The man is standing at the door to the chapel greeting people as they wander in. He has already held bishopric and ward council and has been at the church since 6:45 am.
Today, his smiles are weak, and his gaze is far off. It has been eighteen months since his father’s death. Five days before his father’s death, he met Phyllis Titlow over the body of her husband at Taunton Hospital. Five months before that, he did the same for Robin Sullivan and her husband. Then there was the miscarriage. Patrick Donohoe was three weeks before that. And now, this past week, his wife and daughters had been in the accident.
The specter was back, sitting at the foot of the bed at night, and he can feel it walking with him at church. He glances at his phone—9:24. One more minute and he will take his place on the stand.
The door opens and President XXX stalks in. He extends his right hand to the man while putting his left arm around his shoulders.
“Bishop, how are you?”
He is about to give a standard answer, but pauses while looking at President XXX. “I’ve been better.”
“Let’s meet after the block?”
After church, they meet in the man’s office and after some chit chat, the man says, “I don’t know what’s wrong exactly. I just feel like death is coming for everyone I love and things are just random and there’s nothing I can do about it.”
“Do you feel like this a lot?”
“Lately? Yeah. I’m sure I have depression. I just don’t think there’s much more to do about it.”“What do you mean?”
“I try to get enough sleep. I exercise all the fine. I try to watch what I eat. Most of the studies on antidepressants say they work about as well as exercise. So I’ve stayed away from them.”
“Do you see anyone?”
“Like a therapist? No.”
“You know, early in my marriage I went through a period of being really down. My wife finally had enough and got me to go to a doctor. It took a few months, but we finally found a medicine that worked for me. Wasn’t even a very big dose but it kind of set me right. Sometimes I’m able to get off it, and I go for a long time thinking I’ll never need it again. Then I have a bad spell and have to go back on for six months or so.”
“I think you’re trying to gut through it too much. You don’t have to bear it alone. There are things that help.”
“The man nods. Ok. Lauren thinks I should see someone. I just don’t really want to. But I guess I should.”
“I think a lot of the brethren have these struggles. I think a lot of the prophets in the scriptures had these struggles. It’s more common than we think and it’s part of life’s struggle.”
“Ok. I will call my doctor.”
“I have to tell you one final thing, Bishop.”
“I was going to Hingham today. That was the plan. I awoke and I knew I needed to be here. For you specifically, not for the ward.”