Role models?

Begin rant.

 

There is some part of me that is surprised by the words I heard at the skate park I went to with my son today, but another part of me that unfortunately isn’t at all surprised.

 

Here’s the scene.

Half a dozen kids at the skatepark riding scooters and doing tricks. A couple of those kids were about 14 years old, the others were all my sons age (around 11 or 12).

There were three men about 30 years old riding skateboards; standing slightly off to themselves but doing a great job of remarking to the younger kids when they did something cool or asking if they were ok when they wiped out. I actually thought how neat it was to see them being so great with the kids (aside from it’s also neat to see grown men still hanging out and having fun).

There were also three other men. These ones a bit older, mid 40’s or so and on skateboards as well. Off to themselves and louder and doing “bigger” tricks and generally mouthy and loud – mostly to each. But not quite just to each other.

 

One of the 14 year olds comes swooping around and does an impressive jump and spin thing (I don’t even pretend to know what these things are called). One of the 40 something men yells (loudly) “When are you going to man up and get rid of the sissy bars and ride a board?” The kid ignores him and rides off.

The man yells after him “Fine, I guess it’s good that your masculinity isn’t tied to your handlebars… I’m fine with LGBTQ… community, just didn’t know we had THOSE kind at our skatepark” At which point he and his two friends laughed and high fived each other.

Because it’s awesome to ridicule and taunt a youth?!

 

I was on the other side of the park and it was loud enough for me to hear it. At this point, the two 14 year olds were still scootering about and doing what they do, oblivious apparently and the taunts ended there. One of the thirty something guys yelled at the one kid that he “rocked it” when he went by and the kid just nodded and smiled. It was good to see that to try to balance the other remarks but the truth is that words can hurt. It was great to see that the intentionally hurtful remarks didn’t stop the boys. They didn’t leave and they didn’t stop. Who knows what was going on inside of them but they kept up a good front and that’s something. Hopefully that same strength was on the inside.

 

The upside to this was that it started a great conversation between myself and my son that continued for the walk to the car and the ride home. A conversation that let me see what an amazing young man he is. Open minded and understanding and aware. Hearing my son say to me that he doesn’t know why it matters who a person loves or has sex with because “people are just people” dulled the anger I still felt then after hearing the other words.

 

It’s sad that men who are supposed to be role models and examples for the younger generations to look to are expressing behaviours and beliefs that are hurtful. Expressions and actions that I sincerely hope end with them.

 

End rant.

 

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a now that doesn’t exist

I had a dream last night. A dream about Willie but not a dream like usual kind  I have that involves him. Not a nightmare in the traditional sense.  Not a dream of what was or of what happened but a dream that was of the now. But a now where he didn’t die. A now that exists with him in it, having not killed himself that day. 
I was sitting on bleachers in a school gymnasium. The old kind that pull out from the wall so that a couple hundred of kids can be grudgingly marched in to endure sitting on the cold and uncomfortable ridged benches. Made to sit through a speech or an assembly that they couldn’t care less about.
I sat, uncomfortable, feeling how sore I was even as I shifted my weight to try to find some way less numbing on my backside. I was leaning forward looking at the faces of the teens and trying to gauge their take on what they were listening to.
Listening.
I could hear his voice. Not quite like it was the last time I heard it. It was a bit deeper, stronger really is the right word for how it sounded to me.
Confident. His cadence in his speech was steady and smooth. My eyes trailed over the crowd and drifted to rest on him.
He sat on a single chair in front of the kids. Glasses, dark and classic frames. Simple and we’ll put together. Jeans, dark and crisp. Shoes, loafers that were shined and obviously well cared for. A button down shirt, tidy and pressed. Open just a bit at the neck with the sleeves rolled up immaculately. Casual and comfortable but well presented. Clearly thought had been put into how he dressed. A young man, tall with a lean build and broad shoulders. A wide grin with a bit of smirk to it as he smiled often during his talk.  Nothing less than I would expect to see. He always was attentive to his clothes and hair.

He held his hands loosely together on his knees as he leaned forward slightly while he talked. An easy gesture. He looked so at ease.
His voice though was what I couldn’t draw myself away from.

He was talking about the day he decided he was going to die.
The day that he made the choice to go through with what he had been wanting and planning for. He talked about the journals he kept that showed his spiral into defeat of his mental illness.

He talked about fear. His fear that he would hurt someone, or worse. He spoke of how afraid he was of what or who he would become as his mental illness grew. He told them of his fear of his own mind. How scared he was by the voices and by the thoughts that crept through his mind, unwanted by him but not able to be ignored. He told them of his terror that he was losing himself. He explained how deeply he believed, then, that the only option to make things ok was for him to be dead.


He spoke of giving up. Of just not wanting to ever wake up again. He shared that he held on as long as he could, until he just couldn’t anymore.
He told them how resigned he was to that day being the end. Not happy exactly but glad. He told them how he tried not to think about being found.  But that it did worry him, how it would affect the person or people who were going to. He told them about how he tried to make sure it wouldn’t be too bad for them. 
He read the suicide notes that he had written to his family. Saying goodbye and trying in some way to explain the “why”. Wishing them happiness. He explained how badly he believed that it was the best decision he could make.
He looked at them as he paused. He told them how mad he was when he woke up in the hospital. Still alive. And how happy he was that he made it. That he was still alive.
……….

I woke up from my dream then. Woke up from what wasn’t a nightmare but sure felt like it. Woke up from a now that doesn’t exist and never will. Because that day, Willie did die. He planned and carried out his decision and ended his life that day. There won’t ever be the now that I glimpsed last night in my dream. My dream that may as well be called a nightmare.

Tripping the tipping point

Without knowing how or when really, it seems that the tipping point has been tripped. A little slip of the balance shifting. Imperceptibly almost, slowly.

Somewhere over the last few months life has started to flow again. Somewhere over the last year actually, there have been more steps forward and fewer steps back. Somehow I find myself today realizing that the days have more happy hours than sad ones. So slowly this has happened that I didn’t even notice it.

Not a day goes by that I don’t think of what’s happened. Not a single day passes that I don’t silently wish that Willie didn’t make the choice he did and that he was still here. Not a single day finishes without my mind having played through the years past – the memories and the loss that hurts because of his death. Not one day goes by that I don’t scream inside at how wrong it is that Willie is gone. 16 years of his life lived and now just simply – gone.

But today I realized that I’m doing what he asked me to. I’m going on. I’m living still. Moving forward. Finding happy again and finding mySelf. Seeing a future where just a couple of years ago I couldn’t see through the heaviness of grief.

Missing Willie, learning to live without him has been the hardest thing – and the one thing I have fought most. Learning to live with grief and not let it swallow the rest of my life – even harder maybe. More steps forward, some steps back… but firmly striding forward at least. Finally seeing that the light is at the end of the tunnel, and it’s attainable.

So the tears happen. I don’t even try to stop them tonight. Mostly because now I see that while I still cry, I am smiling again as well.