At 69, I realize I’m a member of the walking dead. I move among others, smiling and stringing together clever words, so no one knows I have become a zombie. I always thought that word described some awful ogre, a monster, a freak. Now I know it describes those of us who have no purpose. We take up space, voice opinions, complain about young people, and cringe at the thought of another presidential election. We’ve outlived our usefulness. We really are members of the living dead.

My conversion from a productive person to a gray lump didn’t happen over night. It started in the summer of 1993. Something happened to me then I haven’t been able to forget. I’m stuck in the wasteland, the garbage dump, I fell into 23 years ago. In the beginning, I tried to claw my way out. I almost made it, but then I slipped. Becoming a zombie put me in survival mode.

So for those of you who feel like checking out, forget about it. Suicide is always an option, but make it your last one. Hang in there and see how much torment you can take. You’ll surprise yourself. I certainly have. I never dreamed that after the public rape and pillage committed by lawyers and a judge in the Chippewa County Probate Court in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan I would survive, let alone thrive.

You don’t need drugs or booze or any other junk in your life to keep breathing. Just take one breath at a time. Make it a game. Talk to yourself from the moment you crawl out of bed. Say, “First I’ll get out of bed. Then I’ll go to the bathroom. If I’m too depressed to shower, I’ll just wash my face. I’ll get dressed. I’ll eat something. I’ll brush my teeth. I’ll go to work or school or I’ll just sit in my chair. No matter. The day will pass, and I will not die. Night will come, and I will sleep. Tomorrow will be better.”

If you talk to yourself every day and encourage your body to do as your mouth commands, you will begin to heal from whatever heartache life has thrust upon you. It will not be easy. It will take every ounce of energy you have, and I know you have none. I know that because we zombies do not function on energy but sheer will power.

Will yourself to live. Give yourself a chance to prove how strong you are. When you reach for the bottle of pills or the drugs or booze or whatever weapon you choose to end your life, stop. Wait one more day. When nothing changes, wait another day. Eventually other zombies will find you and for the first time in your life you will realize, you are not alone.

Sharon Kennedy

Sharon M. Kennedy is a freelance writer from Brimley, a small town on the shores of Lake Superior in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Sharon writes a general interest column for a number of local newspapers. She admits she’s a late blooming “Boomer” and tends to forget that most women her age are enjoying retirement while she’s embarking on a new career. After teaching English Composition at a local university, Sharon turned to her real love. Writing stories that tug at your heartstrings or make you chuckle is her hallmark.