by Brynne Weaver
(Caption for the picture above: Barbara Ann DeTurk Weaver 05/18/1960 – 08/25/2005)
The thing about suicide is: everyone assumes everything was bad.
This assumption has bothered me for years. The day of my mom’s funeral – where the air was filled with an insurmountable heaviness, “So sorry, so terribly sorry, we never knew, we never thought….”
Yes, well. Neither did we.
My mom was extroverted, fun. She was loud, loved to laugh, and smoke and drink. She loved pranks. She loved her ’80s hair (long after the ’80s) and bright red lipstick. She loved us. She showered us daily in her love: she would have done anything for us. Anything.
My 11 years of memories of her are filled with so much laughter, joy, and love.
Dancing in our kitchen to Elton John and belting out Chicago, feeding the ducks, countless McDonald’s drive-thru breakfasts, summer vacations in Florida and Nags Head, playing basketball, and running around the woods with us. Always with her 35mm camera and camcorder in hand.
She documented everything.
We have photo albums dating from the 1970s – 2005, the year she died. One for each year, sometimes more. She documented her pregnancy with me in a journal. My dad gave it to me a few years ago. “Dear Baby, oh my how you love Taco Bell!” She kept up with this journal even after my birth, adding a page every couple of years.
One of her last entries was from 2004, “You often speak of going to live in New York or Paris, and I believe that one day you will.”
I will never truly understand the pain my mom went through. I will never forget the most horrible day of my life, losing her, finding her. Sometimes, I wonder, is this the price for all the good? The ultimate childhood for the most horrific adolescence? In order to give, life has to take.
Suicide does not mean everything was terrible all the time. It does not mean the home was toxic or seething with darkness (though this can be true – and there were moments). It means that even functioning, loving, caring individuals can be deeply sick.
I think this is something more understood now than in 2005. And I hope it continues to be understood.
I consider myself incredibly lucky, and grateful, to have had her as my mama. I wish everyday she was still around, skipping around Paris with me with that big Barbara smile. I know she would have loved it here. For now, all I can hope is that I can carry on her legacy, share her poetry and photographs, and keep her alive through me, pulsing through my veins with love and laughter.
In the words of Mary Oliver, “Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness. It took years to understand that this too, was a gift.”