More than ten years ago, I lost a friend, a talented organist. He and I worked together on an art class trying to memorize slides of art and matching them with the painter. I thought it was kind of fun, but Ken did not. He was in his last year, getting ready for his senior recital, and I was an English major, trying to become a teacher, after having had three children.
He used to tease me when I would tell him I was studying sitting on the bottom bunk bed in my daughters’ room. “What’s the matter with you?” he would say. “Why are you going back to school now?”
I would always answer with one word.”Because.”
After we both graduated, we lost touch, but through the complicated grapevine that is our lives, I heard about an organist position, and I don’t remember how, but I told Ken about it.
He got the job.
He was doing very well, I heard, and I was very happy for him, not something I’m just saying, considering the end of the story, but really happy. I could play the piano a little, but an organ, too much coordination for me!
Some years later, I can’t say when, I learned he had gone out into the woods somewhere and shot himself. The shock that hit me was indescribable. Words fail me, but I felt his death like a punch to my chest, and it took me a long time to be about to speak about him.
His funeral was held in the church in which he played. All seats were taken, and more people were outside, waiting.
But these people were too late. Ken was gone. Yet I hope he was watching from somewhere anyway. I know he got a better gig in his next life.
And then, the questions started? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why?
I found out why but will not repeat it here. It was a very personal life obstruction that Ken could not live with.
My point? There is often no reason for us, and we who are left are not entitled to find out. What we do have is the person’s legacy. What he left behind. That’s what matters. Whatever caused Ken to leave this earth is his business. And no, I don’t believe he went to hell because depression is hell itself. You may not believe this, but ask someone who is suffering from a mental illness like depression.
Ken’s time on earth was spent playing the organ like no other. He was a master, and for his own reason, his time was finite.