by Rod Smith

Writers search within themselves for opening lines. Like athletes may recall a winning goal or an impossible rugby try, we admire a good one. My all-time favorite is Frederick Buechner’s opener of his memoir “Telling Secrets.” It lulls. It seduces. Then, all in one sentence, it delivers an unforgettable punch. I’d love to know how long it took him to perfect.

Buechner’s opener recalls that early one morning his father popped into the bedroom preteen-Frederick shared with his brother – the sentence suggests something habitual or repetitive is occurring – and then made his way to the garage, where within minutes, his father died at his own hand from exhaust fumes.

The sad event, the dad, the loss was never explained or referred to or talked about. Not ever.

The opener hit me hard as intended. Bullseye. The words on the page parraleled what suicide does to survivors. It takes us by complete surprise and it is then often locked away within forever, layered in shame, buried in secrecy, hidden like a lost or hidden grave.

Please, get the help you need, before you make a permanent choice over what are most surely powerful and driving destructive emotions. Help is available. There are armies of people waiting to help you.

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