White Dog and the rest of the White Dog Army joined Steve and I as he started the movie. What Dreams May Come is one of my favorite movies and it seemed a fitting tribute to its star who was in the headlines for his sudden, shocking death. I sobbed during parts of the film and prayed that there is more Universal compassion for those driven to suicide than the film portrayed. At least, I hope with all of my heart there is some one in every life willing to march into Hell to save their soul.
We all cheered at the end of the movie and embraced the hopefulness. "Why is it," White Dog asked, "that humans get so lost that they believe the world better off without them?" The others looked at me, waiting for understanding.
"I suppose the answer to that is as individual as the person," I told her. "But depression is a very real catastrophic disease. It is as insidious and evil as cancer. You don't just snap out of it or think a happy thought to get well. It is awful and eats away at your thoughts and your heart and your soul until there is only emptiness. It is the most fearful and despairing place to be."
"Why doesn't anyone help them," Bella asked, her voice trembling. I held her in my arms. "In our society we are still afraid of any mental illness so we ignore it, or are embarrassed and don't talk about it. Think about how people react to Michael. So we hide when we don't feel whole and people don't generally press because they are not sure what to say. There are thousands of people who suffer from depression severe enough that they have contemplated suicide. Some have even attempted to kill themselves. But mostly it is not a subject we talk about.
"I know you White Dogs already know the validity of studies that show owning a dog or a pet helps pull people back from the edge. Your unconditional nonjudgmental and complete love often is a literally a lifesaver. Pets provide love and a purpose, which turn out to be VERY powerful weapons in the fight against depression.
"But I believe we have to do more. Humans have lost their connections to each other. As much as we network and electronically stretch across the world we feel alone. We physically do not touch each other enough. We don't say I care...I understand...I love you. People accept puppy kisses and joyful jumping but go rigid at the thought of a human stranger giving them a hug. And we are less for holding others at bay. I am not saying these simple acts cure depression but I DO believe a culture that is open and nurturing and positive provides a safety net for those in need.
"I will get off of my soapbox now for the WDA well knows my belief that every person CAN make a difference to those around them. I just wish every creature could feel, as I do, that they lived a life of wonder and miracles and that nothing was insurmountable. I guess I am really wishing that all creatures had a White Dog Army and a Steve that made them feel safe, meaningful and loved."