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  • Writer's pictureRaji Writes

Take My Hand

Updated: Oct 25, 2019

The past few weeks have brought jolting news of deaths by suicide, of fashion designer Kate Spade, celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain, and others less well-known.

Like many others, I reflected on their lives and their deaths, and the despair that led them to take their lives. I lamented the deaths of despair that a person can sink into, so deep that they feel the pain is unceasing and cannot be overcome, that the only way to end the pain is to end their lives.

"But they were so successful!" we find ourselves saying. "They had everything!" Depression can be brought on by life's circumstances, physical ailments, genetics, addictions. We may think that professional success and wealth are barriers over which depression cannot climb. But it can. And it does.

The mind is mysterious. Recently I wrote about a panel discussion I attended on mental illness. (Read it here.)

Like everyone, I have known sadness, grief, loss, heartbreak. Once, recently, the sadness I felt was unusual in its intensity and relentlessness. During those moments, I wrote this poem which begins

Sadness Here you are again My sometimes friend You came in the middle of the night I lay awake with you wrapped around my heart And there you stayed for a while.

I was taken aback by how I felt. I feel fortunate to be blessed with a strong psyche, strong friendships and a wonderful support system. And yet, there I was, in despair.

I imagined the despair that I had felt magnified a thousand-fold, even more, as I thought of the pain of those who have died by suicide. I wrote this poem to all who feel that hope is lost.

Creation of Life, Hands, Leonardo da Vinci

Take My Hand

When your despair

is a mountain

and you feel small

looking at it

when the knots in your stomach

the weight on your heart

and your rising anxiety

tell you you cannot take even one step

let alone the thousands you may need

when the journey seems endless

when the darkness encroaches

and it seems daylight will never come

when it seems easier

to close your eyes

and wish it all away

wish you away

from it all

Take my hand

let my fingers clasp yours

let my arms encircle you

and keep you safe

until your heart pounds a little less

until your panic is less pressing

until your despair lightens enough

so you can see me

and see the world

see you in it.

Take my hand, friend,

take my hand, stranger,

that I may give you

some strength

some hope

to take that first step.

Hold my hand

as long as you need to.

I’m right here

right here with you

right here for you.

My hand, pen and ink, circa 1988, drawn for an art class with Elliot Offner.

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