Tuesday, April 26, 2011

14 months plus

I had one minute of insight into Michael's suicide today and I can remember it to re-tell it but the moment has passed and the questions have started again.  This is how it went:

I had wanted to have a memory quilt made for Michael's daughter and I wanted something in his handwriting to her to photo copy.  The only thing she has is his suicide letter to her and I asked her mother if it would be alright to photocopy a line of it to put in the quilt and in going through papers to file Michael's income tax I found it.   The line reads "I will love you always and forever.  Love, Daddy" and then the date he wrote the later.  That date was 15 days before he killed himself and I realized that when my granddaughter is older she may ask why Daddy wrote a letter two weeks before he committed suicide.

I believe Michael had decided to take himself away from this earth, from his suffering, from the demons in his life unless one thing in his life changed and I believe he held out hope for that one thing until the late afternoon he died.  I think something must happen inside a person's soul when that time comes because he made phone calls but certainly to those he knew would stop him he didn't let on it would be his last phone call.  I do know he did let one person know what he was going to do and that person did nothing.  He made that phone call about ten minutes before he hung himself.  How I wish that person had called the police, the ambulance, us.....anyone...or said..."just wait five minutes, I will come over"...the phone call from Michael might have been one last call for help, or it may not have.  It may have been a "please take care of my family" call, I really don't know because I can never ask.  The pain would be too great.  I do know what triggered his decision that day, that hour, that minute and there is no blame to be attached to that.  But I wonder why the person he spoke to, the person he told he was going to kill himself, the person who knew he was unstable, didn't call anyone. If he had had another half hour I would have been home.  I can't stop these thoughts.  They drive me crazy, they give me nightmares.  they keep me broken.

I know this kind of thinking is common to suicide survivors.  Maybe the specifics vary a little but the unanswerable questions, by their nature, will never stop.  It was fourteen months yesterday that Michael ended his life.  Our pain is as great as it was the night he died.  I still wait for the phone to ring and every now and then I send an email to his account(s).  Please don't misunderstand me.  I am NOT looking for peace.  I am NOT looking for happiness.  I am looking for my son..I want him back. I will miss him with every fibre of my heart and soul until I join him.  But I will NEVER ever turn my back or ignore anyone asking for help.  In memory of my beautiful son who never turned his back on someone in need I will try.  Trying is better than not trying...I know I am rambling but my thinking is all over the place this afternoon. 

Will talk again soon.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Dear Michael

Dearest child,
A friend came up to me today and told me he had been looking at pictures I have of you on my Facebook account and my eyes filled with tears.  It is so sweet to hear someone else talk about you and to know that you are remembered.  You didn't believe that you mattered to anyone but you did and not only that, you were cared about by so many. I hope you can see and understand that now.  Maybe we didn't show you enough at a time when you most needed to know you weren't alone, but I think it's a lesson for all of us: we can't let too much time pass without letting others in our lives know they are important to us.  I believe we are here on earth to look after each other.  Sometimes it's so much easier just to walk away from the tough stuff.  In your last year, even though you were going through such a terrible time I watched you reach out to try to help and support a friend of yours.  Did I ever tell you how moved I was by the compassion you showed?  I was going to say I was proud of you but "proud" makes it about me, and that's not what I mean.  I mean I saw you and that "There is a good man, a good soul".   You were at your best caring for others. I wish you had felt that you deserved the same patience and compassion from yourself that you were able to share with others. 

I am having to face returning to work at a time that I still feel very fragile so I've been thinking a lot lately about how I'm going to do it successfully.  And as part of that I've been making myself listen to music of yours and reading your poetry.  This is the stuff that still brings me to my knees but I have to be able to get up, even if it means falling again. 

I treasure every second I had with you.  Mom's get longer with their children than Dad's.  I had you all to myself the nine months I carried you.   I find myself still trying to figure out ways just to get a little more time with you.  Can you feel that from where you are?  Or are you just gone now?  I can't bear that thought.  You live on in my memory, in my heart and in my soul, so you will never be gone.  You live on through your daughter, through your sisters who each have similarities to you. 

I wish you were here with us this Easter season.  This will be our second Easter without you.  I miss you so very much.

