"It's as if a great bird lives inside the stone of our days and since no sculptor can free it, it has to wait for the elements to wear us down, till it is free to fly." Mark Nepo

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Another Battle Lost


The soldier handed my sister-in-law the triangle of a flag he'd just moments before pressed against his heart, thanking her for her son's service to his country. As I stood in the damp and cold Pacific Northwest winter air, leaning into my seated brother, trying to offer him warmth, I reflected on how we found ourselves in this place just a week into the new year.

Joe, 26, always troubled, often trouble, bright and charismatic, put a gun to his temple while his girlfriend was upstairs in a friend's house, and killed himself on the first day of the new year. My brother and his wife came home from their Christmas travels to the news of her son's death.

The shock of Kathleen's death had just begun to scab over when Frank shared the news. Two suicides in one family, weeks apart, both by young people who had every resource at their disposal and who were loved.

Joe had a military funeral because he served in Iraq. His service there was neither exceptional nor exemplary. His life was neither of those things. Yet his funeral was packed with people who loved him, whose hearts were broken by his death, whose lives are left with huge holes because he's gone.

I have no answers. Only questions. And deep deep sadness.

I wonder at the pain these two young people were feeling that made living seem so unbearable. I wonder at the paradox of them trying to numb their pain with drugs and alcohol, yet those substances smoothing the road to their deaths. I wonder how they could not feel enough love to ease the pain and make staying worth the struggle.

And that's what makes me the saddest. They were loved and they couldn't feel it. They were not alone, yet they got so lost inside, they didn't understand. There were choices, many other choices than the one final and irretrievable one they made, and none seemed possible to them.

I know pain. I've experienced my share of suffering and loss. I've considered taking the path Kathleen and Joe did. I come from a family where alcoholism (both maternal grandparents), suicide (my biological father, the one I never met, shot himself on Father's Day) and denial (my mom escaped into dementia ten years ago with no obvious physical explanation) are standard methods for escaping pain.

Yet here I am at almost-sixty, healthy and thriving. The pain of losing my only child eased by the love and connection I feel from every single person in my life. I don't know why I'm here, and they are not - all those who chose oblivion over the messy wonder that is life. I only know that their passing leaves me with a more tender heart and a renewed determination to shine what light I've been given as brightly as possible.

34 comments:

Stacy Crawford said...

My thoughts and prayers will be with your family too. Thank you for being a light to this soul so far away!

Wanda said...

I love your light. It is bright and pure. My heart is with you, beloved friend.

MangoPeanut said...

Deb I can't think of any words. Just sending more love and more love and more love.

See you soon
JL

Bernie said...

Oh, Deb, for you to have to bear so much pain makes me so sorry. It isn't fair but life isn't fair I guess. You have so much to offer the world and that is why you have such a light to share with others. I shall pray for you and send all my good thoughts to you. I wish I could do more.

yaya said...

Deb,I wish I had the sweet words of a poet and could find a comforting phrase, but all I can offer is a prayer for you. I'm so sorry this new year has only brought sadness. You are a wonderful light and example of true strength. Your family is so lucky to have you and hopefully some peace will heal you.

Retired English Teacher said...

Oh my God, Deb, I am so sorry to hear of another tragic loss. You are in my heart and prayers. You are not alone, and neither am I. I draw strength from you. Living is a choice. I intend to make it my choice and to live well while I am at it.

#1Nana said...

It's impossible to make sense of a senseless act. Is our suicide rate increasing? It sure seems like it...if the cyber-world is any indication. There's such a thin line between life and death and one bad moment, one bad decision has life ending consequences...so many of us have almost gone there.

My thoughts are with you and your family...keep your light shining brightly. It may be the beacon in the storm for another weary traveller.

Carrie Link said...

Oh, my God, wow. So much for one family. I think it goes back to what Amber said in a previous comment about it being part of each of their stories.

Love, love and more love to you, my friend, and to your whole family.

Barb said...

Keep your candle lit, Deb, even when it is flickering. You have much to offer and also much to gain. Hugs to you.

B. WHITTINGTON said...

Stay strong Deb. It's those of us who love deeply are often the most hurt by these tragedies. I don't understand the loss of a child and I don't understand suicide. We can only stay strong for those around us and keep shining our lights so others coming along behind us can see their way clear to keep coming, to keep living, keep getting up every day and moving on. Love. How do we let those we love know it. We must every day in any way we can. God bless.

Wanda..... said...

Words truly fail me, Deb...there are no words that can ease such pain. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family...may you find some comfort in each other.

Patti Lacy said...

