Monday, November 08, 2010

It's been a long time ...

Hey guys and gals. Yeah, I know I've said time and time again that I'd be posting here more often, and I definitely have meant to. Unfortunately, it's been a hell of a year and with so much stuff going on, the blog kinda took a back seat to life. And believe it or not, at different times over the past eight months, I've actually been at the very point I am now ... staring at the "New Post" screen and trying to figure out the best way to talk to everyone about what's been going on, but never coming up with the "right words" in my mind. Today, though, I'm just writing the words as I see fit. Trust me, there's a lot to catch you up on. And while I don't know how many of you out there still read this, I do want to say this is probably this most heartfelt and (to me) important things I may ever write.



Let me start off by telling you guys a story. My birthday is April 1st. That's right ... it's April Fool's Day. You've got no idea how many times people have tried to prank me on my birthday or rub it in. This year, in the waning minutes just before my birthday, I was sitting in front of my laptop wrapping up an article. Sure enough, not long after the clock struck midnight, my cell phone rang. It was my sister. After a long night of writing, I really wasn't in the mood for a goofy "HAPPY BIRTHDAY!! I called you first!" sort of phone call ... so I sent it to voicemail. A few minute later my dad, who had been staying with me at the time, knocked on the door to my room. Again, I thought he was planning to poke his head in and say, "Happy birthday." What I heard instead floored me:

"Christy just called me. Your mom shot herself in the head."

...
...

I thought for a second that maybe it was some sick sort of joke, but honestly as soon as I heard the words, I knew it was true. It took a minute to absorb what I'd just heard though. I mean, I'd just seen Mom the day before and picked up a bunch of cookbooks from her. We'd talked for some time and she let me know about some things she was irritated with, but by the time I left, things seemed good. And yet here I was, hearing that she had just put a gun to her head and pulled the trigger. She was on the way to the hospital, where she was hooked up to a ventilator, but for all intents and purposes, she was already gone. My sister and I talked for a bit on the phone, and although we were all in the same city, she specifically told me to stay away from the hospital. This might seem bad in print, but in reality it was one of the most caring things my sister could have ever done for me. She knew about the issues I have with hospitals (it's almost a phobia of mine) and she knew there was absolutely nothing I could do. She asked me to call and let some family know what had happened, but to try and get out and do something on my birthday so that I didn't have a lingering memory of sitting in a sterile hospital and having to see my mother's lifeless body.

That day was filled with all sorts of phone calls I'd have rather not had to take. It's hard to gauge which calls were worse, the ones from people offering their sympathies over my loss or the ones from people who didn't know and were calling to wish me a happy birthday. I actually posted on Facebook that my mom had passed and that it wasn't a joke, just to help stem the tide of birthday messages. After all, while I certainly appreciated hearing from everyone, I knew many people would feel like crap if they were upbeat and happy, and heard later what happened. I tried to make the most of the day, and even spent a few hours at the zoo (thank you, Michele), but there wasn't a lot that could be done for me at that time.

Right about now I need to make a statement that some of you may not understand ... but others in a similar situation may understand all too well. I loved my mother because, well, she was my mom. The problem is, as a person, I really didn't like her. I know, I know ... "De mortuis nil nisi bonum" ... "Speak no ill of the dead." It's just that my mom had serious issues. She was an alcoholic and had issues with drugs. She was self-destructive and had some serious emotional problems as, but never accepted help. She wanted to pretend that nothing was wrong, or blame others for her actions. Eventually, I had a difficult decision to make. I had to walk away from things or be dragged down by circumstances and situations beyond my control. And so, I chose to put a buffer between myself an my mom. Sure, I was there to listen to her and I never abandoned her, but I wasn't going to try and save her either. I knew I couldn't do it. And once I realized that I had to accept the statement I said earlier. I would always love my mother because she was my mother. But at the same time, I didn't have to like the person she had become.

None of that made it any easier to hear that my mother had committed suicide. I was a maelstrom of emotions. I was hurt, naturally, by the thought of what had happened. I was also angry because it was a selfish move on her part. There's a theory that says a person who attempts suicide is usually crying out for attention. In my mother's case, she wanted the attention, but she didn't care if she was around to actually get it. My mom always thought there was more beyond this life, and she talked about how she would see everything going on after she ultimately passed. And with the combination of my birthday and Easter that following weekend, it was a time that would make the biggest impact on the most people and leave a sort of flashbulb memory that would force all of us to remember her. It felt like a giant "Fuck you" to everyone, and I was righteously pissed off about it. Then there was the guilt. After all, I had just talked to mom the day before. Did I miss something? If I had said X instead of Y, or if I have changed just one thing or made one different phone call, would she still be alive today? I'll be honest ... that's the hardest pill for me to swallow. On a rational level, I know that there was nothing I could do to change things and that it was her decision to do what she did for the reasons she did. But on an emotional level, I still wake up some nights wondering if I could have done anything.

I could go on and on about how my mother's suicide has affected me this year. I can talk about the hurting, the anger, the guilt, the days I pick up the phone and remember that I can't just call her anymore to see how she's doing. I could talk about all the missed opportunities and how despite her issues, I miss having her around. I could even tell all of you that the one bit of solace I have is that, no matter what, at least she's not forced to deal with her demons every day anymore. I could talk about all of that, and I probably will as time goes on. But right now, all I can say is that a piece of me broke that day ... and it's been taking a long time to heal. I do have a message for everyone out there, though. If you've ever considered suicide as an option, don't. Talk to someone, ANYONE, and try to get some help to work through things. Suicide is a selfish and permanent solution to what is usually a temporary issue. Some of the best advice I've ever gotten actually came from a comic book (Malibu Comics' Firearm #5, written by James Robinson, if you want to be precise). In it, the main character tells another person who had been contemplating suicide, "Don't give up on the chance that tomorrow things could be better. 'Cause as often as they don't ... sometimes they do." It's a simple line from a comic book, but it's a statement you can genuinely live by. You see, the longest any problem can possibly last is 24 hours. After that, it's a new day and a new problem. You need to take life one day at a time and never give up on what tomorrow might hold for you.

Okay, so there's more to tell, but right now I need some food. And honestly, I need some air. This is a heavy load I'm putting out there for you guys. I thought about posting all what's happened in one long post, but I think this subject in particular needed to stand alone. I'll continue with more "catching up" later today.

2 comments:

Ira Mency said...

xoxox to you
Cindy

Brad Foxhoven said...

I cannot imagine such a experience...my thoughts and prayers go out to you and your family. You have some great insight into it, and I imagine sharing this was somewhat helpful on an emotional level. Good luck, and keep living your life.