Do you ever think about how you would commit suicide if your kids ever died? I do.
And I’m not suicidal, my kids are healthy and safe, and my life is truly blessed. But the fact of the matter is, I don’t know how I could live without my two boys. I don’t know why I would want to live without them. Is that strange? Are you picking up your phone to call the nut house and see if they’re missing a patient?
And anyway, that would never happen. It’s just a vicious nightmare from a mom who struggles with anxiety. Right? Right?
This weekend, my dear friend lost her son. He was six weeks old. I had just seen both of them that Thursday. He was happy, healthy, and thriving. Beautiful. Two days later, the unthinkable happened. Doctors don’t know why and will perform an autopsy.
The thing is, my friend is a good mother. She did everything right. She lives healthy, she is a good person, and she lives a loving life. She isn’t like the sick people you see on the news who overdose on heroin with their grandson in the car. She’s not a person who would put her children in harm’s way, as we see so many people who wind up in the headlines. She loved her son unconditionally, she cared for him fiercely, she would do anything for him.
She is just like me.
Last Thursday, I giggled with her about our sons being only four months apart. I swooned seeing her son wear my boy’s old pajamas that no longer fit. I gave thanks to God that I had such a great friend in my life to share this period in our boys’ lives together.
On Saturday, her son drew his last breath.
My emotions flutter between gratitude for my children’s’ health, to guilt for their health, to anger that something so unthinkable could happen to good people, and finally to fear. Deep, gut-wrenching fear that squeezes my insides and makes it hard to breathe. What if that happened to me? What if it was me, not her? And then, I go to a very dark place. I imagine the unthinkable and even take it a step further. How would I commit suicide?
And yet, the human spirit is an amazing thing. As a species, we have managed to overcome countless tragedies. The unthinkable happens to people every single day. People live through it. People cope, heal, and live to see another day.
I can’t control the future. I can’t predict how the future will look or feel. I can only stay present and be grateful for what I have now. And I can help my friend. My friend is grieving. Her life has been turned upside down. She needs my support and love.
Maybe that is how the human spirit endures. Maybe it’s through the support of family, friends, and the community. Perhaps when the unthinkable happens, people don’t think about ending their life because their community lifts them up.
When tragedy strikes, we have a choice. We can let it consume us completely, or we can mourn, reflect, rebuild, and grow. I hope tragedy never strikes me, or you, or anyone. But I pray that we, as a community, are always ready to help. I hope we’re always looking out for each other and determined to lift each other up. I want us as a community to always be out there with open arms to provide the support for the human spirit to survive. That’s what my friend needs right now. That’s what all of us need.