If you or someone you know is in crisis or having suicidal thoughts please reach out. You are not alone. Here are some resources.
Hello my dear son,
I showed you your father’s wedding ring the other day. I modeled my engagement ring, my wedding ring. You slipped his ring on your fingers to see how close your hands are to his. It fit best on your middle finger, but still slid easily over your knuckle. You have more growing to do.
You’re 14-years-old. It’s amazing how fast the years go by. It’s funny, the differences between years and days. Years fly by, always. It doesn’t matter what happens within the days that compose them. They are always fast. You always pause and look back and wonder where the time went.
But days. Days are different. Days can go by as quickly as a cloud burst during springtime in Virginia. Days can be eternal.
I know that your days and years have been hard. You were introduced to death before it was more than an abstract concept. Most children find out about death with the loss of their first goldfish. You first experienced this with the death of your father. The suicide of your father. And, oh, how that deepens the complexity of his loss.
One night you fell asleep — we fell asleep — not knowing that our lives would be completely different when we woke up. It was amazing to me, the next day. Amazing because the sun rose and broke through the clouds, people woke up and commuted to work, the drum of city life continued, without even a moment’s hesitation. It surprised me that my husband could die, that our world could be shattered, that my voice could scream, and no one around us felt the ripple. That was the longest day of my life. I remember wishing for nighttime so that it would be over. I knew the nightmare wouldn’t end the next day, but at least it wouldn’t be the day that I found the body of my husband anymore.
Periodically, you pose questions, important questions, smart questions, questions that I can’t always answer. Like, why.
Why is such a big question surrounding suicide. Why do some people battle depression and live until 100? Why do some people require medication when others do best with talk therapy? Why do some people succumb to suicide? I wish I knew those answers. Researchers are doing their best to figure out those answers. Your father fought a lot of demons. He fought them the best he could. He fought for 27 years before they finally were too much.
On the day that I showed you the rings, you smiled your sad smile, but this time you asked a question:
Do you think he would be proud of me?
I know he would be proud of you. He was proud of you from the moment you were born. You, his firstborn, his first son. He held you in his arms, gazed at you in awe, and said, “One hour old and I’m already so proud of you.
His suicide does not in any way reflect his love for you. You were one of his greatest joys, his greatest loves. The other, your brother. You both are his legacy and he was thrilled to have sons. There is nothing you could have done better to have stopped the suicide. His suicide was not a response to being unhappy with you or your brother. His suicide does not diminish the absolute love he felt for you.
You grapple the most with these questions, because of how old you were when he died. I know you have several vague memories that you hold tightly against your chest. We will continue talking about him, his name, his memories. We will continue to explore the items he left behind, so that he never truly disappears.
I know that your father’s suicide will impact the relationships that you form as you grow. It impacts everything. It impacts your mood and your struggles. It taints every milestone with a bittersweet flavor. He doesn’t get to see your progress in drawing or writing or skateboarding. He doesn’t get to hear about your favorite anime shows. He will never see you graduate. He will never hear about crushes or be introduced to girlfriends. He will never see his grandchildren, should you or your brother decide to start your own families.
If it makes you hesitant to form deep bonds with people, I hope that you are able to push forward into the discomfort of vulnerability. Most people, even without significant loss, find this difficult. The worst part of love is loss. Life is uncertain. Love anyway. Love your friends, love your family. Don’t be afraid to fall in love. Don’t be afraid to transition from a relationship. It is all within the spectrum of life and learning.
We talk a lot about mental health, depression, suicide, relationships, boundaries, and red flags. You know very well that there are likely few, if any, topics that are too taboo for discussion in this household. I do this because I am afraid of the alternative. I worry about you and your brother. You both deal with depression and it is my goal to give you all of the tools available. This may make you feel as if every question comes with an answer, but it’s not that straightforward. Unfortunately, life sometimes provides scenarios that don’t make sense to us.
Why did your father complete suicide? I know what impacted his depression and can name some of what he battled. But an exact reason… that will remain a question mark on our hearts forever.
Would he be proud of you? This I know for certain: his was and will always be proud of you. You were one of the biggest loves in his life. He would be so incredibly proud at the young man you are becoming. This is truth. This is fact.
He loved you. Fiercely. Eternally.
This post was previously published on Medium.
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