Does a new year mean a new life?

This is a little bit of a tough time for me. It is just past the Jewish High Holidays and, on September 23 it will be twenty-two years since my son Paul took his life. And that my husband Bob died in this past year doesn’t help. There was not a lot of praying I could do to help make things better. I’ll just have to go on living my life as it is.

I recently finished the book, The Midnight Library by Matt Haig, which brought to mind a lot memories about how I’ve lived my life and the choices I made along the way. In the book, the main character, Nora Seed, decides to end her young life, but she ends up at a half-way  point – the midnight library – where she gets a chance to experience other lives she could have lived instead. The goal was for her to pick one and therefore choose to keep living. It turns out she wakes up in a hospital and goes on living the life she had before her suicide attempt, but with a more positive outlook about what she can do personally and for work. Unfortunately my son Paul didn’t get a second chance. He chose a way to die that was a sure thing.

During my book club’s discussion of The Midnight Library the leader brought up the idea of how many young creative people die early. I learned that after Paul’s death. He was a very talented jazz pianist and composer who could have been a member of The 27 Club. Here is the poem I wrote about it:

The 27 Club

I’ve heard twenty-seven is an age
of compulsion and lack of judgment,
when people don’t yet have
a sense of their mortality,
or know that drugs and alcohol
could impact bodily functions.
Young sons especially are at risk.

You didn’t know
you would become
an honorary member
of a special club,
created for the many artists
who tell their fans goodbye
at that age.

Its membership includes
greats like Brian Jones
who founded the Rolling Stones,
Hendrix, Joplin, Morrison, Cobain,
and now Amy Winehouse.
You joined the group in 1999.

Could fame get in the way
of smart decisions?
Could creative juices only run
on harmful energy?
Or is it a time of developmental tumult
caused when Saturn returns to the angle
it occupied at the time of birth
oh, those twenty-seven years ago?

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