Day 196: Be Careful What You Say

I wish I could write this under more positive circumstances.  I really do.  But it’s not possible.  One of my wife’s oldest and closest friends from high school passed away two nights ago, and all signs point to suicide.  She had battled mild depression for several years, dating back to a snowmobile accident a few years back.  I didn’t know her, but from the stories I’ve heard, a good portion of her battle centered on her self-confidence and her appearance after the accident.  Including a battle with weight.

On Friday night, she attended a major league baseball game with her husband.  At the game, a fan seated behind her became drunk and belligerent, making fun of people and saying nasty things.  One of those things was a comment about my wife’s friend’s weight.

Needless to say, her friend couldn’t let go of the comment…the ugly rambling of a drunk cut to her core.  On Sunday, word spread quickly that she had failed to wake up in the morning.  While the official cause of death is currently pending as accidental overdose of sleeping pills, everyone who knows her has read between the lines and knows what really happens.

She left behind a husband and three daughters, all teenagers.

She left behind many, many caring friends.

She left behind tears.

She left behind a world in which a casual, throwaway comment from an inebriated tongue can cause life-ending pain.

She left behind a story that hurts to hear.

I didn’t personally know her.  I’ve seen her pictures in photo albums and on Facebook.  I’ve heard her friends talk about her and her beautiful daughters.  I’ve known firsthand that she was a source of strength to a young, impressionable girl entering the halls of high school: my wife.  And I’ve now come to know that she battled these demons for years.

I can not eulogize someone I didn’t know.  There will be many people who can do that this week.  I can not speak of how her family is coping.  Others will be there there in their sorrow.  I don’t know much of her story beside what I have been told.  But I do know this: the tongue is a wicked, wicked instrument and we wield it far too freely.

I wish to teach my children many things as they grow.  First, to know their faith and trust in Him.  Second, to love their family above everyone else.  Third, to always strive for achievement and excellence.  And fourth, to control their temper and tongues.  ]

Maximus said it well in the movie Gladiator when speaking of our actions here on Earth:

“What we do in life echoes in eternity.”

I think you can take creative liberty, apply it to the quote, and come up with something equally as poignant:

“What we say in life echoes through our lifetime.”

Lord knows I’ve said things I regret.  Harsh words to an ex.  Ill phrases to my family.  Ugly statements to my friends.  Lies, half-truths, and the occasional aforementioned drunk spew.  I have no doubt I’ve caused sleepless nights, tear stained faces, and tortured conversations.  For these, I am deeply and truly sorry.

I have contemplated beginning an online crusade to find this woman who may have caused this young woman’s suicide.  With enough connections to the town where it happened, I’ve no doubt that someone, somewhere, could eventually connect me to her.  I don’t want to berate her, pseudo-lynch her, or anything of that nature.  I would just like to calmly let her know that her actions and words on a hot summer night at a baseball game, after consuming a few too many beers, left a husband without a wife and three young girls without a mother.  Despite all precautions this drunk may have taken, including having a designated driver, she nonetheless drove someone to death.

I don’t think I will pursue that crusade, however, because this isn’t my fight to fight.  I have a voice that can do more good by bringing her tragedy to your attention.  And if you remember anything from today, please remember this: A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit. (Proverbs 15:4).

It is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person.
Matthew 15:11