Sunday, October 31, 2010

It's Hallowe'en, my least favourite holiday.  At 4:57 pm I am still trying to muster the courage I will need to go to the door when the doorbell rings.  We will only have a few children coming around because we are a bit out of the way.  That's a good thing though, especially this year.  Today is Sunday, so it was church this morning.  I don't play as well as I did.  I'm not particularily aware of my mind wandering but my hands feel a bit like Tin Man's must have...not achey, just uncooperative.  I would step down but there is no one to take my place.  The sense of calm I used to get when I played isn't there right now.  I believe what I need more than playing at church is the meditative time.  Sometimes I long just to sit in a pew by myself with my eyes closed. 

When I got home from church today we drove out to the lake for lunch.  Tourist season is over now and the beach and walk around the sandspit were empty.  But it's the village the kids grew up in, at least until they were high school age.  The lake, surrounded by mountains speckled with the golds of the deciduous trees, reminded me so much of the happy days when everyone was safe and under my wing.  Of course, in reality, not all the days were good.  Many were tough as I struggled with my own mood issues.  But we were together; we were safe; we were a family.  And even though logically I know those days can never come back, emotionally I scream out for them.  I found myself wondering today if my son had not been cremated would he one day just come back.  The urn on the mantle is a harsh reality of his leaving, yet at the same time, the urn on the mantle keeps him with me every day. 

So, how to continue to cope. I have to be honest here and say that I am taking medications prescribed by my doctor. They keep me sane, keep me from doing something foolish, keep me from saying words I will regret speaking.  There will come a time when I can take less (perhaps) but for now they help.  Over the summer months I played in the little garden area of our townhouse.  The flowers were pretty and my daily trips across the river to the little greenhouse about five miles away got me out. 

I've just deleted an entire paragraph about things I do to kill time, to make the days tolerable.  But really, who cares.  The fact remains that I am just doing whatever it takes to get through. Days when I am determined to make progress invariably go sideways.  Why the rush to move on?  I don't want to move on.  That's not what it is.  There is an expectation from people that now, after eight months, it's time to be getting on with my life.  If I live another forty years, I won't get on with my life.  I am afraid that Michael, from wherever he is, will think I have forgotten him and I will never do that. 

It just came to me, that 30 years ago tonight, we moved into our house in the village on the lake, when Michael was 23 months old and we were expecting our second child.  How can thirty years have passed so quickly and how can this have happened to our beautiful child?  Did we take him out that Hallowe'en?  My husband might have taken him into his mom's.  I can't remember at all.  I do remember that it was a wet, cold night. 

Michael's candle is burning and I am just waiting for the doorbell to stop ringing.  I need to cry tonight.  That may sound odd but I do really need to weep for my lost boy.  I will find some music to listen to and perhaps post to Michael's memory page.  This isn't a very inspiring page at all is it?  But it's the way things are today. 

Saturday, October 30, 2010

"..what did I do? Did I die?"........ Michael McRae Feb. 2010

My son had parts of him that he shared with very few of us.  After his death I found some his poetry on his computer.  It is very dark, very personal, full of pain.  The title above is the last line of a poem he wrote in February.  I haven't reached the point where I feel I am strong enough to share them, but his writings demonstrate his need for some kind of respite from his terrible emotional pain. 

At Michael's funeral, our minister spoke of depression and mental illness.  Still, people differentiate between depression, mood disorders and mental illness.  It seems to be that there may be no stigma attached to the first two,  but as soon as the word "mental" is tacked on, then emotionally many just back away.  People are just uncomfortable with, embarassed by or unable to express any kind of condolence with anything "mental".  I know some people think, "Oh Michael.  Well, yes, he was mentally ill, you know."  Had you known or seen my son, you would have had no idea that he suffered from depression and a terrible fear of being abandoned by those he loved and needed (a major symptom of Borderline Personality Disorder).  He was handsome, funny, articulate, creative, professional in his work. Only those of us very very close to him knew the hell he was going through. 

