It’s that time of year again.
Ever since we were children, we’ve looked forward to the holidays as a joyful time of family, friends and celebration. What I always forget, until it rears its ugly head every December, just like clockwork, is the sadness that so many people seem to experience during the holidays.
I guess I am one of them. If you read my previous post here, you know I lost my mother just before Christmas when I was a child. I always remember, reflect, and still feel a little sad, even after all these years.
But I’m not the only one writing about things not so jolly. I’ve read innumerable poems recently that resonate with sadness. Some are writing about losing a family member or close friend, others about broken relationships. I was even brought to tears by an eloquent and loving post about a dying pet.
What is it about the holidays?
I know that experts and supporting statistics say that people are no more depressed during the holidays. It’s a myth, they say. Well, maybe so, but I’m not convinced.
Something really sad happened today. Like many others, I had the urge to write a poem about it. And I tried, but I just couldn’t do it. I need to say more. So I’m going to say it, changing the names to protect the privacy of a friend.
Two years ago, I met a man named Matt. He and his wife Susie are delightful, and I liked them instantly. Did you ever wonder what happened to all those flower children of the 60s? Well, Matt and Susie are two of them, now living the middle-class suburban life just like the rest of us. But the past is still with them. The walls of their home are covered with photographs. There they are, young and idealistic and draped in tie-dye. They lived in the Haight in the 60s and drove a psychedelic VW bus that was a real rat. An iconic rat, but a rat nonetheless.
You would probably never guess that Matt and Susie were those hippies you’ve seen in the movies and, if you are old enough, on The Huntley-Brinkley Report nightly news. They are over 70 now, gray-haired and wrinkled. But if you talked to them, you would sense that there was something different about them. The best word I can find to describe them is mellow. Totally appropriate for old hippies, don’t you think? Yes, mellow.
Matt and Susie live in Florida, and I haven’t seen them for several months. But in my mind’s eye, they are down there, groovin’ beneath the palm trees. Then yesterday I got an e-mail.
There will be a memorial service for Matt Smith on Tuesday December 28, 2010 at 11:00AM at the Jones Funeral Home.
I was stunned. An Internet search turned up an obituary in the Florida paper that said nothing other than to announce Matt’s death and give the name of the funeral home “handling arrangements.” I sent an e-mail to a mutual friend, asking what had happened. Matt was 73. Heart attack, I thought, or maybe a stroke.
This morning that mutual friend called. “I got the notice about Matt. What happened???”
With incredible sadness in her voice, she said, “Patti, Matt shot himself.”
Apparently, Matt had had some “business setbacks.” He took the trash and a gun, and went out to the condo dumpster area. He didn’t come back. To say I am shocked doesn’t begin to describe it. Mellow Matt. Business setbacks? Maybe.
But it’s that time of year again.