Categories
Observations

Do we have Empathy with Suicide?

A while back I mentioned “The Box”, a cardboard filing box full of old writings, poetry and creative work I had worked on particularly when I was involved in youth work at our local church. During that time I had a job working as car salesman at a local Toyota car yard and from a tragic situation I wrote the poem on this page called “My Friend of Eight Months”. Attached to the car sales was a mechanical workshop, a parts division and a Shell petrol station. While everyone worked different hours and the business embodied a wide range of personalities including mine, the focal point was a social room where people would gather for drinks and a game of pool after work.

It was here that I met a young man who started work at the petrol station. He was a great guy, always encouraging and seemed to constantly have a smile on his face and a spring in his step. Sadly it was this same young man who didn’t seem to have a care in the world who didn’t turn up for work one Saturday morning. He had committed suicide the night before after his shift. I don’t know what was the tipping point. I have no idea whether his burden was one he had carried for so long that he had found a way to make it look like he had it sorted out. Maybe something hit him that night or week that he felt unprepared to deal with.

Suicide is the hardest level of empathy. I know he deserves my understanding. He had my respect as a friend and a colleague. Sadly now there is no way to empart the empathy or listening ear that might have heard a clue or connected two dots to help him avoid this fate. We wish that there had been a way to connect him to counselling that may have seen him through the mire he was in. It may have come to pass, but for him counsel was either unavailable or in a place he could connect. I’ve tried now to listen better and be a better friend to others. I know I still get busy but I grew in a small way to think that a smile doesn’t always reveal a heart. As I dealt with his death I wrote this poem a little while after his funeral.

If you have known or have walked alongside someone who has committed suicide I’d love your thoughts in the comments below the post. Many thanks for being willing to share.

My Friend of Eight Months

Thinking back is to late and worthless
Except to remember the good
His pleasure of friendship
The wide smile of greeting
His zeal to assist me
The dry sense of humour

I wonder what life was like for him
All that can be done is learn
Urgency meant rush, rush, rush
His music turned to peak
Drive and get around alot
His style was loud to impress

Wish we could turn the clock back one week
But how would we know?
His manner was jovial then
Was he different to you and I?
His personal life quite unknown
Remorse and sorrow mix bitter sweet

Written: 16/3/1991
Author: Andrew Pitchford

Categories
Observations

Time and Slumber

Time and Slumber

Time and Slumber

Time is measured by the once
but pleasure by the pound
We forsake the hour's warning tide
Sit back with men feeling warm inside

Did Christ enjoy social expense
Or sit in critique at a neighbour's fence 
His time was ours he spent it well
Used healing hands to salvation tell

Why do you slumber instead of march
Is this gratitude, limbs stiff as starch
Accept what yours, forgiveness free of charge
Heaven's transport flown, not a deathly barge

Author: Andrew Pitchford

Categories
Observations

Written for the One I Love

The One I Love

Written for the One I Love

When darkness fades
And glory shines you open your eyes and hope to find

A starling on your pillow
A valentine in your arms who nestles cheek to breast

You alight from bed to floor
Going to prepare a succulent feast as you tiptoe out the door

Content, refreshed and showered
From the house you leave with love you cleave to crack the open sky

Find a spot, a secluded one
Walk hand in hand alond silk golden sands and learn to dream

Cleanse your soles together
On salty shores reveal your souls to heavens soouthing balm

Talk becomes priceless time
When sipped between friends as a sweet chilled wine

Trust and open "Pandora's Box"
This woven basket of picnic pieces satisfies the prevalent appetite

Singing waters beckon bathers
to soak embracing all of natures reviving good cheer

Stroke the passioned stallion's mane
You fire his heart a firebox of embers, nostrils race with steam

Should one be one alone
No let them come intertwined as love's evergrowing vine

All money spent is lost
when trying to win your love my motives must be clear

The precious memories held
Will note be bought to corrode in life and bring us fear

Today we built a friendship
Intimate in detail, purest of materials, loved in conception and still real!

