The Impact That We Have

You never know how something you say can affect a person. This is one story of that truth.

I was back at work for the first time since my son had died. I worked, managing a fitness facility on-site in a corporate environment. My job was one where I saw the same people, day in and day out. I was at a number of sites with the company that I worked for, but this day I was at what was one of my “home sites”. A place that I had been at for over 6 years and one that I knew everyone by name. Aside from managing the site, I also worked the desk, taught classes, did one on one training sessions with clients and generally was around, a lot. My nature is one of being very open and sharing. I talked about my kids and life and connected with the people in the gym. They shared about their lives and kids and spouses and the usual banter was always ongoing. Many of the people in my facility were more than just clients in a sense, I had known them so long and we had shared so much. I may be an introvert but I love connecting and I loved my job and my sites.

I had missed work and even though I knew I wasn’t up to teaching, I wanted to get back to trying to have some sense of normal after Willie passed. So, about a month after, this was my first time back. The plan was for me to come in for a few hours and just see how it went.

Just before the lunchtime rush started, the first few regulars started to trickle in. There was the awkward, not-sure-whether-to-ignore-the-obvious encounters. I smiled and went along with it. There were the openly almost weeping sad, pitying faces that I hated more than anything at that time (and still do). I hugged and cringed inside and got them on their way.

Then there was one of the regulars, I am going to call him Sam. Sam was someone who was quiet and polite. He had been a regular and we knew each other by name. We had chit chatted but he had never been really talkative beyond the standard level of polite conversation. He generally kept to himself and, while never rude, was never one to actively reach out to start a conversation either.

This day he came in and walked to the desk to sign in before going to get changed and start his work out. He was clearly a bit taken aback to see me and he smiled and said hi, like he always did and he signed in. He paused a bit but then just turned and went into the change-room. I let out a breath I didn’t realize I had been holding and realized that maybe this was not such a great idea to have come into work.

A few minutes later, Sam comes out, towel and iPod in hand. He starts to walk past the desk then stops and turns back. He asks if he can talk to me for a minute, in private.

What Sam shared with me with was this: He didn’t know details, just that my son had died, by suicide. He didn’t want to know details or what had happened. He just wanted to tell me that it wasn’t my fault. He said that ever since he had heard, he had wanted to reach out but wasn’t sure if he should. He shared that he had been a teen that had struggled with depression and suicidal ideation. He had wanted to die. His parents had told him how much they loved him and how it would get better and that he would be okay. He told me that, in those times, it didn’t matter to him what his parents said. What anyone said. He said that he made it out of that and he is alive and glad that he didn’t kill himself. He said that what I needed to know was that it had nothing to do with his parents. That they didn’t stop him, they didn’t help, they didn’t impact it. That if he had killed himself, it would not have been because of lack of them trying or it not being “enough”. He wanted me to know that he had been how my son had been. He wanted me to know that it wasn’t my fault.

He was shaking and holding back tears while he talked to me. We both were. He shrugged and ended with a simple “there was nothing you could have done, it’s not your fault” and he walked away.

I was more touched by this than he could have known. He probably still doesn’t know.

He wasn’t someone saying they knew how I felt… he was someone sharing how the other side of this loss felt, in a way that I hadn’t thought of.

I can’t imagine what it took for him to open up and share that part of himself. I hope he knows, somehow, just how much it meant to me, and how much it still does.

The connections we make and have mean more than we are aware of at times. We may think that a kind word or action (or a harsh one) has no impact but we are wrong. Don’t hesitate to reach out, it just may make a difference more profound than you imagine.

Thank you “Sam”, and I’m glad you made it too.

Words are not easy today

So instead of new words, and thoughts, this.

It’s World Mental Health Day today. A day that is to bring awareness and understanding and support for mental health issues. Instead of the writing I had thought about doing on change and needs and the like, a little something different.

So many people I know struggle and live with personal mental health issues or the impact of those they love who have their own battles.

Today, words are coming hard with emotions on their heels so I’m pulling some older posts that tell what I can’t today.

Hold each other today, in our hearts and souls and bodies if you are able to.

 

https://truthfreedomjoy.wordpress.com/2013/12/26/inside-the-mind-of-mental-illness/

 

https://truthfreedomjoy.wordpress.com/2016/02/01/did-you-know-2/

That Makes Sense

I dreamed of you last night. You were younger than you were when you died. Not by a lot though. You were like you were before you got sick. You were being silly and a little bit of a sarcastic trouble maker. You were teasing your brothers at dinner. They were the age they are now though. Not the age that they were when you died, or the age you were in the dream.

You noticed. You turned to me, a laugh still on your voice, and asked me: Why am I only 12 years old? Why aren’t I older, like I should be?

Why am I only 12? Why am I sometimes 5 years old, or a baby, or 10, or 16? Why?

I smiled at you and said simply that it’s because you’re dead.

You are whatever age you are in our minds when we are thinking of you, when we dream of you and remember you.

Sometimes you are 16 and at the end of your life, angry and sad and unreachable. Other times you are that little boy who held my hand and sang silly songs as he walked beside me grinning as I laughed at you. Sometimes you are even what you never will be, the young boy grown into a man.

You looked at me and suddenly you were 16 again. Dressed like you were when I said goodbye for what I didn’t know was the last time. You shrugged, like you did a lot back then, and you smirked and said that it makes sense. Since you’re dead.