Deb, I just talked to another friend about HER brother's death. I am SO, so sorry that these world's troubles have piled up at your door.

May God truly give you the peace that passeth ALL understanding.
Thank you for sharing. You will be in my prayers, Deb.
Blessings, Patti

Sandi said...

Oh, Deb, it just never ends, does it? I love your ending though, you feeling a new determination to shine your light (sorta paraphrasing). I feel that, too. That determination that regardless of the choices people make, myself included, there is that determination to go on, to rejoice in life and living, and stand grateful and also humble as a tiny part of this world.
We have so much to talk about, and so much to celebrate. I'm looking forward to our day in a couple weeks! Love you bunches!

Teresa aka JW said...

This is too much tragedy for one family. Deb, my heart is breaking for you. You make such a difference in this world, please stay.

I don't know what to pray for, but God knows what you need. So...I am praying!

T

Donna said...

I can't even tell you how awful I feel for you!! Such sad shocking news...I can only hope you have wonderful friends who are supportive and helpful, and a strong faith. People who take their own lives are ill and their illness is as very real as a physical one. It's more hurtful because all around are those who cared. This illness will not let others in...it acts alone, and that is the hardest part.

Please know there are prayers and hugs coming from Ohio!!

Leslie said...

Deb, I have a history of suicide in my family, also, and it leaves it's mark for generations...I am so sorry that you've had so much sadness lately. SO thinking of you, right now....

Suzy said...

I am so sorry-

You are loved and held.

Suzy

Lilith said...

I'm so sorry Deb, for both you and your brother.

Kristen Torres-Toro said...

Deb...

Wow.

Praying. Won't stop. So sorry.

Midlife Jobhunter said...

"Yet here I am at almost-sixty, healthy and thriving"

Yes, and you will continue to do that. My thoughts are with you.

Ann Best said...

To be determined to share Light and to be positive is your gift--to yourself and to those around you! My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

Quay Po Cooks said...

Deb,
I marvel at your strength and your positive attitude towards life. You are a light to us all and I know you will shine brighter each day of your life. I can't think of any words to offer to help ease your pain. HUGS!!

Kathryn Grace said...

There is simply no way to comfort such losses. I pray for strength for you and your family, and for all who loved these beautiful souls. May somehow, some way a miracle of comfort be given to each of you.

Linda Hoye said...

I am so sorry for your losses. There are no words.

Pam said...

Deb,it's difficult to put my feelings into adequate words after reading this.
I'm finding it hard to say what others have said so well,and so beautifully. I join them in their expressions of sympathy,support and love.
May you find much comfort in those who care and strength in the heartfelt words of support. My heart goes out to you and your family.So sorry for these losses.

colbymarshall said...

You guys have been dealt so much at once. Best wishes and prayers for you

Terri Tiffany said...

I am again saddened by this news and the loss and grief your family is going through now.
You can be that light to those around you by your words and being who you are. I can already see that from the way you share.
Will be praying GOd leads you in the coming days.

kario said...

I am so pleased that you have managed to find your way through the darkness in your life. Your strength in facing it and sitting with it are absolutely remarkable. I feel sadness for Kathleen and Joe, but I truly believe that they know they were loved by everyone around them. The trouble was that they couldn't find that love for themselves. They are watching from another place and will have another chance at all of this, should they choose.

Love.

LauraX said...

Deb, I am so sorry, I just stopped by now. There are no words I can offer that could begin to ease your pain...But YOU are so clear, shining your light from the depths of your loving heart. I wish I could sit with you for a while and just inhale some of your pain, take it away, like tonglen and breathe back to you healing...I will do this from afar, but I wish I could by physically present for you. ♥

Anonymous said...

I am so saddened to read of your losses. I am thinking of you and praying that you will be comforted.

Julie K.

Jessica Nelson said...

I often wonder why someone who is loved can not feel love. And sometimes those who are not loved, at least not by many for one reason or another (say an orphan), become strong and thrive.

I'm so sorry about this second suicide. What a horrible time for your family. :-(

Keeping shining that warm light of yours. I hope it comforts your family...

Jerri said...

Oh, dear God. Oh, Deb. I have no words. All I can say is that I love you, as do many. You and your entire family remain in my prayers.

Holding you in the Light.
love.
j

Anonymous said...

Good Lord. *sigh*

I also don't understand it. Why is it so HARD for love to be felt by some? I am thankful you feel it, Deb. And I am so so sorry for all this pain.

Amber

deb said...

may I offer my silent reverence .

peace be with you ,
and all of your family.