Lesser Known Saint

Rest in peace, Ellen

Two years ago my close friend, Ellen Heitman, committed suicide. The lyrics for our song “Rose, Rose” are (in part) about her, and my thoughts and feelings about her life and her decision to end it. They are about acknowledging the severe importance of something you love and might not have forever.

We played a show right around this time last year, and “Rose, Rose” was on our setlist. I knew I was going to dedicate the song to her, and I’d been thinking in the hours leading up to the show that I wanted to at least talk briefly about how I was feeling. I’m not usually one to proselytize during our performances, but it was important to me that I at least try to say something. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to get more than a few words out before I had to divert all my energy to choking back tears.

So I will say now what I wanted to say a year ago:

I haven’t had to deal with much tragedy yet in my life. I realize I’m very lucky in that regard. Ellen’s death serves to remind me how people can be taken from us when we’re not expecting it.  With suicide, in particular, I think it’s hard not to feel a sense of self-blame; that maybe if I’d just called or written more, and reassured her she was loved, she wouldn’t have reached a point of such hopeless despair.

Regardless of your faith or ideology, it is so crucial to remember we only have a finite period of time on this planet.  And while we’re here, it doesn’t matter whether there is something after this life or not.  We live in a world filled with division and hate, and we exist in a society which often places more importance on fashion and status than camaraderie and acceptance.  But we’re here, and that’s it – and how we treat each other now is all that counts.

You owe it to yourself, and those around you – whether you love them, or you don’t even know them – to respect people despite their faults and love them for their differences.  It’s an ideal I strive for each day… I think, on my best days, I maybe succeed.

Take care, and much love to all of you.

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