Reflection on “Bad Liar”

I love the emotion that Imagine Dragons invokes in me when I listen to any of their songs. Bad Liar is no exception. My youngest daughter loves the song too and so when she asked me to play it on the way to her daycare, I said okay. I had never seen the video until that day… I broke down in tears…. Here’s why:

Now I’m fully aware that the lyrics speak about the adoration a man has for a woman who may not realize he cares, or maybe they- like he said- fear what may come about if they relent to love, or maybe she’s a narcissist who only enjoys his chase… I get it. But the video took me to a very different place…

It shows a woman dancing around a man who is slouched and appears unresponsive to her charms. Perhaps they chose this because he is trying to “act coy” and not let her know he loves her… Which ultimately ends in her giving up and leaving…

But I saw it in this way:

There are people in our lives whom we care deeply for… Yet these people suffer, locked in their own bodies and minds with the demons of depression. We could spend years dancing around them… Trying to just evoke some kind of response to let us know they are still in there… That there is still a chance that they can win the war!! The battle inside requires a daily or even moment-to-moment choice to repuke the darkness. (I know because I’ve been there. I grew up fighting the battle with chronic depression). For those that are “stuck,” often cannot physically, mentally, emotionally choose to get out of it. Many hit rock bottom before they can get back up. Others commit suicide… Then there are those that spend their lives, killing themselves. They commit a slow drawn out suicide over the course of years or decades.

The video brought out memories of the dance I have done around others trying to bring them out. While they just stand there. Yet it seems that it doesn’t matter how much the loved ones are “helping” when the one who suffers is unwilling or unable to make the decision to live. The individual must do their part… Even if the only part they have is to make the choice to live. But there comes a time, when they don’t or can’t choose, that the one dancing around must say… “Okay. I will respect your decision” and walk away.

I sob. I sob when I see the video or even listen to the song now. I think of that moment when I had to ultimately respect my dad’s decision to die… 15 years ago.

I was visiting their house one evening. My dad had severe heart issues or indigestion or whatever. It was so severe that I suggested calling 9-1-1, but he refused. I begged him… Still “No.” I even called my professor- who was a doctor- to ask him what to do. If an adult refuses treatment, we must respect it even when we disagree. Thankfully, he made it through. A day or two after, I replaced his recliner with a treadmill. He could still watch TV, but he needed to walk to get back to health. He moved it back. It was at that time that I made the decision to respect his decision… As everyone else in the family had done years before, I threw in the white flag.

I focused on loving him just as he was, instead of trying to change or fix him. I accepted his death. It took 15 years for him to finally accomplish his goal. Our family watched him go through the ups and downs of depression. We watched the gap between peaks (happiness) widen while the lull (the low, dark times) also become more expansive. In his final weeks, our hindsight shows us that he was trying to make closure in his life and that spurts of “good moments” were more frequent. It was his rally to connect with his loved ones.

His death was unexpected in the moment, but anticipated for over 20 years. When the moment came, I was at peace. I was joyous because I knew he could rest. Rest from the torment of his past… Rest from the daily struggle he faced having depression… I felt joy for my family that we could dance again for each other instead of having to walk on eggshells. My mother could finally breathe again.

Depression is a lifelong battle that affects all members of the family. It is more serious than telling someone to just “snap out of it.” We can pray daily. We can cook for them or walk with them. We can dance and dance… But if they don’t choose life, then we take a bow of acceptance and walk away. I love my dad!!! I loved his genius… His compassion for others… His willingness to help whomever he could for nothing in return… His dry humor… He had so many amazing qualities.

I loved him for who he was.

I loved him through the darkness.

May he rest in peace. God willing, I will see him again someday.


Don Rufus Hager

October 28, 1944 – February 03, 2019


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