treat it.

to everyone who has never been touched by suicide,

i get it.  i used to be like you too.  here are the most common views of suicide i either heard or personally held growing up:

that person is selfish
that person is crazy
that person is a coward
they wanted to die
they were depressed for a long time and finally went through with it
there are always warning signs, so people know it's coming
that it's preventable

there is this social stigma around depression, suicide, etc.  i can't tell you what it is like to not be able to talk openly about my husband's death.  to see people either openly or privately distance themselves from my pain, search for reasons that he did it beyond the fact that he was ill and we didn't catch it in time, connect dots that aren't connected.  all so they can convince themselves that they will never know the pain, and i honestly hope they don't- but it's possible they will.  i know people whose lives have been touched by suicide and they feel the need to lie about the way their loved one died.  honestly i get it, because i know what it feels like to be marginalized now, and it's not great.  in my own life personally i've had people tell me he was selfish, i've had people question elly's death, i've had people question my own personal actions in the days leading up to his death.  it's difficult- i get it.  we are surrounded by people who look for ways to distance themselves from pain and in doing so just bring damage to an already painful situation.

want to know the truth?  up until elly, we were happy.  we were fucking happy and content and in almost complete and total bliss with our lives.  there were stresses, sure, but we had our lives set.  there weren't any marital strains you aren't privy too, the night before his death there wasn't any fight that i am keeping to myself.

want to know another truth? suicide is not preventable, it is treatable.  and until this country stops stigmatizing it and stops putting the responsibility of PREVENTING a disease on survivors and the patients, there will be no change.  it took me experiencing suicidal feelings myself to realize,

normal people commit suicide
happy people commit suicide
life of the party people commit suicide
successful people commit suicide

want to know how this change is going to start?  it's going to start with your rhetoric, how you speak about people who are depressed, about people who commit suicide.  i'm not proud of the manner of jim's death, just as i imagine most people aren't proud of a cancer death- but i'm also not ashamed.  he was ill, we did not catch the symptoms, it cost him his life.

we need to focus our sights on treatment.  we need to allow those suffering from illness to be able to seek help without stigma.  we need to stop putting the responsibility of an illness on the people affected by it and raise our voice for change.

hold with high respect and a loose grip

when my whole family was alive, i had a contingency plan.  i don't know if it was just leftover fear from my mom passing away when i was so young, but i knew, if i ever lost all my family and i was the sole survivor i would sell everything, move, and spend a year training for an ironman.  i knew that type of mental and physical dedication would be the only thing able to save me after that type of trauma.

in a way, it's almost more difficult this way.  i am left badly wounded but also with responsibility.  only half my family is gone, the other two are still extremely dependent on me.  i am reading No Mud, No Lotus which is by a buddhist monk.  These are people that practice asceticism, no indulgences.  Most of us look at that and think "geez, that'd be tough, to have nothing" but in a way it is extremely freeing.  Most if not all of our fear, comes from attachments, to our possessions, to our family.  It is easy to be happy if your only attachment is to yourself.  Before I lost Elly, my biggest fear was losing a child.  I honestly thought there would be no way to live through it.  And it's funny because in losing my life in a way, I still have not lost everything.  Every day I have to practice being mindful of fears and attachments- after all, I still have more to lose.

This life is such a practice of high respect and a loose grip.  I can honestly say, it upsets me when I see an insect die.  I always tell Addy and Lane to let them be if they are outside in their environment.  Life is such a unique and fragile aspect, the putting out of a life is never something to be taken lightly- no matter what form it falls into.  Nature never repeats, and so that life will never come again on this earth.

Before all of this, my grip was so tight.  Anxiety, fear, they have taken their toll on me at different times.  About a year before all of this, I was doing well overall, I had realized the non-value of worry and generally spent most of my life with a positive outlook- but my life was also going pretty well.  My grip though, was tight.  My happiness was tied to my family, to my job, to my life.  The tighter we grip, the faster that sand falls.

In losing so much, there is a tendency to cling, to attach as firmly as possible to what is left.  But there is danger in that.  We cannot tie our happiness to this life.  Everything is impermanent.  What is here today is gone tomorrow.

And so with a loose grip, I unfold my hands and accept what is coming.  Breathing in, I acknowledge my breathe, breathing out, I smile.

tough love.

i was moping the other day.  just you know, generally complaining about my circumstances and life.  my dad looked at me and goes "you got that bird tattooed on your chest- live up to it"

this is why i have the coping skills i do.  because ultimately, our circumstances are beyond our control, but our thought process is in our control.  my present circumstances blow.  but my life does not blow and i still have a lot of miracles.  this refinement through suffering is tough, but it is not my life and more than that it is not me.  i am not my suffering.  sometimes it feels like i am, it's a constant fight to just break through.  break through.

this life is weird.  it's so fragile and difficult and unwieldy.  there are nuances and layers and intricacies that lay far beyond our control or understanding or thought.  it doesn't take much to realize our shortcomings with intelligent thought.  a misunderstood fight, a tragedy, we suddenly realize we don't know as much as we thought we did.

i don't know why jim and elly died.  i doubt i will ever know here.  i pray and hope that when i get to heaven that question becomes along the lines of addy asking me why pasta isn't a breakfast food- insignificant, unimportant, and clearly understood.

we are growing, we are stretching and we are starting to reach.

6 years

six years ago today, we met.  i showed up, looking like hell, saw your face and thought to myself "well... you should have dressed better"

six years ago today you caught sight of me for the first time.  i never got sick of hearing it from your perspective.  i remember when we were first together, i would lay on your chest and ask you to tell me it from your side.

six years ago today we sparked.  we spent five and a half years burning strong before being put out.

half the time i'm so mad at you.  as someone who literally never struggled with anger or physical violence in her life it's a strange sensation to just want to punch walls throughout the day.  you left me with so much weight.  the weight of now being the only one who knows what our daughter meant to us as her parents, the weight of that loss being carried day in, day out for eternity.  do you KNOW WHAT LOSING HER MEANT TO ME?  how it ripped my soul in two?  i can't even think about her without being overwhelmed with loss and sadness.  how badly i want to cradle my baby and see her smile and hear her coo.  oh what a weight to carry, oh what a weight.

the weight of my present situation.  a house where my daughter died, a house where my husband left me.  two kids who need me.  a life with no option but to keep going.  keep going keep going...

the toil of every day.  and you buckled.  i miss you love, you know that's where this anger is coming from right?  i miss you in every fiber of every being and i miss our daughter.  the one we created.  i miss her too, and it just intertangles and spins together with no room for breathe or thought or space.

my head and heart are at odds with everything.

six years ago today, jim.  six years ago today.