I wonder how many suicides the average person gets to experience in a lifetime? How many people have you talked down from the ledge? I’ve had to deal with four so far. There was the astrologer in Canada whose panicking wife called me in the middle of the night screaming that her husband was preparing to hang himself in their barn; and yes, when I arrived he was climbing the barn beams with a noose around his neck. It took me the better part of four hours to get him to come down. I sat on the barn floor in the hay while he sat up in the rafters and told me his life story. This was all at 2 o’clock in the morning. Then there was our temple heating and air-conditioning man who was in the process of slicing his wrists as I broke down his front door and called 911. This man now services my heating and AC systems for free. I made a lifetime friend with this one. Next, there was the young doctor, the son of a prominent cardiologist, who planned to hang himself in his apartment. How can I ever forget how lovingly he brought me his perfectly tied blue and white noose and put it into my hands as he broke down and cried in my arms for a quarter of an hour. I had no idea how close he was to suicide, and I’d been working with him for six monthsI Ah yes, then there was the psychiatrist who had filled his belly with pills, changed his mind and then called me for help him. This was also at 2 in the morning. Why must these people always do these things at such ungodly hours? I hate being dragged out in the middle of the night. I immediately called 911. That gentleman spent a week in a coma before I could see him. And last, but not least, I must have performed the funeral for at least a dozen poor souls who in various ways had actually killed themselves, some in the most creative ways for which they must be given the highest marks for uniqueness and ingenuity. These were the successful suicides.
Ah, the things I have done in my life! And this is not to mention all the normal tragedies, the broken bodies I have seen taken off life support or the seemingly unlimited number of bodies I have bathed before a funeral, or the children I have buried or cremated. There is no end to misery that a priest sees. I wonder how much psychological damage has occurred in the course of my career so far?