Enslaved by Demons

With Passover and Easter rapidly approaching, many of their symbols and themes offered possible topics for this week’s blog. However, it is the concept of slavery – or more accurately the notion of being enslaved – that kept taking hold of me.

A former colleague of mine took his life a few days ago. He was fifty-one. For the three years I worked with him, I never heard him say a bad word to or about anyone. He greeted everyone with a smile and, as the resident tennis pro, adults and children alike seemed to love him. Reflecting back, I fondly remember him offering to teach me how to play tennis. He smirked and shook his head when I told him (with a wink!) that I refused to engage in activities that would make me sweat.

He is the fourth person I’ve personally known to commit suicide. In each case (all were under the age of fifty-five), not one of the two men or two women gave any indication or left any real explanation of why death was preferred over life. Family and friends could not have predicted that their loved ones’ end would come so soon.

*     *     *

I can’t get excerpts from this The Band Perry song out of my head….

“If I Die Young”

….If I die young, bury me in satin

Lay me down on a bed of roses

Sink me in a river at dawn

Send me away with the words of a love song

The sharp knife of a short life, oh well

I’ve had just enough time

A penny for my thoughts, oh, no, I’ll sell ‘em for a dollar

They’re worth so much more after I’m a goner

And maybe then you’ll hear the words I been singin’

Funny when you’re dead how people start listenin’

If I die young, bury me in satin

Lay me down on a bed of roses

Sink me in the river at dawn

Send me away with the words of a love song

Uh oh (uh, oh)

So put on your best, boys, and I’ll wear my pearls.

*     *     *

Funny when you’re dead how people start listenin’… That line gives me chills. Is that part of the problem? Do we not listen to others often or closely enough to hear their pain? Do we ignore the signs in their speech or behavior that are cries for help?

We all know people who are enslaved by “demons;” anxieties, addictions, fears, and other challenges that dominate, subjugate, and overshadow them. Sometimes we are aware of the issues, but other times we are not…though we might suspect. And, to be fair (and a bit defensive), since we really cannot know exactly what’s going on inside someone else’s head or heart, we shouldn’t blame ourselves over situations like these that we cannot control or fix. However, I think it’s human nature to want to help someone who is struggling or hurting…even if they never ask for – or want – our help. I think it’s natural to wonder if we are doing – or could have done – something to help them break free of their shackles.

This year, at our Passover Seders, let’s say a prayer for those who literally or figuratively are enslaved today…a prayer that they may find a positive way to escape and be free.

Rest in peace and may your memory be for a blessing.

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