Saturday, March 5, 2011

Going Private

Desert Year is going private sometime in the next few days, as I try to extract and revise some of it for publication in another form.

If you are one of the folks who comes by and you want to continue to have access to it, let me know and I'll add you to the list.


Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Suicide Survivors: Handle with Care

A friend of mine lost her father last week. She was completely devastated, but her FB messages since have reflected her feelings of being tremendously loved and supported as she and her family have made their way through the plans, visitation, and funeral. And I've thought a lot about what she's written.

I realize, looking back, that we were given the same sort of generous presence and assistance when Chicago Son died.

I was unaware of the love and care that surrounded us. Oh, I registered it all in the sense that I mostly knew who was were when, and to whom I needed to write thank-you notes.

But emotionally? I did not feel loved or supported. I did not feel the comfort or solace of community.

I felt completely alone.

I think that the shock of a child's suicide is so great that nothing can penetrate it.

For, apparently, at least a couple of years.

What I want to say, to those of you trying to support those of us who have lost children to suicide (or, perhaps, to anything):

This is why we act so weird. We survive by being encased in a tough shell that we don't even know is there. When it cracks, the pain that seeps in is so great that we just grow another layer as fast as possible.

Don't give up on us. We're wedged in there, and if we survive we'll emerge someday. We'll be different, but we will come out.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas Message

I just posted this on my usual blog, but in case someone comes here and needs to read it:

It's three days before Christmas and I've just learned of the suicide this past week of another young man in his early 20s. I just want to say . . . it's hard. So impossibly hard. I am not sure that there is a more searing form of pain in this life. Although I was able to write of hope in my blog tonight, we are leaving town tomorrow for the third Christmas in a row, and I expect to be be scattering ashes into the Atlantic on Christmas Day. I am writing this so that you know, if you are a parent or other loved one reading this because your Christmas season has just been ripped away, along with the rest of your life, that there are others who accompany you. We may grow into hope, and into lives we never expected or wanted, but we remain heartbroken, and we know, as you do, about things no one wants to know. There is a light that the darkness does not overcome, but the darkness is very dark indeed. May you know that the love to which you once gave birth still flows outward and envelops your child, and may you be surrounded by people who will hang onto to you through the darkness.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

If You're Still Here . . .

and I guess you are, because I got a lovely note from someone this morning telling me so . . .

1) Please visit my Advent blog, if you haven't already, here.

2) As I responded to the person who was kind enough to write, I have finally begun to imagine a framework for a book of some/a little/most/? of this material, so I was thinking about going private while I figure that out. But if this meets a need, I can leave it open.

3) If you have any suggestions, the comments are open.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Holidays - Round Three



Others moving onward in the lives.

Numbness all worn away.

Reality is really real.

Think I need me a bottle of that good ole denial stuff.

Monday, November 1, 2010

All I Want

I am on a lonely road and I am traveling
Traveling, traveling, traveling
Looking for something, what can it be . . .

~ Joni

All I want is Josh. Not the Josh of my dreams, not the Josh of my memory, not the Josh of my imagination, not the Josh of my prayer.

I want the flesh and blood Josh of my life. I want him to go to work or grad school, I want him to marry that beautiful girl and adopt those Vietnamese children, I want to watch my tall blond son teaching his dark-haired boys and girls how to play soccer on the beach.

Why is that too much to ask?

Monday, September 6, 2010

Year Three: A Space in Which to Watch and Listen

I've realized from a couple of comments and emails that not everyone has made it over to the new place, so I thought I'd cross-post this one (which perhaps should have been posted here originally):

And so . . .

Late yesterday afternoon my son and I drove the few hours to my husband's hometown for his brother's retirement party. We stopped at nearby Chautauqua on the way so that I could purchase a gift for another party today and also the Barbara Brown Taylor CDs from the summer - a Sunday morning service, a Sunday evening Vespers service which has become a traditional time in which the preachers of the week to share some of their personal stories, and five weekday services.

BBT is one of the reasons I have just graduated from seminary. She was "introduced" to me a couple of decades ago by one of my stepsisters who was a parishoner of hers in Clarksville GA, and I've heard her preach several times at Chautauqua. I had planned to go for one of the week-day services in July, but found that that beautiful place, with its memories of summer after summer with our children and of the last time there, taking some ashes down to the lake on Thanksgiving night two years ago, was not yet possible for me. I had hoped to make one drive around the grounds yesterday, but it turns out that Chautauqua is also too much for my son.

Car rides with kids, even 26-year-old kids, are great opportunities for conversation. My son shared some of his feelings about this past week and his fears about the party toward which we were headed. I told him that my brother had called to express apprehension about my attendance at this event on this particular week-end.

As it turned out, Matt spent much of the evening settled into a couch with a cousin and some other young men he doesn't know, watching football on tv. I spent most of it sitting around a table with my husband's sisters and their husbands and one of their daughters, who's just started college. I watched the new babies and their families out of the corner of my eye, and here's what I saw:

The babies are beautiful and peaceful and never at a loss for arms in which to be held ~

The young mothers look very happy, a little tired, and at ease in their new roles ~

The grandmothers and great-grandmother are ecstatic ~

It looks (and I recall that it is) much easier to care for one newborn than two, especially when you are surrounded by extended family ~

No one shared birth stories with me, no one tried to hand babies to me, no one mentioned what it was like when there were two babies in the family 26 years ago.

Which caused me to wonder:

Do I exhibit a terrible stillness that renders me unapproachable? Are they sensitive to my feelings? Or are they just scared of the woman whose own baby grew up only to die?

Probably no one even notices. Perhaps it's only me ~ because I am so aware that if Josh were here, I wouldn't be able to get enough of those babies and their mothers.

And so . . .

I am thinking that two years ago I would not have gone near that party. A year ago I would have gone and been outside in tears within five minutes. Last night I made it through three hours and managed, I think, to appear quite normal. (Perhaps when my husband comes home tonight, he will offer a different impression.)

I see that this is a year in which to watch and listen, to absorb and reflect. I wonder at the randomness of it all ~ how my sister-in-law has a happy marriage, a job she enjoys, a beautiful home, three grown children, and now two beautiful grandchildren, and how she smiles and laughs. I wonder how many times I have been, in my own happiness, oblivious to the concealed pain of others. (I am not commenting on my sister-in-law or anyone else ~ only on myself.

Matt and I spent a lot of our car time talking about how much you share, how much you don't. What does he say to new acquaintances in law school? I am still stunned, he says, that my brother is dead, and by suicide. What do I say to new people, some of whom might become good friends and some not? How do I tell stories about my life?

I tell him that I have no idea. I tell him that one of my best friends is a woman I met on the first day of law school all those years ago, and that she became a person who immediately flew back from California when his brother died and accompanied me to the crematorium. But how would I have predicted any of that when we were young women studying law together? I tell him that some years ago she told me that she remembers in great detail the moment when we were getting to know each other over our morning cookie snack, a few weeks into school, and I told her that my mother had died when I was a child. It was a simple statement of fact for me, a stunning revelation for her. I don't remember the conversation at all; it is burned into her mind. What effect do our words have on people? I am a preacher: I should know the answer to that one. I find that I have no idea.

I tell him that I do not know what to tell, what not.

(This blog, form instance, is probably too much sharing. But in truth it reveals little of the depth of this experience.)

And so . . . watching and listening, and trying to figure out how to live. What to share because it helps me. What to offer because it might help others. What to keep to myself.

Year Three begins.