Today, in the midst of a sky-high pile of academic demands, I paused to remove my name from a parents-of-suicides email list.
I've been on the list for several months and, even though I receive the mailings in digest form, there are 10-20 of them a day. Sometimes many more.
I haven't read them often, but I've read them enough to learn a lot and realize a little beyond myself how much pain this kind of loss produces.
Discoveries of bodies. Autopsy reports. Clueless and insensitive family, friends, and co-workers. Depression and despair. Financial and legal disasters. Physical pain. PTSD. YEARS of immobilizing anguish.
I have been more fortunate than most.
Such an odd thing to say. Most of that inventory I know from personal experience. I came to a baffled and angry halt for several hours on Saturday, and woke up today in a state of almost complete despair. But before, in between, and after, I had productive periods and good conversations with friends ~ all of which I consider major triumphs.
I have realized over the past few months that I have had a huge thing in my favor. Despite my waiting and expecting it to happen, not a single person has confirmed my worst fears to my face by saying, "You can't do this. You couldn't even keep your child alive; for sure, you cannot be a minister. In fact, you can't be anything at all, ever."
No one has said it. (Of course, maybe they think it all the time. But it seems not.)
I have become grateful for some of the silence that has surrounded me; it seems to underlie an assumption on the part of others that I can, in fact, move forward in my life.
And so: I'm off the list.
The fact that I am the mother of three beautiful children and one of them is lost to me remains the predominant factor in my daily existence. I struggle all day long to accomodate it, and, as far as I can tell, I dream about it all night long as well
But I can balance other things at the same time now, and that's what I want to do.
(Painting: Anthony Pegg, Woman at the Window)