Thursday, August 18, 2011

KM Column for the Jackson Progress-Argus

I recently walked across the country, a trek that took me the better part of 5 months. Upon my return, I learned the sad news that a friend of mine here in Butts County has decided to end her life, back in April, when I was still in the early days of my walk. Needless to say, this was terribly disturbing news, since I had sent her, and her co-workers a funny postcard back in June, and was visiting their workplace to see if they had liked it. I had seen no indications of any kind of depression when I last saw her in March. She was recently divorced, has just moved into her own place, and all seemed well.
What I found to be more disturbing, though, was the attitude of one of her co-workers. When I visited the place where they worked, this particular worker (someone that my friend never liked, and she told me so privately) took great and obvious delight in telling me the sad news. She also went out of her way to tell me that after my friend killed herself, the place where they work called in a counselor, who recommended a book called, (and this is telling) The Sociopath Next Door. This person then went so far as to put on a great big grin and tell me how much the book helped her get through it once she knew what the signs of sociopathic behavior are. She added tha5t my friend did indeed show all the signs.
I’ve known true sociopaths. My friend was not one of them. My friend had a lot of problems, including alcoholism, which was, as I understand it, directly involved in her demise , so any diagnosis of anything else must be filtered through that fact. For a counselor, who did not know my friend and who obviously did not talk to her, to make a summary judgment that she was a sociopath is unconscionable and unprofessional. And for this co-worker to go out of her way to slam the memory of a good and kind woman of wit and knowledge and humor and compassion is even worse, on a human level.
I just walked the better part of three thousand miles. I saw sights many people will never see. I met people, in places so wide ranging and wonderful that I will never forget. I talked with them, shared experiences with them, got to know them. With one exception (a rent-a-cop with an attitude in a gas station in Walnut Grove, Alabama), they were all truly wonderful people and I didn’t get a bad vibe or feeling from any of them. Then I return to my home city, and hear vicious words spoken about a friend of mine who took a drastic action one night in April, and put an end to a tortured life…a permanent solution to a temporary problem.
Life is too short for this kind of bitterness. I wonder if the coworker saw signs of herself in that book….because speaking ill of the dead….just is not right…and not what human beings do.
Rest in peace, my friend.

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