The accepted truth is that it gets easier over time. That the searing hurt becomes less and that the memories will be less harsh and painful. For the most part, on most days now, that is true. Day to day life goes on and I am able to not only function but am starting to have glimpses of my new normal. How my life will be – lived with only 3 children living and one always missing.
Yet the reality is that I’m haunted. The memories flood me unexpectedly, rampaging my heart and mind and leaving me struggling to see past the moment.
I am haunted by his pain and by his fears. Haunted by his loneliness, by his choice, the emptiness that he felt – and by the emptiness he left behind by his death.
I am ravaged by the memories of him that contradict in their rawness.
I see his mischievous grin and hear his toddler giggles…my hand remembers his tiny grasp in mine as we walked…his hand so warm and soft and so small inside mine.
My mind reels as it flashes with images of him, lost. I see him again…even now, as then, my eyes refusing to translate what they saw to my mind.My hand remembers the impossibility of touch as I reached to him. Unable to believe what I was seeing and feeling.
Haunted, and hurting. Somedays, every bit now, as then.
I tried to make it better.
I tried to help you see that it would be ok.
I tried, even when I didn’t believe it myself
Even when I knew that it might not be ok.
Even when I was so scared that it wasn’t going to be ok.
I tried to promise you that, even when both of us knew I couldn’t promise it at all.
But I tried.
You tried to let me believe that you believed me.
You tried, when we both knew you didn’t.
You tried to make me believe that it would all be ok when you were gone.
Even when you couldn’t look me in the eyes while you told me that.
Because you knew it wouldn’t be ok when you were gone.
Even though you knew that it was goodbye you were saying with those words.
But you tried.
Why now? Why this time?
What is it that tips the scales for someone who is struggling with the choice? The choice of whether or not to take that one final action that will end it all.
Is it that the pain has become too much? Or is it that moment when it doesn’t hurt anymore at all that marks the breaking point? That moment when the ache of depression is replaced with apathy. The numbness that envelops you and just leaves you not caring if you wake up tomorrow.
When we see the death of someone who has struggled for so long with depression we wonder… why now? What was it that made them, this time, take that one final step that they never did before? Why, when they made the choice before to live, did they now, this time, choose to die? Those questions bring with them the accompanying ones that haunt those of us left behind.
Was there something that we could have done to change that final decision. Were there actions that we could have taken that would have altered the path? Words that might have been spoken? Something…anything?
No one will ever know though. That one singular final choice that can never be taken back is not in anyone else’s hands. That’s the answer, and it’s the only answer that we’ll ever get.
Inspired today by a writing by a friend that speculated on whether time is sometimes a waste when you reflect back on how you spent it…
My philosophy is that every moment you have, has value. No matter how important or trivial, profound or ridiculous they may seem. It all is part of our experience and that shapes and builds our lives. Even moments that we look back on and the time was painful or hard to bear teaches us things. They all create memories and whether they are positive or negative, they are part of what makes us who we are.
The things that we do with our time shows us, many times, what we won’t do with our time again… learning experiences. It can also show us how we want to spend more of our time. Teaching us where to place the most fleeting and unrecoverable commodity that we have… time.
It’s never a waste… a waste implies that it has no value and as long as we’re astute enough to collect knowledge from those moments… knowledge that will enrich our lives by helping us choose how to fill our moments, it’s never wasted.
The truth is, you will never get those moments back… and the sand will run through the hourglass all the same, regardless of how you spend the time, so you may as well spend it consciously and purposely and how you want.
When I was younger, I would finish every book or movie that I began. Partly stubbornness, partly a misplaced tenacity and partly guilt that I had to finish what I started. I spent many hours slowly and painfully trudging through bad writing and acting.. horrendous plots and stories that I had no interest in seeing the resolution of. Then, right around the time that I began practicing Yoga and meditation, I discovered the freedom of choosing how to invest my time. I still remember it was after a movie and I said out loud “well, that’s two hours of my life I’ll never get back” and I actually felt it. It struck me that I had, in my mind, wasted, two hours. At a time in my life when I had very little “me time” to begin with. Yet the truth is that those hours that seemed so “wasted” were in fact some of the best spent moments because of what they showed me.
So now, if I pick up a book that just doesn’t grab me after a solid try or sit down to a movie that bores me… I move on and find a different way to fill that time. Sometimes I still spend hours watching ridiculously bad movies – but it’s by choice (I love a B movie that is so bad it’s good!)… or I spend a day on the couch instead of out for a hike but it’s a choice, made with awareness that all of the moments of my life don’t have to be (and won’t be) filled with deep and meaningful epiphany-causing events. That every moment has value if it’s filled mindfully. My life is made up of trivial and silly and profound – all in a tangled mess that makes my life as awesome as it is. No one is to judge or decide whether my time is “well spent” but me… after all it’s my life and not anyone else’s.
I had someone ask recently what had happened with Willie. They knew vaguely that I had lost someone but didn’t know who or details as they haven’t been in my life until very recently.
What struck me was just how much it still hurts after 2 and a half years… and also how swiftly the emotions rise up again, out of the blue it feels like. It also made me have to stop and think about how to respond. What exactly did happen? How do I wrap up all that was into an answer without getting either too intense or glossing over the situation and belittling what happened?
In self-employed business, this concept is called your elevator speech; the premise is, you get on an elevator and have 30 seconds to answer the question someone asks you about what your business is. Having been self-employed for most of my career, I taught others this skill and honed it myself. It sounds odd to relate this to that but really, it’s the same thing…and it got me thinking.
How do you sum up so much in so little as words? How do I convey all the amazing things that my son was, his sense of humour, his interests and his quirks. How do I explain a young man who was just starting to show who he would be… then have that veer wildly off course because of mental illness? How am I supposed to put months of fear and worry and ultimately panic and devastation into mere words that can’t possibly express the journey that was and still is?
Like the dash between birth and death dates on a tombstone. The futility of trying to capture what was is glaringly obvious to me.