Those three little words, unfit for duty, destroyed whatever confidence I was left with given all that transpired. The house I bought for my family was repossessed. Everything seemed to fall apart at once.
I felt like Job in the Old Testament. My marriage was destroyed, my career lost, and to top it off, I had 90 seizures in seven months. Plus, I gained over 100 pounds in the same timeframe.
“Where’s my pile of ashes and sackcloth?”
Somewhere along my path in darkness, I came upon a spot where I gave up. The spontaneity I had lived my life with was gone. My humor changed. Somehow, I failed to notice the color of the leaves, the smell of fresh cut grass, the world had gone gray.
I would often quote Fiddler’s Green. It was something we said every Friday at the close of business.
Halfway down the trail to hell,
In a shady meadow green,
Are all the souls of dead troopers camped,
Near a good ole time canteen,
And this eternal resting place is known as Fiddlers Green.
Though some go curving down the trail,
To seek a warmer scene,
No trooper ever’ gets to hell,
Ere he empties his canteen,
And so rides back to drink again with friends at Fiddlers Green.
So, when man and horse goes down,
Beneath a saber keen,
Or in a roaring charge of fierce melee,
You stop a bullet clean,
And the hostiles come to take your scalp,
Just empty your canteen,
And put your pistol to your head and go to Fiddlers Green.
For some reason the ending made sense to me. I had often considered suicide to be a coward’s way out of bad situations. Yet, every time I considered it as an option, I found more reasons to not go through with it. My family was almost twenty hours away in Mississippi, and I felt alone. Dark thoughts clouded my mind. I struggled to stay afloat, financially, but most importantly, in my mental health.
To combat the loneliness I felt, I went to McDonald’s every morning and had breakfast with a group of veterans. On most days it was enough to keep me on an even keel. The days it wasn’t enough, I had friends at the university that provided the balance I needed.
Still, the darkness persisted. I tried relationships, but they quickly lost their luster. The people I was involved with were great folks. It wasn’t their fault things didn’t work out. I’ve often heard that love is a matter of timing, if that’s the case, I have the worst timing in the history of ever.
Alone in the dark, I searched for hope. I found none. There was no light nowhere to be found.
I thought I had hit rock bottom, but I had no idea how wrong I was.