The Third Alternative

In the small hours of tonight, at around 4am, I’ll wake up. That is, I’ll wake up if I ever actually go to sleep.

Nine years ago, at around 4am, on May 10th, I was forced awake by a few words spoken to me by my father. A few words I remember incredibly well. A few words that changed everything.

My brother, Simon, was dead. He took is own life. I don’t talk about it too often these days, but if someone asks me about it I’ll answer in as much detail as I can. I’m not afraid to talk about suicide, or loss, and I hope that some of you who read this lack that fear too. Only in talking about what breaks our hearts, and what pains our minds, can we begin to realise that suicide is not the only path.

A few weeks ago I reproduced here a poem by Catullus that I read at Simons funeral. It’s well worth a read if you’re interested. I did it because of a friends loss, but it brought mine back to me so forcefully that it has stayed with me. I say that as if it ever really goes away, but it doesn’t. So this is my piece to remember him this year. Remember him in a way that others might also think of him, and remember him in a way that’s positive.

I have two things I want to end with: Firstly, please talk to someone if you’re not feeling great. It doesn’t matter who it is. Or indeed just be a person that’s willing to listen to someone. And secondly a little motivation, from the mind of Neil Gaiman, and the pages of Fables & Reflections:

“It is sometimes a mistake to climb;

it is always a mistake never even to make the attempt.

If you do not climb you will not fall. This is true.

But is it that bad to fail, that hard to fall?

Sometimes you wake,

and sometimes, yes, you die.

But there is a third alternative…

Sometimes, when you fall, you fly.”

Here’s to flying.

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