Sunday, June 5, 2011

18 Months Later

18 months.  That little fact just sort of snuck up on me a few hours ago.  You’ve probably noticed that I haven’t written in a few months.  I had gotten to the point where the fact of Mike’s death no longer traumatized me within the first five minutes of waking every day.  I was even able to observe the fact from a cushiony distance, able to talk about it matter-of-factly rather than with a knife stabbing my heart.  So what was there to say about grief?  The fifth of the month would roll around, and I would simply groan, not wanting to unpack it.  Next month I’ll write again, I told myself.  And before I knew it, four months had gone by without a new blog post.

This week has been different.  I’ve had an unspecific anxiety bubbling under the surface.  Too much caffeine?  Then inexplicably I burst into tears last night.  And then, today, remembering the wound as fresh as if it had been yesterday, only to realize today is the 18-month anniversary.  Why today should hurt any more or less than any other day doesn’t logically make sense, but there it is. 

We learn how to carry around a painful truth and still carry on with our lives. Within the past week I found myself having a conversation with Dolly about dance shoes, while simultaneously looking out of the window of the car, seeing the park bench where I sat when my parents told me Mike was dead, registering everything I’d felt at that moment for a split second, and then jumped back into the conversation with Dolly.  Later in the week I found myself at a school picnic saying the words “he died of depression” in response to a question about how my brother died, feeling the full impact of those words register in the listener and in myself, without saying another word about it.  From there, the conversation turned to cupcakes and carpooling, but the rest stayed in my gut. 

It is much more polite to say he died of depression than he blew his brains out with a shotgun, though both statements are true.

As I write this, my mom is driving cross-country and will be here in a few days.  She is moving to California to be closer to Dolly and me.  She is seeing through the plan that she and Dad made after Mike died.  It is bittersweet for her, of course.  She misses Dad so much and had hoped to make the trip with him.  She is driving across the country with her best and oldest friend, and with Mike’s and Dad’s ashes at her side.

Also as I write this, more than 2,000 survivors of suicide have just finished the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s Out of the Darkness Overnight Walk in New York City, where they raised over $2.5 million for suicide prevention programs.  I didn’t make it this year, but I hope to go next year.  Here in San Francisco, I feel very blessed to for the support I have found from fellow suicide survivor, and can’t imagine making this journey without them.

Despite the anxiety of the past week, things have been getting better. Perhaps the pain is more integrated now and that's why it feels less disruptive?  It's hard to find language to describe it.  As I've said before, I've relied heavily on my faith in God to get me through this past year and a half, and my faith has grown stronger as a result.  I used to spend a lot of time worrying about where Mike is now, what he is now, etc., but those thoughts no longer trouble me.  It would be nice to imagine Mike sitting on a cloud somewhere with my Dad, but that is not what I believe.  (Conceding, of course, that no one knows for sure.)  I believe God is energy, and I believe that is what Mike is now, too.  He is finally with God.  He is finally free.

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