As I settle in to my new direction and new city I am caught up in the busy life of adjusting to a new job and finding a place to live…discovering new shops and where to go for the staples of life in a city that has been great to visit but never had to live up to the demands of day to day living.
My days are filled to over-flowing with scheduled tasks to learn my new job…I spend the days with my mind busy and my body on over drive to meet the demands of all that has to be done. For the first time in months I am focused and able to deliver with regards to a professional standard that I hold myself to. I am proud that I’m able to and not all that surprised that I have risen to the occasion so to speak! It feels good to be “me” again in a way that I haven’t been since last November when everyone’s focus became Willie’s mental health then eventually, dealing with his decision to end his life.
There have been a couple of times this past week, during the rare quiet times when I am faced with a sudden and over-whelming compelling urge to cry. Almost like a sneeze…it’s just suddenly there and you can’t control it. Other times a friend has said something and it has been, literally, a single word or sentence that triggers a memory that brings up Willie to the forefront of my mind.
Even through all the rushed hours of each day and the exhausted times he is always there, present in my thoughts. Just no onger the prevalent thought in my mind like he has been. The odd trigger that brings him back to the centre of my thoughts are unpredictable and hard to deal with.
I have become adept at dodging questions about family, children and my past before I moved here. I am purposefully vague with new people and have actually found myself lying to some. It’s just so much easier to say that I have 4 children and list their ages and move on. If the question is not asked by someone who is going to have a place in my life as a close friend, there is no reason in divulging what is awkward territory! There are just a couple of friends here who know and they are a comfort.
I am finding it a double edged sword here though with regards to losing Willie. While it is very freeing to be not surrounded by people who know it also means that I am surrounded by people who don’t know! I hate making people uncomfortable and the fact is, very simply, that being a mother who has lost a child to suicide, you make people uncomfortable. People look at you differently and they worry about you and they censor what they say to you and they alter how they act around you. My new work colleagues and friends here are not impacted by what they don’t know of…It is refreshing and feels good to just be “me”, to not be “the one whose son died”.
The flip side of this is the nagging feeling I have been having the last couple of days that I was finally able to verbalize to someone yesterday. After a simple comment triggered an emotional out pouring that I didn’t know was coming I managed to put into words a horrible fear and thoughts that have been swirling in my mind this past week.
The fear that…no one here knows Willie… very few people know OF him and what our family went through…it almost feels like here, he never existed. Almost like he never was. While I know I will never forget him or what happened, there is an irrational fear that because he is no longer the prevalent and all-consuming thought in my mind everyday that he will somehow mean less to me than he did even a week ago when I lived where he had lived. There is a slight guilt of moving on and be able to be “ok”…even though the reality is that the “ok” that I am is tenuously held together right now. I am because I have to be. Alot of faking it going on right now!
As I was verbalizing this to my sweetie through my tears, he held me and told me a most basic truth that I could not see through my fears and through my resolve to hold myself together. He said very simply…. Every day and every moment that I am here is BECAUSE of Willie. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for his death. The irony of the fact that as much as Willie chose to die, he also was abundantly clear that he wanted us to go on and live after he was gone; and not just to live, but to live how we wanted. I made the decision to move and make changes in my life as a direct result in the belief that something good must come out of this.
While I still struggle with being able to believe that reality is what it is and that Willie did what he did I am faced with the simple truth that every time I look around at where I am I acknowledge that it’s because of him that I’m here and therefore, he’s here with me in that way. Because of that, he’ll never be forgotten.