Post #500 Reflections on Lives Passed

August 12, 2016 at 3:38 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

I’ve been thinking about post number 500 for several weeks.  I wanted to make it memorable and relevant, and I wanted to make it funny and special.  But I decided to make it from the heart instead.

Yesterday was the second year since Robin Williams killed himself.  Since that moment, a lot has been said about depression, some if it by me.  I’ve become more active in social media in talking about depression and my own battles with the disease, and some of the lessons I’ve learned.

It’s not a disease you ever “get over” like a cold.  It’s not a disease you “learn to live with” like the loss of a digit or limb.  It’s a constant day-to-day struggle finding the strength to go forward rather than just stop.  I’ve struggled with depression since my teen years.  I’ve always referred to it in my head as The Dragon.  Each day is a new battle and most days I win.  Some days The Dragon wins.  If I had less of an optimistic personality, I might not be here.

I know several people who have lost that daily struggle.

In college, I had a dear funny friend named Donna Givens.  We had the same major so we had many of the same classes.  The moment we met, we knew we were going to be friends for life and we decided the friendship was more important than any other kind of relationship.  I regret that that “life” was so short.  We confided in each other about everything, I thought.  We would make each other laugh until we were sick.  Once, I had to leave class in the middle of a guest lecture over something funny she’d said.  I apologized to the professor and the speaker later, and when I told them the joke, they laughed uproariously, too.  Two days later, I had to leave an auditorium lecture because of a flashback laughing fit.  I got her back at the end of that semester during a final she was taking.  I’d already had the course with that professor so I was helping her study and we got onto a laughing fit involving a tennis ball in my apartment.  After we got back to studying, I slipped the tennis ball into her book bag which fell over during the test.  The tennis ball rolled out and she started laughing again.  She couldn’t control the laughter; the professor thought she’d lost her mind; she got an A for the course.  She showed up at my apartment after the test to yell at me, but when I opened the door, she started laughing, I started laughing, and we drank some wine.

About five years later, she stopped the laughter with a gun.  My name and phone number was at the top of the list of people to contact.  I learned many things from this experience.  I learned we never truly know what’s going on in someone else’s life no matter how close we believe we are.  I learned we can only help people just so much.  I learned that suicide doesn’t end their life; it ends everyone’s life.  Life after your friend commits suicide changes for you forever.

About a year or two afterwards, I was managing a computer retail store and one of the young kids working with me wanted to come over to talk.  It was late, but I said sure, and watched movies and talked until nearly 1 am.  When we went to where his car was parked, it had been towed.  We copied the number of the tow company, and I walked to the subway station with him.  He bitterly castigated the tow company, his parents, and his life.  Then he said, “I should just kill myself and get it over with.”

I spent the next two hours telling him about my own battles with depression, and the still recent wounds of losing my friend Donna G.  I explained the lessons I’d learned.  I talked him down from where he was at the moment and when we parted, exhaustion ripping us both apart, I felt like I’d accomplished something.  Not long after, he went back to school in Georgia and we lost contact.  I hope he’s still with us.

There’s no “do over” with suicide.

I wish everyone understood that.

Sorry, it’s a dark subject, so I’ll close with a recipe for brownies because, you know, chocolate.  It’s a simple recipe, one I’ve shared before, but since this is a post about a subject I’ve done before, it fits.

Heat your oven to 350.  Melt a half cup of butter over low heat until it stops bubbling.  Add a cup of sugar and remove from the heat.  Stir until the sugar is dissolved into the butter.  Add a teaspoon of vanilla and mix thoroughly.  Add two eggs and mix until fully incorporated.  There should be no egg visible.  Add a half cup of cocoa powder and stir carefully until there are no lumps.  Add a half cup of flour, a quarter teaspoon of salt, and a quarter teaspoon of baking powder.  Stir carefully until there are no lumps.  Add a half cup to a whole cup of chocolate chips.  Stir to combine.  Add nuts or coconut if you like.  Pour into an 8 x 8 square pan that’s been sprayed lightly with vegetable spray.  Bake at 350 for 30 minutes, no longer.  Remove from oven, cool, cut, and eat.





  1. I didn’t realize I dealt with Depression until about a year and a half ago. If you’re not paying attention it can sneak up on you. And it tends to come in a bundle package with Anxiety.
    It’s almost as much physical as it is mental.
    On a more positive note…I’m sure I’ve asked you this before…do you still make that Boiled Chocolate Cake ? And have you posted the recipe here before ? I know my sister would love it. In the kitchen she has magic hands and I’m sure she’d make it as perfect as you always did,

    • I’m not surprised you fight the dragon. You have the personality for it. I do have the cake recipe in the blog. It was one of my first. When you open the blog next time, look in the upper right area. There’s a search box. Just enter boiled chocolate cake and you’ll find it. Let me know if you have trouble. And yes I still make it regularly.

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