…no single, individual moment is in and of itself unendurable. – David Foster Wallace
The drudgery and monotony of everyday life often precludes any enjoyment of that life – a feeling akin to having a secure wall safe hidden behind a painting, but nothing valuable to put inside. If even one of the simple and basic things that we need to stay alive is floundering, it can magnify negativity in everything. If just a few are functioning properly, we can deal with anything that comes along.
The rain was pouring hard, almost sideways. We stood in a crumbling doorway across the street from the bookstore. Gathering up your energy, you suddenly kissed me on the forehead and took my hand, pulling me into a run. Across the parking lot we dashed, dancing with raindrops, and quickly ran right into the bookstore. You reached into your bag and placed a stack of folded notes into the hand you still held. I looked at you quizzically. You just smiled and took me to the philosophy section.
“Put one of these inside each book.”
“What are they?” I asked.
I complied happily, if confusedly. While you went to another section of the store, I surreptitiously hid one of the notes in my pocket for later perusal.
When we were finished placing the notes, we sat at a table in the little cafe inside the bookstore and had coffee. I looked at you with a smile and a wink, and took the paper out, unfolding it carefully.
Whatever else is happening in your life, know that you are loved.
The note fluttered from my hand. I never loved anyone or anything more than I loved you at that moment.
You had been coming to this bookstore since before we met a year ago. I thought the bookstore was your zen happy place, where you could be alone and have time to yourself and think, and it was, but this time you invited me. You allowed me to share this quirky thing you did with me. It was hardly a dark and shameful secret, but it was a secret nonetheless. Your secret, now revealed, exposed another secret that I had unknowingly kept from us both.
I began tearing up immediately. You slid your chair next to mine and taking my face in your hands you said “what is it?” I touched your hands lovingly, staring into your warm caring eyes, and then kissed you hard, as though my life depended on it. And it did.
My mind traveled back to a few weeks before I met you. I never told you this, but… I was in a very dark place then. The nightmares, panic attacks and feelings of worthlessness and despair possessed and consumed me. Strolling down these city streets hoping something horrible happened to me, I went to a pawn shop to purchase a revolver, changed my mind. I went again a few days later, and didn’t. The law imposed a waiting period akin to death row. Just three days of life. How to kill time before I killed…
I walked to this very bookstore and searched for a deep and meaningful work to read before oblivion. Taking the book home, I poured myself a very large drink and started reading. It was difficult to get through because every part of me was screaming ‘why bother?’ – and those voices weren’t talking about the book. A few pages in, I noticed a tiny slip of paper stuck between the pages. I pulled it out and unfolded it, taking a swig of my bourbon.
Whoever you are, please know there is at least one person who loves you. I love you.
I immediately broke down. My mind, my thoughts, the voices, they stopped torturing me all at once. Those touching words were a counterspell to my misery. They moved me deeply. The idea that someone out there loved me, that someone could love me, changed me. I could stay around on this goddamned planet for a while…
I never went back to the pawn shop. A few weeks later I met you, a bubbling bundle of energy encased in a beautiful shell. You were the best thing I ever happened to.
The kiss well and truly delivered, tearing up with overwhelming gratitude, I whispered “you saved my life.”
I want to express a deep gratitude to all of you who ever inspired someone to keep on living. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.