David Foster Wallace once wrote,
“Everything I’ve ever let go of has claw marks on it.”
Though written in a work of fiction, knowing Wallace struggled with deep, paralyzing depression, and that he would go on to take his own life at age 46, these words hold a certain autobiographical sting to them.
As much as we think we understand suicide, who can know what one is truly going through before they “erase their own map,” a phrase Wallace repeatedly used to describe the self-elimination process. Who can understand the inner workings of a broken brain, a depleted and defeated soul, save it be one who has committed the act himself, and these are they who cannot speak out, for they are gone.
The above quote opens me up and makes me think about the things or people I’ve lost, things I’ve let go of, or things that have slipped out of my careless grip. Losing friends, losing my grandma, just barely missing the chance to fall in love, the near-misses of life—looking back, a lot of it hurts. It hurts to let go and it hurts to be let go, and still other times you don’t want to let go, but your hands are bleeding and can’t hold on for another second, even though thats all you want in the world in that moment. It’s like a poor mother that cannot feed her crying hungry children. It smashes her heart, but she just can’t do it. Sometimes we just can’t do it.
But what things have I left my claw marks on? I like to think I try my best and give it all with things I love, but when the colors start to fade and the screws come loose, and things start to fall apart and slip away, how fierce is my hold? How easily will I quit? Am I willing to scratch and claw to hold on, or is the pain, the wincing, the torn fingernails too much?
So I look at my hands. I know they’ve bled at times. I know they’ve been rough and smooth from both overuse and inaction.
And though I’ve never felt the cajoling demons of final and personal destruction, and the clouds above me have never been so black as to obscure all light and chance of hope, I’ve lost dear friends, martyrs to the darkness. And I know they left claw marks on life, but they just couldn’t hold on any longer, and that breaks my heart in new terrible ways. Some nights I can’t sleep thinking about them; not that their gone, but just that life hurt them so much.
So what can I do? I guess I can hold on a little longer and a little tighter. And when I can’t hold on to something, I damn well better leave lines of blood from my weary and broken fingers.
Also, for the concerned and curious reader: My first book I’m Trying Here is available for purchase on Amazon and select bookstores. Signed copies can also be procured by contacting me any darn way you please. For my second book, Return Not Desired, see above avenues for attainment.