Please, Men. Please.

Hey, fellas, it’s me. How about we sit for a little while and have a talk?

Ladies, you’re welcome to listen in, but this is really for the guys.

When I saw the headline yesterday about the death of Stephen “tWitch” Boss at the age of 40, I was shocked. I was floored. I just couldn’t believe it.

Then, when I read that it was a death by suicide, my heart just broke.

Here was another guy who appeared to have it all: a great wife and family, a successful career, the love and respect of his peers and countless fans.

And nobody knew about the battle he was secretly fighting. Until, ultimately, he lost.

His wife, Allison Holker Boss, with whom Stephen had just days ago celebrated their ninth wedding anniversary, issued a statement which said, in part, “Stephen lit up every room he stepped into. He valued family, friends and community above all else and leading with love and light was everything to him. He was the backbone of our family, the best husband and father, and an inspiration to his fans.”

His former boss, talk show host Ellen DeGeneres, said about him, “tWitch was pure love and light. He was my family, and I loved him with all my heart.”

The online tributes to “tWitch” have been flooding in from various people in the entertainment industry, expressing complete shock and sadness over the loss of someone so universally loved.

Many of these tributes have included an urging to reach out to people in your life, because you never know what someone is going through.

So, this is me reaching out to all you guys out there.

I know men are expected to be strong, tough, self-sufficient. We can handle anything. We don’t need anyone’s help. Whatever is bothering us, we can deal with it.

Admitting we can’t causes us shame. It means we’re weak, inadequate, that we’re not real men.

So we just kill ourselves, instead. More than 38,000 of us in the USA just last year.

You see that, guys? Thirty…eight…thousand.

I lost an uncle to suicide, in August, 1985.

I myself have thought about it more than once. Even came close to doing it one afternoon. Fortunately, I didn’t go through with it.

Instead, I called a counselor I was seeing at the time, and told him I needed to come talk to him right away. And he said, okay.

So, I’m familiar with how it feels, in that moment of desperation, when you’re certain there is no other solution. That utter hopelessness that almost crushes you under its weight. That convinces you that everyone would just be better off without you around.

I’ve been there, gentlemen. And in that moment, I reached out for help.

So please, please, listen to me, men:

If you find yourself at this point in your life, if you’re battling a demon (or demons) that only you know about, if you’re seriously thinking about suicide…

I beg of you, tell someone!

Whatever you’re going through, I promise you, you don’t have to do it alone.

Asking for help does not mean you’re weak. It does not make you less of a man. If anything, it makes you more of one.

There are plenty of veterans who have asked for help. There are plenty of athletes who have asked for it. You gonna tell me any of them are weak, that they’re not really men?

This, knights in shining armor, is just too big and mean a dragon to try and slay by yourself. Trust me.

Listen, I know it’s out there, the public stigma surrounding suicide. Nobody wants to talk about it; everyone just wants to ignore it.

Well, guess what, y’all: It’s widely considered a public health crisis. Worldwide. We ignore it at our peril.

Help is available, guys. In the US, call 988, or go to https://988lifeline.org/ right now.

Live outside the US? Look here for additional resources from other countries. ‘Cause it ain’t just American men who need help, you know?

Get help, gentlemen. I guarantee you, all Stephen Boss’ family wants for Christmas is to have him back with them. Give your family the gift of yourself.

Alive.

(And please, everyone, be kind to each other. You really don’t know what someone else is going through.)

A Glaring Omission

How in the world did I miss this?

I was looking back at the posts I wrote about my favorite Christmas songs, and it suddenly occurred to me:

Two songs from the best Christmas television special ever were not included.

SMF! (Smacking My Forehead)

A Charlie Brown Christmas, first broadcast on CBS in December, 1965, became an instant classic, due in no small part to the inspired choice of a soundtrack courtesy of the Vince Guaraldi Trio. Whoever decided jazz was the appropriate background music for a kid’s Christmas show was a visionary.

