The library is full of stories but not just in the books. While I’m having a warm or doing the crossword or writing, I’m also listening. Today there was a toddlers’ group singing songs like “If you’re happy and you know it clap your hands.” Nearer to me, however, there were two men in their sixties whispering hellos.
“How are you?” asked the first.
“Not so good,” said the second, “my Grandson took his own life yesterday.”
The first man said nothing, not because he was being rude but because, though there were millions on the shelves around him, he couldn’t find the right words.
“24,” added the second man.
That’s all I heard, a tragic and tear-jerking blurb that as a writer got me wanting the rest of the story but as a human-being wanting to know what’s wrong with this world the little singing children will grow up with.
As they continued to warble “If you’re happy” I wondered what drove the 24-year-old to suicide, what made a man with the years stretching out in front of him end his days? What can be done about this awful state of affairs where the suicide rate seemingly continues to rise? If you read the Office of National Statistics it’s a very grim tale in this regard. And finally it got me asking grave questions of myself: though I sometimes think I have nothing to live for, is my life really so bad? And if it isn’t, should I be ashamed of myself for being depressed and writing such downbeat prose over the past six months?
So in sparing a thought and lighting a candle for this young man I never knew and his grieving family I will never know, I should also be grateful for the gifts I do have and the thing I do know; that despite it all I am still happy. I know it, and I would really like to show it.