Monday, September 6, 2010

Men Don't Cry--They Die Instead

Manuel died day before yesterday. He was 39 years old. Stopped eating and started drinking a few months ago and didn't stop till his liver shut down. He was a decent man who could pick up rocks as big and heavy as a medium-sized safe, but he had a soft heart, and maybe no place to share it.

About a year and a half ago his relationship fell apart after twenty years. His step-son of twenty years wouldn't talk to him. His daughter was angry with him. He worked for me doing the gardening on two rental properties I own. I'd see him once a month when he came by to get paid. When I would ask him about how it was going, he would say, "It hurts, but I'll get through it." A few months ago his father died of cancer. He said that was really tough. He had worked with his dad since his dad had started the gardening business when Manuel was a kid.

Manuel told me that when he separated and moved to his new place, a young neighbor, a woman in her mid-twenties saw that he had been crying. "What's up with you? Men don't cry." He told her they did but they didn't show it, and walked away. I tried to get Manuel to come in to see me. I could have tried harder. Two months after his father's death, Manuel was dead.

There's a lot of pain out there--always has been. Do what you can to help. Of course, in the end we can only save ourselves, but we can make it easier for one another to get help, to find the right medication and people who can listen and support us and help us find our way back to life.

I wish that young woman had said something else, something that might have pushed Manuel to get some help rather than go deeper into the darkness inside. I wish I had reached out sooner and done more. I wish Manuel were still alive.

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