17 Nov suicide mom
Sometimes, I think I get so distracted with thoughts of death that I limit my ability to focus on life. When I realize I am doing that, the pendulum swings radically in the other direction and I am determined to laugh a little louder, breathe a little deeper, and suck a few more ounces of joy out of my day. What a nutso way to live. It’s bipolar with an unhealthy dose of guilt-laded grief. We must all be like that in some way… Suicide moms, that is. What a term. I have a friend whose son is battling cancer. We were chatting the other day about some amazing gifts that were given to her non-profit organization to pamper some “Cancer Moms” and I walked away a little sadder and emptier than I have felt in a while. If they are Cancer Moms, what am I? I am a Suicide Mom?
I hate that.
There is shame in that title. There is blame in that title. There is responsibility, guilt, assumptions, insinuations, all-knowing looks. There are fingers pointing, tongues wagging, and a whole hell of a lot less empathy to be shared. Not to my face, of course. No one would dare. (Remember the pendulum? It swings pretty hard. And let’s face it, people have really big game when they’re not looking you in the eye.) I’m not paranoid. I’ve heard it. Friends have heard it. They’ve been asked questions by people who never knew my son, and they’ve heard the insinuations people make about me… “There are always signs…” “He must have been dealing with depression…” “She is in denial…”
I’ve heard it all, sometimes from the voice inside my head. I think the reason why I immediately formed the aMasongrace project was to dispel some of those off-base assumptions. To maybe alert another parent. To ‘raise awareness’ sounds super altruistic, but that’s it really. We need to be aware that even Kings can make decisions too quickly. Happy kids hurt themselves. Smart kids die. Good kids, normal kids, well-adjusted kids. I know this to be true because my kid was all of those things. Happy, smart, good, normal, well-adjusted. I cannot say it enough. For those of you who knew him, you KNOW this to be true.
There were no secrets. Hidden agendas. No major malfunction or dirty dysfunction. We were close. Two peas in a pod. He loved me, confided in me, trusted me. We had battles, out in the open, all cards on the table, no punches below the belt. We slammed a few doors, and we hugged it out. We apologized to each other. We listened to each other. We actually enjoyed each other. (Shocker. Yes, I enjoyed my teenage son. He was a blast and a half and funnier than most adults I’ve met. He had a tender heart and was kind more often than not.)
So why did this ‘happen’ to us? Why did he make this fatal mistake? Sometimes I believe that If I could answer that, it would make the next bazillion minutes on earth so much easier for me. Honestly, I know it wouldn’t. The fact is, he is gone. I am left to limp along without my sidekick. To laugh at my own jokes. To buy myself Christmas presents, to wrap them, to unwrap them, to take a selfie and to post a smile. I am left to wonder ‘what if’ and to cry over ‘what is.’ I will never have an explanation deeper or more accurate than what I have now, what I had that day. He got in trouble and ended his own life.
What. The. Actual. Fuck.
Did the offense warrant death? Was it so great that we couldn’t overcome it together? In my words, did I communicate the underlying message, “I want you dead. I wish you would die” – Absolutely not! Ludicrous to even suggest that, right??? Then why-oh-why did my 14 year old beautiful boy take his own life?
Because he was 14.
Because he was lightning fast.
Because nothing is real. Life is temporary. Consequences have no value.
Because he saw others self-harm and survive.
Because he hated disappointing me.
Because he wanted to escape trouble. (Um, he lost his phone for the day because he lied.)
Because he didn’t know.
Because he didn’t think.
Because he thought he was in control. He thought he would be found in time.
I don’t know. I will never, ever know. His actions caused a tsunami-like wave of destruction, a permanent hole in the lives of many. No note. No letter of intent. No time to consider, to intervene. No history of depression. No signs. He was here then gone, as if the bell rang on the microwave and dinner was done. Time was up. Houdini escaped. Elvis left the building, Mason died.
I remember asking, “Is it real?” I look back now and can see the moment I went into shock. I fell onto the concrete and moaned, a deep strange moan from a pain I had never felt before. A stranger came over and offered a ride. “Are you okay? Can I drive you somewhere?” I immediately accepted and leapt into action. I called Southwest Airlines and changed my flight. They were on script and firmly reminded me that this was a “one-time exception.” My reply, “I don’t think my son will die twice but thank you for making that clear.”
Yeah. Get off the script lady. My son died. I am a Suicide Mom.
That really happened.
Today, I have a new life. I have a new job. I have a new place to live. I have a new dog. I have a new car, one he never rode in. I can remember looking back at him, in the rear view mirror of the old car, and smiling. I can remember reaching back to pat his leg and having him try to dodge me. We would really laugh at that. It never got old. “Let me love youuuuuu,” I’d plead, just as he would say to me when I wouldn’t let him lay ON me while watching tv. He was so loving. I’d kill 10 people just to have him shnuggle with me again. No, one hundred!
I’ve asked God why more times than I’ve asked him to provide for my family, or help me pass a test, or make the traffic clear (and you know that is a lot). I’ve asked Him why every single day, multiple times a day. Why couldn’t he have died in a car accident? Why couldn’t he have fallen off a cliff? Why did he have to die by his own hand? It simply is incomprehensible. If he had to die, why did it have to be self-inflicted??? I think the answer is that he didn’t have to die. It wasn’t ordained or planned or pre-destined. He made a choice. A really bad choice and it backfired. On him. On me. On all who loved him. My little boy made a mistake. My giant man-child didn’t even know what hit him, I’m sure.
He took an uncalculated risk, he leaped without looking, and Death (that bastard) came for him quickly. No one should lose a child, regardless of circumstance.
I am a Suicide Mom now. I wish I was the last one, ever. I wish I could close the club I belong to and prevent more deaths. I don’t know how to do that though when these decisions can be made in a millisecond, without warning. The only thing I know how to do is share my pain, share my story, share my son, share-share-share-share-share and keep sharing. Maybe someone will read this and make a different choice in their own life. Maybe someone will forward it to a friend and make a difference in their life. Maybe, just maybe, we can ‘raise awareness’ that self-harm and suicide isn’t just reserved for those who are battling depression or showing outward signs of distress. Traditional criteria doesn’t always apply, and more people are ‘at risk’ than we could even begin to guess. Maybe the more we talk about the value of life, the reality of hope, and the quantity of love we have for our kids, the better prepared they will be when crises come.
My heart goes out to Suicide Moms, past, present, and future.