In a few months, it will be ten years since my son’s death by suicide. I might have some things to say.
I have a good life; don’t get me wrong. We live in a beautiful home in a wonderful neighborhood ~ historic houses, walking distance to almost anything you might want, lovely people. I have work which, at least some of the time, is meaningful and deeply satisfying. Our living children have done well in the aftermath of trauma. One can survive, and even thrive.
I wonder, all the time, who he would be now. I imagine whole lives for him. That MBA from Chicago, a business career, a home in Hyde Park, a cottage on a lake. The ballerina wife, the adopted Asian children. Or the loans paid off, the desertion of the corporate world, the worldwide pursuit of photography, the life on the road. Or the return to summer camp, the job with the farm and maintenance crew, the cabin in the North Carolina mountains, the wife and tow-headed children loving hikes and kayaking. Who knows? None of it will ever be.
I loved being the mother of three small children. I thought, at the time, that life could not possibly get better. It turns out that I was right. There will always be someone missing.
It hits me like the proverbial ton of bricks sometimes, usually inconvenient times. A conversation, a glimpse into another life, a scene on the television, an article in the news. I think I will die, but I never do.
Parts of me are missing. I see friends losing parents; I see their lostness, their deep grief. I don’t have access to those feelings anymore. I have been saddened by my father’s death 18 months ago, and I often miss him, but his death from illness at the age of 85 was not for me an experience that in any way resembled the shock and horror and excruciating pain I felt in every nerve of my body after the death of my son.
I am not an easy person to be around, or to be. I have no patience for the sentimentality that pervades so much of our culture of death. I try not to mar others’ experiences of comfort, so a lot of the time I muster a meaningless smile and endure until a conversation or event passes.
I do hope, but it’s hard.