Tony Shalhoub was a recent guest. I have never heard of him but his story was intense. His father was born in Mt. Lebanon and was left an orphan from World War I. The grandfather was killed in action in Armenia and the grandmother shortly afterwards. In addition to the destruction and death of war, Mt. Lebanon was also stricken with a locust plague which wiped out a harvest. Tony’s aunt, still a teenager, had to look after the other children. Life was horrifically hard and in a letter to relatives in the USA, she wrote (paraphrased),
“I wish to die. And if you love me, you will pray for me to die too.”
A TV show I really enjoy is Finding Your Roots hosted by Henry Louis Gates Jr. It is one of those shows that researches the family trees of celebrity guests. I enjoy it even when I have no idea who the guests are! I love hearing their reactions to what they learn. And it is amazing to see their faces when they unroll the chart of their family tree at the end. Personally, I have no interest whatsoever in my family history but I enjoy watching other people discover theirs.
It made me think of how I feel every morning when I wake up — that I wish my life would end. And I know it is ridiculous because my life finds me safe and comfortable right now. This is not to say that I think of suicide — wishing for your life to be over is NOT the same thing as ending your life yourself. And it is a good thing Tony’s aunt never took matters into her own hands because, somehow, she and the younger children made it all the way across Europe to France from where they sailed to America and joined relatives in Wisconsin where they went on to lead happy lives.
Sometimes — not always — but sometimes —even the most desperate of situations can turn itself. I guess the challenge is hanging in there in case your situation’s number comes up. But I can fully understand why that is hard to do.