I love you and wait for you to visit me in my dreams.
Always and forever,

Friday, April 8, 2011


Today I planted a white azalea in the garden.  I hope it takes - it was a bit rootbound but I dug lots of loose soil and talked nicely to it so here's hoping.  I moved it from the little broken angel garden and now have the excuse to get something for that.  I'm thinking of planting a clematis at Michael's spot but suspect it's still too cold/wet.

Looking out the window just now I realized that I don't count the days since Michael left now.  I have the weeks numbered on my calendar: that we're approaching 14 months.  I don't want it to have been that long because I feel that we get further apart as the time passes. 

I'm reading another book on suicide survivors; it's called "Healing After the Suicide of a Loved One". I find a kind of solace in reading all I can about suicide because there is peace to be found in giving myself the greatest understanding of this terrible phenomenon.  There is a short chapter that has really hit home.  It's entitled "Grieving is Not Loving" and the premise of this is that so many of us believe/know that we grieve because we love.  Difficulties start when we find we have gone a minute, or an hour, without grieving.  Guilt quickly follows a period of happiness because we feel we are betraying our lost loved one.  We feel that all our memories of our loved one must be accompanied by sadness. Now, I haven't gotten to the point yet where I can remember Michael without sadness but that's not to say I don't remember happy times with him; it just means that right now, my memories of our son are accompanied by pain. I am starting to be able to make an active choice to fight the pain when it comes, not often, but sometimes, and I think this is a huge step for me.   Michael wanted us to remember happier times,  not the bad times, so that's what I try to do and I have to be honest and say that I would rather Michael be at peace where he is than back here suffering like he had been for the last year of his life. 

Maybe it's those picture that make it hard.  Those are things I sometimes wish I could forget, memories I wish I could just file away in my long term memory but they play like an old news reel.  Because I know what is in my head, I give myself permission to be gentle with myself.   I'm learning to listen to the little voice inside me.  It's the one that says, "You can do this or "it's okay for it not to be the right time".

One day at a time, one day at a time, one day at a time.....

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


My Bleeding Hearts are coming through the ground.  I'd forgotten about them.  I received them in a planter when Michael died last year and transplanted them under a little tree in the back yard.  I'm so glad to see them because I know they will always be there and they seem appropriate for the area where Michael left us.

The sun has come out. I'm not sure if it will last but oh how good it is to see.  It's been an emotional day because I've been  doing things and making decisions (trying to) that I've been putting off for months.  In going through paperwork in a file with Michael's name on it I found his suicide note to us.  Although I should know it by heart it makes me cry to see his handwriting, to read his words.  This stands out:  "please know that I am content with my decision"...Oh how I hope that he found the peace he needed.
He ends his letter with "I love you"  Michael.  I love you too Mikey.  Mom. 

Monday, April 4, 2011

Solitary paths

The clouds won't lift. I mean this literally and metaphorically. 
I find myself looking everywhere for Michael.  Why does the emotional part of the brain control the logical part? Maybe it's just part of "the process".  Or maybe it's only part of my process. 

That's one of the things about this road we are walking: we walk it in our own ways.  Our processes are individual, unique.  There will be commonalities, maybe a number of them, but each of us will experience this journey in our own way. 

My husband and I travel very different routes.  We're lucky because they are parallel paths but they are very different one from the other.  It's an effort sometimes to keep things level; it would be very easy for our emotional paths to cross back and forth.  Statistics show that a lot of relationships don't survive losses like ours, losses of children.  It's tough.  And, suicide is such a complex issue so filled with self-recrimination and questions that just can't be answered.  We both see counsellors and we don't question each other about those sessions.  At first we saw the same counsellor but my husband was trying so hard to make sure I was okay and I was trying so hard to make sure I didn't say anything which might be hurtful, if unintentional.  We haven't been able to find a suicide support group close enough to attend but that would be something we would attend together and something I would really advise anyone who has lost someone to suicide to seek: a support group. ( Doing an internet search under suicide survivor will bring up lots of information.  S.A.F.E.R. is one that we have dealt with by phone and email. )

For today, I'm giving in to the clouds and the rain and the cold.  Michael's candle has been lit and I'm going to spend the afternoon with my boy.