One month ago today my son Michael went to work, just like any other day. His father told him to please be careful and have a good day. (It’s what we say to each other when leaving for work) I can only presume how the day progressed. Her probably drove to work, perhaps had a customer or two, maybe he sold a car. At the end of his work day, he picked up a pizza and checked into a local (to the town he was in) hotel. He ate at least some of that pizza, I guess, I didn’t look in the box when I saw it the next day. He may have watched some tv, scrolled through his Facebook, maybe looking at his many pictures. I wonder about the thoughts running through his head. What was he thinking? At some point, one month ago tonight, he made a decision that has forever changed our lives. He took his life. Yes, I know, my last post told you that, so this isn’t news. Does that really matter? No, it doesn’t. What does matter is that my delightful, funny, sweet, thoughtful, sarcastic son ended his life. Ended his pain. He chose to release himself from a struggle he felt he could no longer deal with. He also left behind a lot of hurting people.
I’d like to tell you that, with a month under our belts, we aren’t crying every day. I can’t. I’d also like to tell you I’m not afraid that something will happen to my husband or one of our daughters, but I can’t do that either. I now live with a quiet fear that I’ll lose one of them too. Not in the way we’ve lost Michael, but since I can’t trust that there won’t be a reckless driver on the road with them, I worry that that reckless driver will take one of them from me. Sure, that’s every spouse/parents’ concern, but my fear has been multiplied by a million. Losing one of your children can do that to you. I trust them all to be safe. They know how I am now. They get it. I hope they don’t think I never worried before. I did. It’s just bigger now.
So, in this month, the month that both flew by and dragged, the world kept spinning. Everyone went back to work. Well, everyone but me. I am a hopeless lay-about. So while everyone else has something to keep their brain busy, I don’t. Sure, I can be distracted, but not for long. In mid conversation I find myself drifting back to him. I did that a lot this past weekend. Anything and everything reminds me of Michael. Stupid things, like when I needed something too high for me to reach. Michael was tall and just loved (insert sarcastic tone here) it when I asked him to get that thing down for me. He was never really comfortable with his height. I’ll never forget that. He’s there when I notice that his car, which I’ve claimed as mine, needs to be washed. Michael was fastidious in his care for his car(s). He would laugh, and roll those gorgeous eyes, when his father would say “it’s going to rain, that’ll clean my car.” (Michael, this is where I tell you that dad said that a few days ago. The streak of bird poop is still there. Epic fail). I spend at least an hour each day sitting with him. I play music from his phone. His taste in music was very eclectic, much like me. I smile when I hear some of this music, cringe at times, and cry too. Oh do I cry. It’s not just the music. It’s the everything. Knowing he’s so close, but I can’t touch him. Can’t hold him. Can’t hug him. Can’t comfort him. Can’t help him. I keep asking if he’s ok. I plead for a sign. This is where I really lose it. I tell him how sorry I am. How sorry I am that I didn’t know. Didn’t see. I’m sorry I wasn’t enough.
I know this is normal. Well heck, is there really a normal? I doubt it. This is my normal though.
So every day I visit him. Every other day I switch out his flowers. I’ve been cutting blooms from our hydrangea so he’ll have a little bit of home with him. He’s about a half-mile away from home, but it makes me feel better.
Another “normal” thing we’ve done is approve the artwork for his monument. We did that today. We also asked for his stone to be installed backwards. Not too weird, right. It’s so all of our names will always be easy to see.
I’m not particularly fond of my new normal. I’d like to wake up from this nightmare anytime now. Please.
I just handed this work in progress to my husband. He couldn’t read it. It was too much for him. Believe me when I tell you all that it’s too much for me too. How I haven’t cracked, how we haven’t cracked, is a wonder. We are all still beating ourselves up, wondering how we missed his pain. We all harbor some thoughts of guilt. As his mother, who spent so much time with him, I can’t stop thinking I, of all people, should have seen how depressed he was. In all of our talks, our drives, our card games, I missed it. He was so good, too good, at covering. At being ok on the outside.
So here’s my message to you all. Stop covering. Stop trying so damned hard to put on a good show. If you aren’t ok, if you’re depressed, speak up, PLEASE. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. There is no shame in asking for help. This is my new mantra. If you feel like your life isn’t worth living, SEEK HELP! Your life is most definitely worth it. YOU ARE WORTH IT. We all are.
August 14, 1992-August 6, 2016