From Here, She Jumped
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From Here, She Jumped • Posted: Apr 30, 2018 11:52:40Comments WelcomeVote CoolPhotoblogsPurchase a PrintShare

People die in all kinds of crazy ways. Just a few blocks from here, there is a bar whose entrance is on the water’s edge. One winter’s night a few years back, a guy, quite inebriated, stepped outside for a breath of fresh air, maybe to grab a smoke. The walkway was covered in new ice from freezing rain. He slipped and fell in. No one saw him. No one knew where he’d gone. He just disappeared without a trace. They finally found his body a week or so later.

And, just another couple of blocks from here, also some years back, amidst the maze of underground streets that service the high-rises that hug this river, a homeless man huddled for the night inside a cardboard box. He poked his head out very early that morning when streets were still deserted and light was barely showing its face over Lake Michigan. Workers found him a few hours later, lying near his box, with an arrow in his chest. Yes, an arrow. A lark for some misguided big game hunter? A citizen with an aversion to homeless people wandering the streets and peeing in gutters? Who knows. The case was never solved.

Also, about that same time, just to the right, up twelve or so stories, in an office with a view over this same river, a young graphic designer phoned her father to say, “Dad, I’m not going to make it. There’s nothing I can do. I love you.” Smoke from a fire in the hallway outside her door was rapidly filling her studio as she crouched on the floor near her phone, the huge windows overlooking the river too thick and strong to break. Firefighters found her, fatally overcome by smoke, about forty-five minutes later. Her father was heartbroken, as were all her friends.

And, a century ago, just the other side of this bridge, a tour boat, the SS Eastland, loaded with enraptured newcomers to this fascinating city and factory workers with their families bound for a factory sponsored picnic, became unbalanced, as those on deck rushed to one side to view another passing boat. The Eastland suddenly capsized. 844 passengers and crew trapped below deck drown. That tragedy took more than a week to clean up.

Like I said, you can die in any number of crazy sad ways. But the saddest, I think, is to stare down at a beautiful romantic place, as this is, pregnant with possibilities, and decide for unknowable unfathomable reasons to jump into the icy cold waters below, never to be seen alive or heard from again. That, I think, is truly sad.

Statistics in the news recently suggest up to 20 psychologically distressed veterans take their own lives each day. Plus, a disturbing number of bullied and abused children do the same. And, per author Alisa Roth in her new book Insane, it has become common practice for guards in prisons, which hold most of our mentally ill these days, to carry a knife for the specific purpose of cutting down prisoners who have chosen to take their own lives, rather than continue their tortured ill-served existences.

Somehow, someway, we should be able to do better. Individually, we are not as inconsequential as the melting ice floating by in these waters. There is consequence, meaningful consequence to be had, if we would just drop the “hard sell” we so frequently find ourselves caught up in and, instead, turn to each other with compassionate sincerity and ask, “How are things with you these days?” Or maybe just, “You look stressed. How can I help?”

Monday, February 10th, 2014
27.6 mm 75 mm
1/160 sec
f 5.6