Death sucks but dying a dumb death is even suckier. We'd all love to die at a ripe old age shortly after we discover we've become terminal and have had a chance get our affairs in order including telling our loved ones how much we cherish them. Or if we have to die suddenly at least it would be great if we could die in some heroic fashion- rushing into a burning building to save children perhaps. And if we have to die a longer lingering death it would be a given we'd like to do it with grace and dignity. But that doesn't happen for everyone. Some people die an unhappy ending and it adds to the sadness of the whole sucky situation.
Philip Seymour Hoffman was a fabulous actor and seemed like a really good guy too so I was deeply saddened when I heard he died last week. After a young talented person dies in their prime with so much left to give it makes everyone ponder what could have been... it makes me kinda pissed.
It reminds me of how Chris died. Christopher was my college sweetheart and he was a super smart, super sweet guy who died of an accidental drug overdose in 2002. He was diagnosed as bi-polar in his early twenties and instead of staying on regular medication self-medicated with drugs on and off for years. One of the things that is hard to explain to people who have never had someone they love with this issue is the backstory. Not that either dying from mental illness or drug-addiction is any worse thing to deal with then any other illness, but I do remember being mad at him that he died of something preventable. At least, not inevitable.
There is a certain amount of embarrassment that follows a bad death and you want to protect the memory of the person you love. I'm not sure what drove PSH to drugs and to hear people talk about his talent is nice yet makes me wonder if those close to him are now feeling the same mix of anger and anguish I did. In my workshop I tell the story of how the Chicago Police notified me of Chris's death and the drama that followed. But it always makes me feel uneasy that I don't get to tell the whole story of what a brilliant engineer, great dancer, and good guy he was and how much he loved me and adored his sister and admired his grandfather.
I still get mad at Chris sometimes even now over a decade later because he died of something as stupid as taking drugs. I get annoyed at the fights we used to have about his pride and how he hated having to be on medication yet thought little of drugging himself with street drugs. Then occasionally guilt pops up because I wasn't able to help him and I was one of his last calls. I let myself wallow for a bit then I remember we each choose our lives. Help and love was offered to him and this is the path he chose so I need to have compassion for his decisions (no matter how puzzeling I found them) and how he chose to live his life.
If you need help with your life please get some- you deserve a decent ending and dying alone with drugs is not worthy of anyone. And if you love someone with a drug or mental illness issue tell them what you want to say now and leave no doubt how much you want them to live a good long life. Then go live a great life yourself because you deserve it and I know that's what Chris would have wanted for me and anyone he came across.