75 – Epilogue

Life sure is something, isn't it? We are born, we grow up, we do some things, and then we die. The particulars are all over the place, but that's the gist of it, isn't it? Where do we come from? Where do we go? Is there something else, an afterlife, a greater meaning? A lot of us hope so, but the proof is never quite as solid as many would want it to be. So, above all else, life is a mystery. Sometimes a person is snuffed out before they really get to experience enough of it to make a conclusion. Others are lucky and get so much time they actually get old and tired of seeing it, and are just ready to move on.

This is not a story about those kinds of people. It's about the rarer case, the sadder case. It's about a person who did come to a conclusion at a young age, and that conclusion led them to a sad end. As far as I can tell, the entire point of the universe points towards one ultimate meaning: survival. Life exists to beget more life. The one sure way to face death without fear or regret is to believe in an existence greater than yourself, and the most intimate and immediate existence beyond yourself are the souls you bring into existence, the children you birth and raise, and to whom you entrust the future. That's the real dream. That is the triumph. In the game of survival, life is an abiding victory.

So a person who goes directly against that meaning, a person that wants to end their own life- I can't imagine anything more tragic.

We do not enter this world alone. At the very least, we will have our mothers. That seems to me by design. In reality, we have more. Our fathers, and grandmothers and grandfathers. Siblings, cousins, and aunts and uncles. These are the inherent blood ties. They can't be severed, no matter how much we might sometimes want to. Your mother will never not be your mother, and your father will never not be your father, and your child will never not be your child- so love them, always. These bonds will be as good or bad as you make them, and you can't unmake them- so try to make them good.

Then the relationships we forge through the process of living. Friends form the basis of our emotional well-being. Comrades and coworkers help the collective goal of survival, to ensure our basic needs, wants, and comforts. Leaders provide guidance and stability. They all form a web of interdependency that extends across the planet. Without it, we all probably perish. Our food networks rely on working with one another, trusting one another, and caring for one another on a basic human level.

And then, there is the closest, dearest bond: that between lovers. This affliction we call love has a stranglehold on our psychology to the point hardly no human being can escape it. It exists to facilitate that fundamental purpose, procreation. Yet humans are not plants, passively and dispassionately reproducing via spore method. We come together, we grow intimate, we grow dependent, and we beget a child, and we raise that child together, the combination of ourselves. The process of bringing new life is so special that our very DNA is wired to treat that one specific person in our life as a relationship beyond all others, a treasured connection fueled by lust, love, and deep wellsprings of caring.

All these connections serve to demonstrate that we cannot exist alone, physically. Our minds are geared towards that necessity, and have made our mental state dependent on that as well. Our emotional wellbeing is a reflection of the physical realities we face. It is our primal interface with the universe.

This then is the lesson:

If we value life-

If we love the experience of experiencing things-

Feeling, seeing, smelling, tasting, hearing, touching-

Creating memories-

Feeling emotions-

Learning about the world-

And each other-

And ourselves-

If this is at all important to you-

Then you owe your ability to do all of these things to the effort of others.

And in turn, you should do your part to further others' ability to experience life as well.

Which ultimately means, our lives dwell in the hands of others.

So please, I beg of you all. Help one another, and seek out those poor souls who have given up on their own desire to go on living. Their lives are in your hands as well. Be there for them. Love them. Because...

"Love must be given for it to be received."

You know, this simple truth never occurred to me.

All this time, everything I've been through, I only ever thought about myself, and the love that I thought was being denied to me, and I cursed my existence, and resolved to end it. I was so selfish. And so, in the bitter cold, with snow falling all around, I stepped out onto Crescent Bay Bridge, hopeless, wholly prepared to fling my life into the waves, with no one and nothing to stop me...

... and found someone already there, eyes downcast, staring into the abyss...

...and standing on the wrong side of the railing.

"...Ethan?"