02 February 2009

Left Behind

Last night, as I was sitting in a comfortable living room watching the Super Bowl, my phone beeped to let me know I had a text message. I ignored it at first, laughing with friends as we played several spirited rounds of “Scattergories.” A few minutes later, I flipped my phone open. What I read took my breath away.
“Mom n dad are in. (A family friend) killed himself.”
I could feel my face slacken as I digested the message’s terrible content. The person in question was the young son of family friends. He’d gone off to college this fall, having shown us all in the years since his birth that he was an incredibly talented person. Now, there are only questions. After I read this text message, I could not help but to stare at my seven-week-old daughter and wonder what it could possibly be like to comprehend that she could one day be taken from me by her own hand. I cannot possibly fathom how parents in this position can go on after such a terrible event.
I am no stranger to suicidal ideations. Even as an eight-year-old, I was fascinated by the sheer drama in the concept. This grew in romanticism as a depressed teenager. I never seriously considered, planned, or tried it, but I knew it was an option, which, in my darkened state at the time, brought me a measure of cold comfort. Only now, years later, do I look at that behavior and realize how impossibly hurtful it must have been to my parents. I understand now, after having the smallest glimpse of parenthood, how hard it is to not be able to comfort a child. In the eyes of a parent, getting a kid through high school cannot be that far removed from comforting them in the middle of the night as an infant, and when that can’t be done, it’s painful for both parties.
When someone commits suicide, they take their own life - but they also take parts of other people’s lives with them. I know our family friend’s parents will never be the same. I know the boy’s two sisters will likely never be the same. I can imagine that they will be haunted by the thought of “Why? Could I have done something to save him?” for the rest of the lives. Will they be able to look back at the boy’s life without a case of “Monday morning quarterback,” wondering if otherwise trivial events could have taken him one step further down the road to the unthinkable?
My thoughts are with a beautiful family today; a family that has gone through many things together, only to be faced with a situation no family ever should.
The first thing I am going to do when I get home is kiss my daughter. And never let her go.

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