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My beloved grandson took his own life the Sunday before Thanksgiving, right after my revered son-in-law had a heart valve operation in which his heart was taken out of his body to make repairs. Reeling under this double hit, I was hit again when my grandson’s gay companion last week took his life also.

My grandson and his companion were givers in so many ways. They both trained and worked against the forest fires in the West in summers past and were cited for taking risks to save the lives of others.

So much of their lives was dedicated to outreach to those in some kind of emergency or distress, but they could not cope with the stresses in their own lives.

My own life has been turned upside down in just a little over one week, but I am seeking consolation from the goodness that I have seen in them and from the gentle concern of friends.

I reach for reassurance and find much in the memory of a bit of Shakespeare in his “Merchant of Venice.”

The quality of Mercy is not strained, it droppeth from heaven as a gentle rain. It is twice blessed — by those who give it and those who receive it.

This reassures me while I cope with my numbness and wait for the energy to look up the real citation.

I am trying hard to find something to do with my life in this time of my greatest travail. I look to the troubled state of our nation and hope that I may in some way, someday soon, be able to make just a little healing contribution to peace and goodwill.

It is indeed a cold gray world for me right now, but I will not surrender to despair. I thank all those who have sent me words of sympathy, and I promise to one day soon try again for some message that will have some meaning for you and for me — or at least confirm that we are fellow travelers who hope that there are better things out there ahead of us.

TOBY HIGHTOWER is a retired educator and former Hopkinsville High School teacher. His email address is Write to him at 222 S. 25th St., Apartment 434, Terre Haute, IN. 47803.

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