stories of suicide, of lost hope. I have listened to the common thread of the bereaved…the person who died couldn’t see beyond their condition, had no hope for better beyond the pain, the sadness, the condition(s).

The sorrow of the ones left behind is just as significant whether it be 3 days or 30 years. The retelling of the story, the befuddled shaking of the head, the why, this choice, this way.  The unanswered questions and the reality of what could have been what have been is a sorrow that is palpable. For those who loved and are left behind to solve the sorrowful mystery there is always the need to know more, the longing to have done more, said more.

I listened to Brittany Maynard’s voice, her platform this evening. Rational and thoughtful, firm and resigned to end her life it is difficult not to agree with her decision.

Still, what does this say of Hope?

6 thoughts on “Hope in a hopeless time

  1. When I was young and heard such stories I would answer definitively in the black and white of my world view. The older I get the more gray the world seems. I side with life and hope for a miracle, faith, but if I knew not these I might make the same choice. How can I say? I hope I never have to know…
    Thank you for bravely and sensitively approaching the topic.
    Blessings of Great JOY on your journey with Jesus!

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  2. I have thought about Brittany’s decision many times this week. My mind continues to go back to her parents and her husband, and wondering how they are doing. It’s all completely beyond anything I can imagine. Years ago a good friend took his own life and I saw the way it gutted his family, but I think that’s quite different from when a family lovingly surrounds the one in pain. I wish that perhaps more effort went into helping the terminally ill with pain management administered at home and also surrounded by loved ones. I’ve heard too many stories of people being somewhat restricted from the drugs they can take while still in their homes. Significant pain relief might be a way to help others reconsider taking their own lives. I’ve gone on a bit…sorry for that. This family has just been on my mind so much this week. Thank your for acknowledging the subject so eloquently.

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