My new life, my new normal, started the moment I heard the phrase, “Your son Charles has been found dead this morning….” My life was split in two–before he died and after he died. Every picture I see or memory I have goes into one of those categories.
Five years after Charles’s suicide, I am still stunned he killed himself. However, those with lived experience have helped me understand by sharing their stories and allowing me to listen when they are in their darkest places. Charles’s music filled in a lot of blanks. My own writing helped me find other answers.
I don’t really know exactly how I survived this tragedy. To be honest, I’m still surviving it. It has no ending. No one reaches a point one day and declares their grief over. There is no certificate that marks a healing milestone, or trophies for having your soul dragged over broken glass. Hallmark doesn’t have a card that says, “Congratulations. You survived five years after your son’s death.”
Along the way, there have been periods of anger, helplessness, relief, and resentfulness. I visited bitterness sporadically. Sadness was and still is part of that journey. Love, hope, and joy are, too.
What propels me to move forward is an innate sense of wanting to keep my son’s spirit alive. If I had to give Charles up, I have to make it count. Make him count. Because he mattered.