The Pain of Suicide

2762342_origThe post on this blog (http://havokjournal.com/culture/i-wish-you-could-see-your-suicide/) says it all.

Suicide ends your pain, but those left behind feel that pain twofold. We hurt with the pain you endured where we couldn’t see. And we hurt with the pain your death & missing you causes us. I like to think that if you could have seen what your suicide would do to us you would have made a different choice. But I know that is just wishful thinking.

I think you knew what you were going to do, but none of us did. Even the sadness in your eyes the last time I saw you didn’t clue me in. I missed all the signs and I have to live with that every day. It’s a mother’s job to comfort and lift up her children, but I failed and it tears me up inside.

Sometimes I hurt so much I have a hard time holding it in. And, yes, I have to hold it in so I don’t frighten my coworkers or the family. If I let go I may never stop. I miss you and think about you every single day. I remember all  the calls we had and how we used to read each other riddles to solve. I remember the relief I felt seeing you come down off that plane after your first deployment ended. I remember the joy on your face when your baby girl was born. I remember holding you in my arms for the first time; your first smile, your first steps.

These memories all come flooding back every day and every day I feel my heart trying to mend, but there are so many pieces it will take a long time for that to happen. And until that day comes I will cherish my memories and wish with all my heart that  you were here with me.

I Don’t Write

journalI don’t write. I haven’t in longer than I care to admit. I don’t write because writing means I have to face all those jumbled up, awful, painful feelings that I want to keep locked inside where I don’t have to try to explain them or justify them to anyone.

I want to write. I sit down at my computer and try. I write blog posts in my head and I think about the main characters to stories I’ve been working on for years. But I can’t seem to let anything past the barriers I’ve erected. I can’t let  anyone else know that I still feel hurt and angry and grief-stricken on a mostly daily basis.

So, I go about my days with a smile on my face and spend time with my family and friends. I speak his name and talk about him when I can. I pray daily that the grief will soon pass to a level that allows me to face those feelings of betrayal (yes, I feel betrayed because he didn’t trust me enough to help him and he didn’t feel loved enough to confide in me) and anger (yes, I’m angry because he didn’t trust me enough to help him and he didn’t feel loved enough to confide in me) and overwhelming grief (because a mother should never outlive her child).

Some days are better than others. Those are the days I try to write. But nothing flows onto the page and my heart goes back to being heavy with grief. If I could write then those feelings might lessen. If I could write then I might be able to forgive him for what he did. And forgive myself for what I didn’t do.

But I don’t write. Until today. Today I write. And today I begin the journey to acceptance and forgiveness. Tomorrow I may go back into the grief. But today, I write.

Veteran’s Day

veterans-day-poems-11Veteran’s Day is a day set aside to honor those who have served our country during wartime. Most people don’t think much of it; it doesn’t really affect them in any way. But for those of us who have had family members fight in those wars or who have lost their loved ones either in theater or later due to injuries sustained during battles/skirmishes, the day takes on a whole new meaning.

Before James joined the Army and served in Iraq and Afghanistan, I never paid a lot of attention to the true meaning of the day. I went to parades and spoke to veteran’s, but I never really understood what it meant to have a family member serve. Now, I know only too well.

So many days spent praying he would survive and be ok. So many days spent waiting for him to come home safely. And I am so thankful he did come home to us. He survived and was ok for awhile. I am proud to say my son was a veteran. And I am proud to honor those other sons and daughters who served and came home safely.

Thank you to all the veteran’s who served. Your service means the world to us all. We wouldn’t have all the freedoms we now enjoy if you hadn’t put your lives on the line to protect all we hold dear. And for that I will forever be grateful.

Strength From Family

heart-pic“The tears I feel today
I’ll wait to shed tomorrow.
Though I’ll not sleep this night
Nor find surcease from sorrow.
My eyes must keep their sight:
I dare not be tear-blinded.
I must be free to talk
Not choked with grief, clear-minded.
My mouth cannot betray
The anguish that I know.
Yes, I’ll keep my tears til later:
But my grief will never go.”
Anne McCaffrey, Dragonsinger

Outward grief shows in the immediate aftermath of the death of a loved one. But most people, once that initial shock has worn off and they’ve made it through the hardest thing they will ever have to face, tend to go through the motions of every day life with their true emotional anguish hidden from the rest of the world. I can be one of those people sometimes. I smile and laugh and hide the tears, even from the ones I love.

However, I can’t completely hide myself from them. They know me. They can tell when my heart is aching or when I’m having a tough day. And they love me in spite of it. They tell me in all the little things they do for me, like doing the dishes when I just can’t, like bringing the babies to visit with all their noise and laughter. Or just by calling to check on me and tell me they love me. I appreciate those little things more now than I ever did before.

Thank you to my family and friends for loving me through my pain. For allowing me to shed my tears and feel my grief. For helping me find strength in your love and the will to keep going, for you. I love you all so very much.

Guilt and Grief

broken-heart“You can not die of grief, though it feels as if you can. A heart does not actually break, though sometimes your chest aches as if it is breaking. Grief dims with time. It is the way of things. There comes a day when you smile again, and you feel like a traitor. How dare I feel happy. How dare I be glad in a world where my father is no more. And then you cry fresh tears, because you do not miss him as much as you once did, and giving up your grief is another kind of death.”
Laurell K. Hamilton

It seems that grief and guilt go hand in hand when someone you love dies by suicide. Maybe you didn’t say “I love you” the last time you spoke. Or maybe you weren’t able to convince them that they were worth more to you than they could ever imagine, that no matter how you may have argued it wasn’t because you didn’t care, but perhaps because you cared more than they realized.

