Things change; people change. Perhaps the two are related?

Last night I found out as I was coming up out of sleep, out of a dream of Mexico and a girl there, that my mother's brother Doug (my uncle) had died earlier in the day. I haven't heard all the facts yet but I'm told he committed suicide by overdosing on prescription sleeping pills. He lived in rural California with his sister, ex-wife, and two children. He'd attempted suicide once before, a few years ago, by repeatedly shooting himself in the stomach with a nail gun, though he panicked and called emergency services immediately afterward. Doug had long been considered the black sheep, as it were, of my mom's side of the family, mostly due to his various drug addictions, stints in jail, inability to hold down a job, and moves in and out of various trailer parks with his wife and kids, until his wife divorced him in 1998.

Doug's death, while tragic, wasn't really a surprise to anybody that knew him. I can readily understand his position and his chosen method of death, as I've battled through my adult life with suicidal ideation and addiction to tranquilisers. Despite this, I know that suicide isn't necessarily the correct answer. Nobody is beyond help, although my deepest estimation leads me to believe that you are the only person capable of helping yourself. Others can chip in with various things, but ultimately your own fate is in your own hands. It is unfortunate that so few people realise this before doing something regrettable, like trying to kill yourself, or worse, succeeding in doing so.

I hadn't seen Doug since the last time I was in California, in 1997. Before then I hadn't seen him since the mid-80s, and in the interim he'd become a fairly stereotypical trailer park redneck. I didn't understand until then why the rest of my family seemed to look down on him, despite what I'd heard about his less savoury habits. Looking back, it seems to me that he'd already given up on everything by then and was just going through the motions of life, not really trying to cause anybody any problems but apathetic if he managed to do so. Like most of the rest of his side of the family, mental illness is pretty bountiful, and when he and his wife had their two sons, he dutifully passed on the prepensity for it to them. I can only imagine how fucked up they're ultimately going to turn out after all their lives up until yesterday with him, and then the aftermath of his departure. Though it's really not a concern of mine, I can't help but wonder where the minds of people like him end up after death. I'm not talking about religion of any kind, or any of its concepts... it's just that I'm convinced that energy never dies, it merely changes form. Since consciousness is energy, into what form does it change when it's no longer burdened by the harshness of physical space? I'm not sure I want to know, but I can't help but be curious.

I've a strong interest in metaphysics, and this year so far has given me a lot to think about on the subject. In January, another of my mother's brothers, Jerry, had a massive heart attack and died. In March, my own father had a massive heart attack and needed quadruple bypass surgery. He survived, but he spent the first three days after his heart attack in a coma. When he woke up, he couldn't remember anything beyond the morning on the day of his heart attack. When I went to see him in the hospital, I asked him what he saw or felt "in there," but no memories surfaced. I've had a near-death experience of my own, but I'm confident that the specifics are different for everyone, based on what they've learned in life and what preconceived notions (if any) about non-physical life after physical death are held by the dying person. Different perspectives are always helpful, though, to compare to one's own experiences.

It's been a rough year so far, not just for me and my relatives, but for most people, judging by recent daylogs. I guess every year was a rough one for Doug, so he opted out of further rough years in the way that seemed simplest to him. Whatever form of energy you've catapulted yourself into, Doug, I wish you safe journeys, and hopefully greater understanding.