A Distant Family Member Committed Suicide, This is What I Learned
I don’t have much time.
We weren’t even that close.
I just remembered his soulful eyes before exiting the bungalow-like house in Thailand — Uncle Duoy placing a Swiss pocket knife into my hands as a farewell gift.
“Khup khun ka”,” I said as I gave a wai to my uncle that I met for the first time and also for my last. I was touched by his thoughtfulness — an utter stranger until now — as he helped to wheel luggage out into the rain and into the car.
To this day, I still use his pocketknife. I have taken it everywhere I would go, in my backpack or purse, and on my travels. It’s a remnant of Thailand, my heritage, my roots, my uncle — born of my grand-aunt Bpaa Theap and grand-uncle Charlie.
Unlike the stereotypes, my grand-aunt did not meet my grand-uncle at a bar, as a prostitute, or as a mail-order bride.
She was a translator at the Thai Embassy. Uncle Charlie also worked for the Embassy for the US. They fell in love, got married, and had three children before the car accident — a hit-and-run which left my aunt a widow raising three kids on her own — Uncle Duoy included.
These moments, the tragedies, the smallest of things and the greatest of things seemingly shaped… seemingly compounded.
After my uncle’s death, more information came out surrounding the possible reasons why he did it.
Depression, owing the wrong people money, gambling, debt, his wife’s affair and leaving with another man…
“Everyday” issues that we often dismiss as part of life, but really shouldn’t be part of life. At all.
Living life with depression every day is not living…
Being a slave to debt, people breaking vows, and unfaithfulness are all issues common in the world, but still — isn’t living either.
They are all vices that slowly and meticulously crush our soul and spirit- they kill us inside.
You Are Here and You Only Have Today
It wasn’t too long ago when my father recounted an activity that his boss did with him and his group. He gave my dad and his colleagues 5 minutes to write everything they wanted to accomplish in 5 years. As they started to write, his boss stopped them after 3 minutes.
“Time isn’t up yet,” one of the colleagues responded. The boss responded back:
That’s life. You never know when time is up.
If you only had 5 years, how would you live? What would you do?
How about if you only had 3 years? One?
If we are not living life to the fullest, it’s because we are not living life urgently enough.
Life is precious. Time is ticking. The reality is that we don’t have a lot of time in this world. As morbid as that may sound, that should also be our motivator.
It should be the motivator to live life on survival mode — to choose to establish healthy routines in our lives so we CAN savor and live moment-by-moment, to be present in every situation and environment we find ourselves in, to love others and build memories in the moment before it passes and ticks away…
As I think of my uncle, I would never have imagined that he would have taken his life. He was rich by Thailand’s standard.
But for him, he saw life too long to endure — not ticking by fast enough. He was going through an inner storm far more tempestuous than any storm I have come across.
I will never truly understand my uncle’s reasons, but it doesn’t matter. I cannot escape into the past and try to reason how his life could have had a different outcome if I just visited him and the family… to say “I love you”.
All I can change is what I do now. Today, I can choose to love myself every day and remember the image I was made in on this earth:
To remember I am — just as each and every one of us is — built for purpose.
It’s only then I can help change my world. As overused as it is, loving others starts when we love ourselves wholly and unconditionally.
My uncle’s choice helped to open my eyes and make me realize:
Life is too short not to live it.
It’s too short not to add meaning to it.
We can’t wait for life to magically swoop by and grant us happiness, peace, and joy. We have to create life. We have to find the ways to see with fresh eyes, to find meaning, to be born again each day: to live.
We have less than 100 years to discover and live out our purpose. Anything can happen in between.
So if you only have today…
What are you going to do?