Life’s Roller Coaster

It’s been over a month since my last post and I don’t remember most of it. At last month’s STANYS conference, I presented on two topics, one one the physics and biology of light and the other was a MESSENGER workshop in which I presented on NASA and it’s MESSENGER mission. I also won the STANYS Excellence in Teaching(high school) Award. In addition, I won an election where i became STANYS Physics Director at Large. I was having an amazing weekend, probably riding a career high when out of the blue I found out that my brother was dead. It was not just a normal death either (if any death can be considered “normal”), My brother had committed suicide.  Never had I fallen from such a height in so short a time.  Life’s roller coaster can be cruel at times.

I wish i could say I did not think it was coming. I cannot. My brother had been estranged from me and my family for years. My siblings and I did not have a calm or easy childhood and we all have the mental and emotional scars to prove it. We have all come up with our own ways of dealing(or not dealing) with our life. At one point of my life, I even considered ending my troubles in such a way. I was not willing to pass my scars to others, so I found a different way to solve my problem. I cannot say that I know what was going through my brother’s mind when he ended his life, but I can say that he hid his real thoughts and emotions from everyone around him till it took a horrible toll on him.

I plan on dedicating the next year or so to helping my students understand suicide. I have already told them all, but have not had the strength yet to talk about it in depth – maybe after the holidays are over. But my students have been wonderful to me about this. They have sent me emails, given me cards and told me about their own personal experiences about suicide. You would not believe how many people have been touched by their own version of this type of tragedy. Maybe if I can help just one person understand that help is out there, then my brother may not have died in vain.  Understanding that every drop in a roller coaster eventually leads to a rise can sometimes help you see past the fear.  Sometimes looking past a problem helps in dealing with it.

Rest in Peace, Paul.


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