I’ve read a lot of stuff about Cornell’s suicide this past week, and this comes close to what I want to say.
I was also a big Chris Cornell fan. As a lover of music and writing, he was special. This week, I reminded myself of that by watching performances and interviews. I watched–trying to see the darkness. And while it was there, more often, I saw a man I respected and liked–someone I wished had been my friend.
I’ve never grappled with long-term depression, and I have often wondered why I was spared. But I wasn’t–not really. I grew up swimming in it. My resilience, often in the face of a lot of BS that I inherited, came because I didn’t accept it as mine. I knew it was a lie, and I sought help as soon as I could. Part of that was how I was raised. Part of that is being a restless soul–always seeking. Part of that was watching my father drink himself to death. Chris did that. He went to rehab. He got treatment. By all accounts, he chose life.
Not everyone is capable of that. I’ve lost many friends to suicide–many who–like Chris–seemed to be choosing life. Then, suddenly, they were gone and it felt like such a betrayal. Like it couldn’t be true. And we may never know, really, if it was a drug and an impulse–or just a final resignation.
As many have mentioned this week, we all have an obligation to check in on each other and support one another. But having supported my precious friends and having kept them alive a few more days–months–years even–and knowing those feelings–I also know that nothing I do or say is enough if someone is drowning. I’m not a lifeguard. Ultimately, our friends can’t save us. They can’t do our work for us. All they really can do is love and accept us. We have to choose to save ourselves. The onus is on us to decide to stay. I make that choice every day. And every day, I love others who make that choice too. And some days, the only reason I kept going was because one of them didn’t.
Know that you are loved. Know that you matter. Know that every life changes something somewhere.