And two songs from that show stand out, in particular:

Christmas Time is Here, the opening number, is a soft and gentle remembrance of some of the things that make the season so beloved, sung by a chorus of children. It’s beautiful in its simplicity; the words and music stay with you, and bring a smile to your face every time. It warms you like a big, cozy blanket.

“Oh, that we could always see such spirit through the year.” Couldn’t agree more.

Then, there’s Linus and Lucy, the peppy instrumental that gets all the kids at the Christmas pageant up and dancing, with Schroeder pounding his piano with abandon, Pig-Pen keeping time on the acoustic bass, and Snoopy alternately playing and dancing joyfully with his guitar.

Come on: tell me this isn’t what you think of anytime you hear this tune.

These songs definitely belong on my list of Christmas favorites; I can’t believe I omitted them!

Oh well, here they are. Enjoy.

And enjoy the holidays, as well.

An Angel Went Back to Heaven

Oh, my sweet, sweet Lizzy…

For over fourteen years, you and your sister, Izzy, made our home a happy one. You filled it with love and laughter. Your sweetness warmed our hearts.

And now you’re gone, our hearts are broken, and our grief is almost unbearable.

You were so cute the day we brought you home from the shelter.

And you remained cute, and sweet, all your life. Mom and I told you so, several times a day. We had no children, so you and Izzy were our babies, and we loved you so very, very much. You were Mama’s girl; you gravitated toward her as Izzy did toward me, and she found you absolutely irresistible, as did I. We spoiled you every chance we got!

And I’m glad now we had those chances. I just wish we could have more.

We will miss you every day, Lizzy. Right now, it hurts so much. But you left us so many happy memories, sweet girl, and we will cherish them always.

And we’ll take good care of your sister for you. I promise.

Goodbye, sweet angel. You’ll live forever in our hearts. 🐈‍⬛❤❤❤❤

I Thought I’d Have More Time

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom.

You’ve been gone since January, 1976, when I was sixteen and a half years old. The cruel hand of death snatched you away long before any of us were ready. (Not that we ever are.)

I had only a few Mother’s Days with you. It’s been so long ago now, I barely remember them.

I barely remember you. I look at pictures of you now, and you’re almost a stranger to me.

Almost.

What I do remember, though, is a sweet, compassionate, fun-loving, beautiful-in-every-way person who loved life, family and friends. Who had a great sense of humor and loved to laugh.

Someone who loved playing with her grandkids, and card games with her friends. (Does anybody play Rook anymore?) Who enjoyed a good game of Mad Libs on long car trips. Who loved going to Dallas Cowboys and Texas Rangers games.

Someone who took care of her little boy whenever he was sick, which was pretty often early on. Lucky for me, you were a nurse.

Someone who catered to my finicky appetite when I was little. If only you could see what I like to eat now.

Someone who saw something in me that inspired you to sign me up for piano lessons, the idea of which initially repelled me, but that I eventually came to appreciate.

Someone who laughed when I laughed, held me when I cried, and disciplined me when necessary. (Although, between you and me, probably not enough. But I wasn’t ever gonna say that. 😉)

You never let me forget you loved me. If only I had worked up the nerve to say, “I love you” to you. Just once.

I thought I’d have more time, you know. I guess we always think that. You just take it for granted the people you love are always going to be here.

I wish we could have had a grownup-to-grownup conversation. I think you would have been fun to talk to on that level.

I wish you could have been here long enough to meet the wonderful woman I married. I think you would have approved.

I wish a lot of things with you that, unfortunately, will never be. But, I guess that’s life. I just know, I’m glad I had you as long as I did. It was a wonderful, if terribly brief, life with you.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom. Thank you for being so good to me in the time we had together. Thank you for all your love and care and support. You were the best mom I could have wished for.

I never said it, and I’m sorry for that, but I always felt it: I love you. ❤❤❤❤