And that same guilt rears its ugly head when you are finally able to smile as the memories they’ve left behind wash over you. You feel as if you’re betraying them by moving on with your life instead of being prostrate with grief and unable to smile or laugh or get out of bed.

Sometimes I feel as if I’m a terrible mother because I don’t spend every second thinking of James or I don’t give in to that voice that says I should have done this or I could have done that differently. I know this feeling will pass. And I know its just the guilt baring its teeth at me like a rabid dog. And I know that someday I’ll be able to think of him and smile without feeling as if I should be condemned to hell for leaving the tears behind.

For today I will push through that guilt, acknowledge it, but not let it destroy me. Today I will remember James with a fond smile and tears in my eyes, with the promise that someday I will remember him with a glad heart that is guilt free.

And Time Marches On

timemarchesonimage250Today marks three months since James has been gone. Three of the longest, yet shortest months of my life. I’m feeling a bit emotional today and I’m missing him like crazy so this post may be a little bit of a cry fest, but please bear with me.

I notice now that I mark time by BJD & AJD (Before James Died & After James Died). BJD I would see something that I thought he’d like/understand and I would send it to him on FB or email. But AJD I see something that I think he would like/understand and I get that immediate feeling of grief because I can’t send him that funny meme or discuss that book with him. This happened on the way home from work just the other day and it broke my heart all over again to know that he isn’t here anymore.

It’s pumpkin cookie time and BJD I would wrap some up to send to him whenever I baked. Sometimes just to him alone because Kimberly and the kids don’t like pumpkin (crazy, I know…lol), but sometimes if he was deployed I’d try to send enough for all his buddies, too. And now, AJD, I won’t get to hear, “Where are my cookies, woman!”

I miss his smile and his intellect. I miss his pranks and his sense of humor. But most of all I miss the long discussions we had over books or writing. He loved riddles and we’d spend an hour on the phone trying to outwit each other with something like “I travel all over the world, but never leave my corner. What am I? – A Stamp”

Over the past three months I’ve spent a lot of time wishing things could be different. I’ve wondered what I could have done differently, or what I could have said that would have made a difference. And I know that there’s nothing that would have changed things because he was stubborn and a lot of times an ass. And his PTSD and TBI had him turned all kinds of inside out and upside down.

And over the past three months I’ve also spent a lot of time just wishing I could talk to him one more time. One more chance to say “I love you.” One more chance to stump him on a riddle or talk to him about the book I was working on or a story he was writing.

All of these things won’t go away simply because I accept the fact that he’s gone now. I’ll always want my baby back. But I know that eventually it will get easier to think about him and smile when I see that meme he would have found amusing or read that story I know he would have loved.

And time will forever march on. And I will forever measure that time by BJD and AJD.

Stories

james-gravestoneI was watching TV the other night and one of the characters said something that made me think. “The best way to honor those we’ve lost is to tell their stories.” So, that’s what I’d like to do. Tell some of the stories that made James who he was.

If you’ll notice in the picture of James’ headstone here, his middle name is Andrews. Not Andrew, as most would name their son, but Andrews, with an “s”. You see, I spent my whole pregnancy making sure I never put anything in my body that wasn’t good for my baby. I was already worried that the drugs my husband did would somehow leak into my baby, no matter if I took so much as an aspirin myself. Did I mention I was young and naive? 🙂

So, when I finally went into labor I made absolutely sure to tell the doctors and nurses I wanted nothing to do with any medicine that would ease the pain. I wanted it to be completely natural. So they abided by my wishes and didn’t give me anything. Until after the birth was over. Then they gave me a hefty dose of Demerol.

Back then the nurses filled out the birth certificate forms. They asked the mother questions, but the nurses made sure the forms were properly filled out, with the proper ink color and legibly. So when they asked my baby’s name (we didn’t know he’d be a boy until he was born. I wanted the surprise) I responded with the name we’d chosen, James Andrew Maum. James for my husband’s father, James Gordon Maum, and for my dad, Harold James Hollis. And Andrew for the sweetest, kindest, most loving old man I’ve ever met in my life, before or since, Andrew “Paw” Rice.

However, being under the influence of the drugs they gave me after he was born, the name came out as James Andrews. And apparently the nurse didn’t come back later to corroborate when I wasn’t Demeroled up. And the girl who always notices every spelling and grammar error in every book she’s ever read and all over Facebook, didn’t notice that her son’s name was misspelled. Not until I needed his birth certificate to enroll him in school.

I suppose I could have had it fixed, but I never did. So, he’s always been the boy with two last names. It’s been a funny story we always tell when his middle name is mentioned for any reason. He got his name because his mother, the woman who never did drugs in her entire life, was drugged out of her mind and slurring her words after she gave birth.

I’ll try to be better about posting here than I have been. Sometimes life gets in the way and my own emotions won’t let me write. But I’ll be back and I’ll bring a few more stories about James. And if you have any stories of your own that you’d like to share, please post them here in my blog comments. I’d love to hear them.