I got this card from a dear neighbor, Roxann, on Charles’ birthday week. We used to live across the street from her family and watched her kids grow up before they moved away around middle school. They were the best neighbors. She and her husband have two lovely daughters.
I remember when the Netflix series came out, “13 reasons Why.” I didn’t get past the preview, thinking I had enough real-life tragedy and wasn’t interested in immersing myself in such a sad story, regardless of the overarching messages it may have had.
I know death
I know what it is like to find the father of my child – my husband of years ago – dead from an overdose. Suicide was cause of death.
I know what it is like to whisper in my teenage son’s ear as he lies in ICU bleeding to death from a car crash with no hope of survival, “It’s ok to join your Dad in Heaven.”
I know what it is like to make life and death decisions for loved ones, like telling doctors to stop the life support for my sister after she was fatally injured in a house fire.
I know what it is like to kiss my mother goodbye as her heartbeat fades away after a bout of pneumonia took her away in a weekend.
I saw my father take his last breath. I was with my two aunts in their dying hours. I spoke at the Celebration of Life of a lovely girl who lost her battle with leukemia at age 13. This sweet soul was my step niece. And there are others.
These are my dead people whom I love and miss and would give anything in the world to bring them back.
I wake up in middle of the night thinking my dead people are alive. Everything is normal again. But when I come to, the heavy sadness and loss take over.
While I know death better than most people my age, I am not ready to go there. And if anyone would feel more at home on the other side, it would be me.
But I am alive
I am walking and breathing and thinking. I can manage to drag one foot in front of the other, and sometimes I can catch my breath, relax and think. I have learned to be thankful for each living day that I am healthy, even with deep, searing emotional grief-pain of horrific loss that is impossible to endure at times.
I literally started to run and strengthen my body so I could mentally cope with the grief-pain after losing my only son more than a year ago. Absolutely nothing can compare to the death of your child and I mean NOTHING. I figured out I had to run WITH the grief-pain instead of away from it.
The grief-pain catches up and demands to be noticed. And that’s ok. The grief-pain is the love I have for my son and deceased family.
Pain is part of life. A big part. God did not promise us a comfy life with no problems. Yet, we, particularly Americans, yearn for this Facebook picture view of selfie smiles, good food, witty quotes, grand accomplishments and lovely vacations.
And we may binge on Netflix shows like “13 reasons Why.”
Here is my one reason to live: I am not finished!
Life is worth living and I have many more years to go no matter how hard and unbearable it can be at times. The pain lets up and from the depths of suffering, I can turn the sadness into something good and positive, like writing this piece for Emotionally Naked.
If you are at your wits end and are reading this – just know, you are not alone. No matter how bad things get, the horrible feelings pass and you can breath again. Hang on! Life is worth living. Of all people, I should know.
I wish I had the words to describe the deadness that occupies the places in me where other things once lived – -things like humor.
It seems like I have a sense of humor at times but everything is shallow. The depth that I used to experience and feel is gone. Pain is what I feel deeper and more often than any other feeling. I feel that even more than I feel love.
I swear sometimes the miss, and the sorrow, and the regret are so deep that my bones ache.
I hate being still more than anything because then my mind just wanders to the hurt and so flying for hours in a plane is exhausting. The sadness is consuming when I can’t pace or fidget or move shoes. (I am in the shoe business.)
I don’t know what else to do with the blinding pain and so I guess I’ll just keep writing to spill it all out of me.
Here’s what the thoughts sounded like today during the excruciating stillness of tiny airplane seat. I woke up today and so I guess I’m still here. It’s been almost 7 months since my son’s suicide and I still can’t decide if the agony of waking is worse than trying to get sleep. I am never rested.
There is a split second – just a fraction of a moment in time – when my eyes first open that I am unaware of my own lack of normalcy. I know that normalcy is overrated and, it might even be boring, but I long for it with the knowledge that it will never be me. I am not normal. I am alive and my son is dead.
This is an unnatural order of things so severe that normalcy is an impossibility.
So I wake up, after tiny increments of restless sleep, and in that fraction of a second before my senses can wrap themselves around a day, I am unaware of my own unnatural existence. Then the wave crashes and I feel the weight of Tyler’s suicide.
Grief is not linear and there is no final destination. It’s like traveling over tough terrain in unfamiliar territories without a GPS. And I have a terrible sense of direction. So mostly I’m just lost.
Charles always had a lively and colorful personality. He could make anyone laugh. I think that’s why so many couldn’t believe he suffered from depression. He didn’t get the chance to understand that it could be treated or that the world was not a better place without him in it.
Charles was so cute. Everyone thinks that about their child. Charles is on the right. Charming, effervescent and full of bubble and fun. We never went anywhere his life that the whole room did not react to him like moths to a flame.
He had “it” and now he’s gone, a tragic suicide as the result of depression and addiction. And you know the worst part? He was ashamed of his illnesses. I think part of that is why he killed himself. It’s time we stop shaming people. Who’s in?
It’s letters like these that make my life worth living since Charles’ suicide. Warning. It will make you cry. A good cry. It is so thoughtful and well written. If the author is out there, thank you. This truly defines my purpose. I have removed identifying information to protect the sender’s identity.
I have tried writing to you many times, but have felt like it may be inappropriate for me to reach out to you because I had so little interaction with Charles, but I’ve been keeping up with your blog and after reading about how Charles was always willing to reach out, it reminded me of the very first time that I actually met him, and I wanted to share that story with you.
Charles was one of those people with whom I had many mutual friends, but I never really had the chance to hang out with him, and I think that was in part because he and my younger sister were in the same grade, ...read more