Die Trying

I sat up in bed last night, unable to sleep. After a few frustrating minutes of looking around the dark room, I reached across the bed to the nightstand, fumbling for my iPad and clumsily managed to put my thumb on the home button. As it flickered to life in a blinding blue light, I instinctively covered my eyes and turned my head. Then, carefully I opened one eyelid, and then the other. Slowly the image on the screen came into focus, an older gentleman standing nervously on a stage. “Is that a priest?” I mumbled out loud. 

It was my facebook feed and for whatever random reason or intentional algorithm, this post was from a 2018 episode from Britain’s Got Talent. April 21, 2018 to be exact. Two days before the worst day of my life. I couldn’t help but tap the screen. 

“Hello, nice to meet you,” Simon Cowell greeted the man. “What’s your name please?” 

“My name is Father Ray Kelly,” he replied into the mic in his hand. “I’m 64 years of age, and I’m a parish priest in Ireland.” The crowd came to life with a supportive cheer. 

“So tell me the song and why you’ve chosen it.” Simon asked Father Kelly.

“I’m going to sing the REM song, Everybody Hurts,” he replied. “…Being a priest, you get in touch with a lot of pain…I suppose it’s a song that….”

“You can relate to,” Simon finished the man’s words. 

“Yeah,” he concurred.

As an avid REM fan, I had listened to this song dozens if not hundreds of times. I had always thought that Michael Stipe had written the song after his friend, River Phoenix had taken his own life. But as it turns out it was written by REM’s drummer, Bill Berry as an anti-suicide song, to reach out to people who had no nope. Released in 1992, about the time Jennair and I had gotten engaged, it was a touching tribute, and a beautiful song that we had listened to together many times. But I had no idea. 

The backup track began with an unfamiliar, but strangely appropriate Irish violin intro. Then Father Kelly began singing in a vulnerable falsetto voice. 

When your day is long
And the night
The night is yours alone
When you’re sure you’ve had enough of this life
Well hang on

Almost instantly, my eyes became flooded with tears. “Fuck,” I whispered to the empty room.

Don’t let yourself go
Cause everybody cries
And everybody hurts
Sometimes

Sometimes everything is wrong
Now it’s time to sing along
(When your day is night alone)
Hold on, hold on
(If you feel like letting go)
Hold on

If you think you’ve had too much of this life
Well hang on
Cause everybody hurts
Take comfort in your friends
Everybody hurts
Don’t throw your hand

Oh, no
Don’t throw your hand
When you feel like you’re alone
No, no, no, you’re not alone
If you’re on your own

In this life
The days and nights are long
When you think you’ve had too much
Of this life
To hang on

Well, everybody hurts
Sometimes, everybody cries
And everybody hurts
Sometimes

And everybody hurts
Sometimes
So, hold on, hold on
Hold on, hold on
Hold on, hold on
Hold on, hold on

(Everybody hurts
You are not alone)

I laid my iPad down down on my chest and cried myself to sleep. 

When I awoke this morning, that song still echoing in my mind, I went into a bit of tailspin, wondering Jennair’s last thoughts, regretting the pain I knew I had caused her. Ending her life and Meredith’s because she felt her life wasn’t worth living for. Her plan was designed to inflict the maximum amount of damage on me. The ultimate revenge. Hoping the image of finding them would forever haunt me. It worked. Some days, over the past 21 months not every day, I have often wondered why the hell I get up. 

As I began to write this post, I remembered something I had written down in my notebook months ago. “Die trying.” It was a reminder to myself to always find the courage to live. To not give in. To at least try. Because, when the worst has already happened, what’s the worst that can happen? 

Sadly, thousands of people kill themselves every day, and I don’t completely understand their pain or begrudge their final choice, including my wife’s. But I have come to believe that life is a gift too precious to squander. No matter how much you think you’ve fucked it up, no matter how much someone hurts us, we have to find the strength to press on, if not for ourselves then for the people that we love, and for the people we have yet to know, to learn from and to love. 

