These are his eight reasons to keep living:
1) Hugh has always imagined that there’s a thin steel chain running through his life, and what he has to do when he feels at his worst is to reach out and hold onto it. Even if he follows it blindly, haltingly, placing one hand after the other on it in the dark, it’s there and will lead him to the next day and the next. It’s his lifeline and his will to live. Visualizing this chain helps him stay alive.
2) There was always in Hugh a desire to help people. He remembers times he behaved with toxic selfishness or gave himself up to apathy, but he knows that the desire to sincerely help is still there. To perform careful kindnesses gives him purpose and even joy. He has told himself that as long as he can do a kindness for someone, he’ll stay alive.
3) Hugh has no family and has lost many friends over the years. But there are still people in his life who care whether he lives or dies. Kilter Street Manor Apartments is the sort of place he would have looked down on years ago, full of people he would have privately dismissed as losers, but now that he’s here he likes them. (Most of them.) He knows that his landlady, Zeb, and some of his neighbors (like Sigrid, Hank & Ivy, and Eben) would be truly hurt by his death. He doesn’t want to give them pain or give them one less hope in life.
4) There’s still a lot he doesn’t know, and on most days, he wants to know. His heart lifts a little when he walks past bookstores and wooded parks. There are mysteries all around, and there’s more that he can know and try to understand.
5) He is hoping to get a pet. A dog or a cat. He doesn’t think he can afford either now, but the thought of having a pet brings him happiness.
6) Despair is a state of mind. It isn’t eternal. It can pass; it can change. He can change. He doesn’t need to end his life to change. He can heal, he can transform himself, even if he’s a scarred patchwork, he can be something strong or substantive. He can plant new seeds in the seeming wasteland of his mind. He reminds himself of this regularly.
7) He has been surprised unpleasantly, many times, devastated many times. But the world has surprised and can continue to surprise him with beauty in all forms – quiet beauty like the light stealing into his home in the morning, or something spectacular like a raucous laugh, a fireworks display. And even the devastation can keep him alive – he knows there are people who have predicted his early death and have enjoyed his many failures, and he will live in defiance of all of them. He will claw his way forward with his cheek to the dirt and live.
8) Even one reason is enough, and he has several. He doesn’t want to waste them and waste himself. He has become something of an expert in survival.