The Suicide arrived at the gates of heaven with the rope still around his neck. It seemed like he had been travelling for a long time and he was very tired. Wearily, he knocked and was mildly surprised to find that the door in the gate swung open to reveal a friendly-looking man wearing a Friar’s brown robes.
The Saint welcomed him in and showed him to the comfortable quarters that had been prepared for his arrival.
The noose remained around the Suicide’s neck – hanging down, with five neat loops creating a perfect hangman’s knot, and a further six feet of rope dangling to the floor and trailing behind him, tripping him up from time to time and occasionally tangling round his legs quite completely. One day, the Saint asked him, “Why do you still wear that thing?” “I’ve tried to take it off but it doesn’t want to go.” The Saint left it at that and afterlife went on.
One day, the Suicide approached the Saint, tapped him on the shoulder and gestured to the rope. “This was the only decision I ever truly made for myself.” He turned away sadly and went on his way, barely noticing as one of the loops of the hangman’s knot loosened.
Another day, “I must have hurt so many people.” The second loop of the knot loosened.
As huddled as two people can be round a fire in a courtyard, “I need it to remind me.” The Saint gently replied, “You’ll always have your scars.” The Suicide felt around his neck and touched his arms – how had he never noticed the welts and tears left by the trauma before? How had he failed to see the marks of a lifetime of pain? Something shifted inside him and the third loop loosened whilst the remaining two stayed true and tight.
Days or months later, “This is all that I have.”
“Do you really want to carry this ugly thing with you for all eternity? Look at how it’s getting in the way of doing the things you enjoy.” The Suicide sat and thought and realised the truth of it – if only he could be rid of this troublesome rope! The penultimate loop came away.
Not long after that, “This is who I am.” The Saint leaned over and whispered in his ear. Sitting back up, he said, “That is your true name, who you are, what you have done, the lives you have touched. That is who you are. It was first given to you at your birth and is given again to you in your death. You will not forget it again.” And the man realised this was true. The final turn of the knot loosened itself and, as he stood up, it slid from his shoulders. The Saint took a step forward and it looked like he trod on the end of the rope as it slithered down – but he was just picking it up and tidying it away.
His scars glowing with a strange and beautiful light, and grasping his new and old true name deep inside, the former suicide walked through another door and further into paradise.