Sunday, April 13, 2014

I Am a Survivor

It has been almost a year, one that feels as if it is an eternity. My sorrow has not lightened, my heartbreak is just as sharp. The pain and memories still are as they were then, they have not turned to smiles when I think of you my darling. Only longing in my heart for you and an ache in my soul that is beyond words and explanation. My love has not changed it remains as true and strong as the day I first saw your eyes for the very first time. I cannot imagine the years to come, will it ever go away? I think there is an answer to that question, NO NEVER! Never my sweet son. I have never read anything as close to how I feel everyday as this. Years from now I am sure I will look back and this again will have evolved. What is in these words will change a thousand times throughout my life. I can only hold on to my memories, they are all I have!

         I am a Survivor. I am the Mother of a Suicide. 

My child killed himself, and that fact is always just under the surface of
everything else that exists.

Please be patient with me. Though it has been nearly a year, I am not the

same person I was, I doubt what I ever was, and what I am now is still
evolving. While I can look and sound quite regular, I am not.

If I had a broken leg, you would allow me some time to heal but yet accept

me when I tried to return to normal life. You would hold the door open for
walk a little more slowly to be with me, and still give me credit for sense
even as the regular things I used to accomplish had now become strained and

I have a broken heart. I never anticipated this, never prepared for this.

"cast," my support and protection while I mend, is your friendship and
understanding. Daily I find new ways to live and survive, but everything is
different, strained, evolving. I need you to recognize this. I need your
help in lots of little ways.

The brain is a mysterious thing as it tries to heal the heart. I focus on

forgetting, and it works too well. I forget where I set my keys, my shoes,
my purse.

I forget your name, what we discussed last, what day it is, where I

left your phone number or address, whatever appointments I made. I forget
cook, to eat, to tuck the tag into the back of my shirt or check the mirror
I leave. I am embarrassed. I try to focus on remembering, and I remember
well. My mind wanders while I am trying to listen to you.

Our friendship or our conversation reminds me of something he said or

something funny that happened to him, or the scent of the Autumn air
me of the last season I spent with him. Your sons and your children and
joys conflict me--I was once there where you are, or maybe I would have
been, if only... I feel guilty for short-shifting our friendship, after all
you have
done for me.

Everything has changed. I am disabled but healing. My purse and briefcase

have been traded for a backpack to give me a measure of security over
misplacing them.

My keys are now tied to a string around my neck (when I can find them). My

freezer is full of quick frozen meals that I can whip up as effortlessly as
possible, if I have the energy to shop for them. I rely on medications to
shore up my thin veneer and keep me positive and almost normal-looking.
Sometimes I forget them, too.

Don't be afraid to ask me about or comment on what you see; I need your

perspective on anything, everything, my friend, because I am re-learning to
trust my own judgment again. Once I was confident. I learned too late that
for my child, something I took for granted as simple and sacred and strong,
was not strong enough to hold him in the world I brought him into, and this
has shattered the very foundation of everything I've ever believed in.

I need to talk about what happened-I like it when you care enough to ask.

Don't be afraid you will say the wrong thing, and especially, don't become
anxious or uncomfortable if your tenderness or the memory of my child makes
me teary.

This is simply the rain on the roses, and it will pass. If I am ever to

bloom again, this is as important as the sun, which does come through these
clouds more often as the months go by. You are helping me heal.

I need to feel good. It's a struggle sometimes. When I begin to enjoy

myself, it is quickly interrupted by guilt.
"how dare I laugh again when my baby is dead?"
"have I forgotten him so quickly that I can feel happy again so soon?"
"maybe I didn't REALLY love him enough, and that's what REALLY killed

These tapes are deadly. These thoughts are a downward spiral. Help me drown

out those painful voices by reassuring me that life is for the living and I
deserve to live again. Remind me to have fun. Let me laugh with you and
forget for a moment.

You will know when I am ready to talk. A genuine, "how are you doing?" will

bring one of two responses. If you get a quick, "great, fine, how are you?"
then probably I really am, and let's keep going from there.

Please. If you get a quiet, furtive, "fine, thank you." then I am probably

NOT fine. Asking "what can I do for you?" does not help. It will probably
"nothing-really-thanks anyway."

Here is what I really need: Encourage me. Listen to me. Do small normal

things for me that I may be too absorbed to do for myself. Help me care for
my family. bring dinner. Drop by and feed my cat. Drop by and bring me
or tea, or chocolate (lots of chocolate) or share an evening with me just
Ignore the state of my house when you arrive-it mirrors the state of my
life. Water my plants.

Lend a hand where you can. Get somebody to mow my lawn or rake my leaves or

offer to drive the kids to their appointments. Remind me of my
Cover for me if I am not where I should be and then go looking for me. Ask
me out, take me out, get me out.

Let's go do normal things, like shopping or

folding laundry at your house or going to a meeting together or hot-tubbing
on a Saturday night. Help me rediscover the satisfaction and even joy that
life brings. Believe me, I am acutely aware that every moment is precious.

Check in with my children-they are hurting, too. Encourage them to talk and

heal. Pizza and an ear helps. Help me keep an eye on them when they are out
of my sight. Feel free to be a friend or to "parent" them, too. They are
as disoriented as I am. They are also at risk. They are survivors who have
both their sibling and the stability of a home they once knew.

Treat us like any other survivor of a fatal illness, always living in a

tentative, strange remission between the lost past and the ever present
fearful new possibility that another child, another someone we love will
shock us again.

We are not contagious, except for that first excruciatingly painful moment

when it dawns on you that this could happen to your child or someone you
love, too.

Treat us just as you would a cancer survivor over the long term, with

respect, support, tolerance; expecting and riding through setbacks yet
forging ahead to make every day just a little bit more pleasant.

Our Angel died only once. Survivors of suicide die a 1000 deaths. William

Shakespeare once described: "Grief fills up the room of my absent child,
in his bed, Walks up and down with me, Puts on his pretty looks, Repeats

Macbeth left brave advice: "Give sorrow words. grief has need to speak,

whisper o'er the fraught heart and bid it break." My grief has need to
speak, and each time I am fortunate enough to be allowed to talk and share
to help spare someone else this sorrow, I gain a renewed strength that
my heart. I am honored that somehow Grace gives me a voice to explain all

Daily I am reclaiming some bit of treasure from this tragedy, and my broken

heart mends just a bit more. Please bear with me.

Written by Holland, Mother of Nicholas

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