I was the only person who believed my son when he told me he was going to kill himself.  Over and over he told me.  One of the last things he said to me, about a week before he died was, "You just don't get it Mom.  I AM going to do it.  It's just a matter of how, and when."  Five months before Michael died I told my doctor that I had accepted the reality of the possibility that I might lose my son.  Still, I prayed for help.  I tried making a deal with God, by telling him that if He would help my son he could have me.  I got sick over the winter and I though, "Yes!  God listened."  But God doesn't bargain as far as I can tell.   Many days in the last month I would drive to or from work and pray today wouldn't be the day that God would take Michael.  Yet, on the night that I walked in the front door and immediately saw him hanging from the noose he had made from an electrical chord and hung over the beam on the patio, my brain registered, "So.  It's come."  During the chaos with followed I fought that thought, praying the advance life support people could revive him, slapping myself so I would wake up, screaming at God and others.  Michael's sisters had had time to consider the possibility that he might not be strong enough to make acknowledge the possibility of his death..but for any of us there was no time to say goodbye.  His Dad and I said goodbye in the ambulance, where perhaps his soul might still have been close enough to have "heard."

But friends and family who had no realization of the depth of despair were left wondering how he could leave and not say goodbye.  At the end he was very tired and confused and terrified.   He did leave notes for some of us.  And he wrote his beautiful three year old daughter a long and loving letter which at some point when she is older, we hope she will understand.

This is a quotation from Night Falls Fast by Kay Redfield Jamison, "Death by suicide is not a gentle deathbed gathering; it rips apart lives and beliefs, and it sets its survivors on a prolonged and devastating journey."

Today has been an okay day, a day of distractions, of trying to keep my brain from going to the sad place.  I thank God for every minute I had with my son, but given the chance would argue a case with Him for giving him back.  I need my son.  I miss him so much.

Friday, October 29, 2010

The start of day 246 - not 176. Good grief.

I'm up, burning a candle for my boy and looking for music on YouTube to post to his page. Once I read something that said that anyone who didn't believe in God only needed to listen to music to become a believer. What, other than some higher power could give us the ability to create something so powerful..and so I feel that when my words might not reach Michael, the music will.

The past two days literally brought me to my knees; hence the title for yesterday's post. The pain wasn't just a pain of the soul; it was a physical thing, like having the wind knocked out of me and drowning at the same time. I've been trying to figure out what was different about Wednesday and Thursday. Wednesday was sunny, clear, quite cold, and there was fresh snow on Mt. Cheam. The day was very similar to days which followed Michael's death. Thursday was just a miserable day so reminiscent of the many days following the loss of our son.

Shock continues to wear off still and is replaced by memories which are painful. Moments frozen in pictures stored in my memory will suddenly flash into view. As yet, they aren't happy moments. They are snapshots of my son at very sad, lonely, frightened moments of the last two years of his life. And I am overcome by the need to protect him still, to take away his pain, even after death, and to make it all mean something.

Suicide leaves a wreckage of broken hearts and souls in its wake. So many questions which can never be answered hang on. All the "what ifs" and "if onlys" play back in my thinking. So, because I'm not an abstract thinker I make a list, two lists, actually. One says "What If", the other said "If only" and I start to write. The lists are long because they can go back until before Michael was born. I think I am just looking for someone to blame. We (my husband and I) blame ourselves. Michael was our child. God sent him to us to care for 31 years ago and he ended up taking his own life. How did we fail to protect our boy from the world?

However, I don't think it's the guilt which makes me want life to just stop moving forward. I think that's just grief. How can seasons change? Why do people still laugh and joke and have fun? Can't they see that Michael isn't here? Don't they understand that his life was so unbearable that he had to leave? I know logically this doesn't make sense, but there doesn't seem to be much logic in this kind of loss.

So, I work at pulling positive thoughts out of my emotional hat. It's all for effect but someone told me once that if you force yourself to smile every morning, even if you don't feel like it, it might become a habit. My positive thoughts focus on the ones I love. I will work at getting strong because they will see and will draw from that strength to help with their own journeys down this difficult road we are walking together.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

When life brings us to our knees is it to remind us to pray?

On February 25th I lost my beautiful son. He chose that night to leave this world by hanging himself. Michael was 31 years old, a beautiful, educated, articulate, sensitive soul. I am starting this blog as a way to deal with my grief; maybe to talk to other parents who have lost children, young or old; talk to suicide survivors (those of us left here after someone take their own life). I really don't know what to expect. I'm sure the site will evolve as I go along.