It’s become my mantra, something I tell myself when I feel like I can’t do something, when it’s all too much, when I don’t care if tomorrow comes. 

Die trying.


If you ever get to the point that you feel you can’t go on, please reach out for help. Call someone you love or trust or call 800-273-TALK (8255).

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4 thoughts on “Die Trying”

  1. RIP Jennair
    I would have given you all of my heart
    But there’s someone who’s torn it apart
    And he’s taking just all that I had
    But if you want, I’ll try to love again
    Baby, I’ll try to love again, but I know
    The first cut is the deepest, baby, I know
    The first cut is the deepest
    But when it comes to being lucky, he’s cursed
    When it comes to lovin’ me, he’s worse
    I still want you by my side
    Just to help me dry the I would have given you all of my heart
    But there’s someone who’s torn it apart
    And he’s taking just all that I had
    But if you want, I’ll try to love again
    Baby, I’ll try to love again, but I know
    The first cut is the deepest, baby, I know
    The first cut is the deepest
    But when it comes to being lucky, he’s cursed
    When it comes to lovin’ me, he’s worse
    I still want you by my side
    Just to help me dry the tears that I’ve cried
    And I’m sure gonna give you a try
    If you want, I’ll try to love again, try
    Baby, I’ll try to love again, but I know, oh
    The first cut is the deepest, baby, I know
    The first cut is the deepest
    But when it comes to being lucky, he’s cursed
    When it comes to lovin’ me, he’s worse
    I still want you by my side
    Just to help me dry the tears that… you a try
    If you want, I’ll try to love again, try
    Baby, I’ll try to love again, but I know, oh
    The first cut is the deepest, baby, I know
    The first cut is the deepest
    But when it comes to being lucky, he’s cursed
    When it comes to lovin’ me, he’s worse

  2. Aww, I love that. We recently met the neatest Irish priest, Father O’Neil at St. John The Baptist Cathedral in Savannah. He was actually the reason I wanted to visit and I love old gothic churches. His irish brogue combining with an almost Cajun sounding cadence is so cool. Father O’Neil’s voice can be heard on the video on the Cathedral website. I love REM too. Think I was in grade school then. For some reason, I remembered the REM song Drive when I read this entry of yours. Life certainly is random…at its best. Not everything has to make sense. Glad to see you’re keeping on going on..Remember to Be Here Now too. Songs can really pull us back…but it’s important to feel all that too. You’ll figure out what’s best for you in your own time and hopefully with some continued healthy doses of randomness…Hang in there….The universe isn’t done with you yet…

  3. Dear Mark – all of us do things, make choices and decisions in our life that we live to regret and that is what makes us human. What I have learned from my own experience is that we must learn how to forgive ourselves or the darkness will overcome us….
    When I look back at the one thing that causes me the most guilt and sadness and the darkness closes in, I have a process I go through and questions I ask myself:
    at that time, did you do it willfully to cause harm to anyone else?
    –No
    where you at an emotionally vulnerable time that helped cause your action?
    –Yes
    have you ever and would you ever do it again?
    –Absolutely not
    And then I put on my pity party song list that has “Everybody Hurts” at the of the list and allow myself to cry my heart out.

    A few questions for you as you learn to forgive yourself:
    Did you physically beat your wife?
    Did you emotionally abuse her?
    Did you rape her?
    Did you financially support her and provide her with a safe environment to live in?
    Look yourself in the mirror in the morning and answer the questions above. I hope you will see a man who was a good husband, who was fallible and human, who unfortunately had a wife that was mentally ill.

    I can honestly say that I do understand their pain (of those that commit suicide) and I think you do more than you may even realize (I just read all of your blog posts)….
    I sincerely hope your book gets published soon, so you focus on forgiving yourself and finding more light than darkness on the horizon.

    PS – I am posting this comment because I understand how the past couple of weeks have affected so many people around the world (including me) – it’s tough enough getting through some days, but even worse when you are facing endless days of isolation, no work, no beaches, etc.

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