Author: Andrew Pitchford

Written for Cheryl for Valentines Day 1991. We won a bottle of wine when this was submitted to the local paper, the Te Awamutu Courier when they ran a Valentine Day's competition.

 

Categories
Observations

Reminders of You

Back in 1983-1987 I was profoundly blessed to be in a youth group run by Gavin and Liz Hockly. It was through this Te Awamutu Bible Chapel youth group called “Word of Life” that I learned lots, was challenged to ‘grow-up’ and also had the blessing of being able to try the gifts God has given me. Big apology to everyone I used as guinea pigs back then.

Recently I mentioned ‘The Box’, a records box of memories that had been missing for 10 years. A lot of the items were notes, poetry and newsletters I had kept from my youth group days. It was a habit that I would carry into the 90s as I ventured out into the world. I wouldn’t quite call it journaling because it didn’t have the consistency that I see in those who ‘know how to journal’. But it is a record of things I’m happy to remember.

Today I started at the top and opened up this box of memories. One of the first things I found were the hand written notes from a bible study evening I was leading. I loved using audio visual. It wasn’t unusual for me to want to ‘play a song’ or show a video (VHS people!) to get a point across.

On this night I had hand written the lyrics to a song ‘Reminders of You’ by Geoff Moore and the Distance from the 1992 CD “A Friend Like U”. Part way through I had made a note to pause the song and ask people to think on what reminds them of the Lord.

You know every day I drive home from work I have the privilege of taking an off-ramp that turns back on itself towards the west. I see the most dramatic sunsets and they always bring me back to God the creator who spoke the world into existence. I look on every beautiful burnt orange or red sunset blasting through the unique branches of our Australian gum trees and am reminded that the sunset I saw yesterday was taken down last night and God painted a new one today. I am grateful for His love and care, His creativity and the freshness I see that remind me that like it says in Lamentations 3, His ‘mercy’ is also new every morning.

The song is written by Jeff Silvey and Billy Simon.

Reminders of You

(Verse 1)
A cross on a chain
Or a thunder cloud rolling
A Bible in a hotel room
Or lights on an evergreen

Tombstones on the hillside
Or a little child laughing
Just to name a few
Reminders of you

(Chorus)
You abide in me, my hope my Lord
And I will not forget your name
Please keep sending me reminders of You

(Verse 2)
A table set for twelve
Or a northern star shining
A lazy Sunday afternoon
Or a cool mountain stream

A piece of bread with a red wine
A December snow falling
Just to name a few reminders of You

Categories
Observations

The Box – Hand written memories!

Ever lost something so special but couldn’t even remember how it went missing. What if it contained your memories? What would you pay to get your hands on the memories of the past.

My memory is a specialised filing system, and so is my wife’s. For me, numbers, websites, passwords, and things of this nature come easily. But ask me what year we went to the ‘that’ beach for a holiday and I’m stuffed. My wife can’t remember the password to her email account but if you ask who gave us that set of glasses for our wedding or what she made for dinner at the youth group camp, she will be able to tell you the name, the dish and the recipe. She is truly amazing!

A few months back I received news that a ‘box’ of personal items had been found amongst the records at Rhema Broadcasting Group which is the New Zealand ‘sister organisation’ to who I now work for, UCB Australia. Somehow in my stint in Auckland as Admin and Personnel Manager this box of memoirs had become buried and lost.

10 years later it was in my hot little hands. Filled with photos of acting days, newspaper clipping reviews of my time treading the boards and a ton of youth group memories I began walking back down a memory lane or two.

While the memories go back through good and bad years they tell a story. Its a story of growth and living, of thought and thanks and a few chaotic tall tales along the way. Over the next while I want to move this box of thought from handwritten and type written words into the digital age and place them here on my blog.

Watch for photos, newspaper clippings and poetry coming out my ears. Some good, some really bad and some about real moments in Pitchford History. I’m creating a new category for ‘The Box’ to keep track of these pieces.

Oh and BTW, there were two All Black posters lost in that move from Auckland to Brisbane back in 1998. So if you have my large black and white collectors posters of Sean Fitzpatrick or Christian Cullen please get in touch to return them. No questions asked of course!