The Fearless Caregiver


Gary Barg - Editor-in-chiefThe Art of David


The last time I saw my friend David, he was enthusiastic about his life. He talked about expanding his photography gallery, had just moved into a townhouse with his new love after reconciling to a devoted friendship with his ex of 30 years, and had plans for renovating their townhouse that sounded truly terrific.  This was an astoundingly positive turn of events for someone who had been diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome back in the days when nobody knew much about the disease and many thought it was psychosomatic, at best. The simple act of going to the grocery store could have him bed-ridden for weeks.  David would persevere through the syndrome, and many surgeries for stomach ailments, not only without complaint, but would always have a project going—around the house, with his camera or through his non-profit work.

I was gratified to see David enjoying life so much, because I don’t know that I ever met anyone who seemed to embrace it so well.  I think that his outward serenity was the reason that the best work I ever saw hanging in his gallery, even among many famous artists, was his own.  In conversation as well as through his art, he always seemed to capture the true essence of the situation at hand or the person before him. 

Caregiver Bipolar ChannelAfter our lunch in Raleigh, I returned home to Florida feeling good about how David’s life was turning around for him and I went about my own business.  That was at least six months ago.  Last night, I received an email. David had pointed a gun to his head and fired. He died hours later in the emergency room.  With all the mental and physical health challenges that David was able to overcome, the one that turned out to be insurmountable was his bipolar disorder.

Nobody’s personal story can be neatly captured in percentages, but it bears saying that nearly 20 percent of people diagnosed with bipolar disorder, like David, will commit suicide.  David leaves behind so many questions, unanswered promises and people who love him unconditionally, and who are just starting the painful journey of putting the pieces together after a suicide.  

I am still in shock thinking about the level of unshared pain he must have been going through to commit this one irretrievable act. What I do know is that he left an indelible impact on me through our many hours of conversations about almost everything under the sun, his infectious laugh and his art.  And that is something for which I will always be grateful.  

Rest in peace, my friend.



  Gary Barg
Today's Caregiver magazine
Friday September 23, 2011
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