Reaching for the Heart of Spring
More than 30 years ago, I tried to end my life at this time of year. The previous December my first child, a girl named Anna, died two days after she was born. Her fatal heart defect came as a terrible shock. I was grieving, of course, but as the weeks passed I realized that I had also completely lost the knack for staying alive.
Whatever engine in the brain or body keeps people moving forward, driven by the biological instinct for survival, had simply sputtered out in me. Within weeks, anxiety had become an overwhelming physical sensation. I awoke in the dark, at three or four in the morning, and sat up with my heart pounding, my mind spinning its wheels through the various unlikely fixes for the unmoored condition I was in: get a new job, apply to graduate school, move back to the city, move to the countryside. Suicide began to press itself into this list of potential solutions.
The powerful feeling of loss had turned into something else: a constant thrumming of dread. Each day felt endless, with no sense of forward motion, no belief that I would ever feel better.
Time was unbearable: time needed to stop. One morning I admitted aloud that it would be better if I were dead.
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And when you've got it, you want—oh, you don't know quite what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so! Where spring is advancing, as it does, no matter what, not being singular or particular, but one of the forever gifts, and certainly visible. The only thing that could spoil a day was people, and if you keep from making engagements, each day had no limits. People were always the limiters of happiness except for the very few that were as good as spring itself.
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