Last night was a weird night. All I kept thinking was, "Two weeks ago, at this time, Josh was alive." I was looking at my watch and remembered that his girlfriend was over for a couple of hours before dinner. Why didn't I sit down with both of them and talk about the future - what we could expect from the School Board hearing in a couple of days (most likely expulsion from FCPS), what our course of action would be, and encouraging Josh to hang in there until the summer, when he could hopefully find a job and spend the rest of the time hanging out at our pool with friends. (For those who are new to the blog, please refer to the following post to understand the circumstances surrounding Josh's death: http://rememberingjosh.blogspot.com/2009/03/our-school-board-hearing-experience.html).
At 10:30pm, I remembered that Tim had said that they were watching TV and Josh was appeared to be quite relaxed while playing with our two dogs.
Around 12:30 am was the last time that I saw my son alive. He was still watching TV and drinking a Sprite and I told him to go to bed so he could get up on the early side (11 am) to get some school work done. Why didn't I sit down, hug him and ask how he was doing?
I know that many young people are reading this blog and I have wondered if I am being too open and honest with my thoughts and emotions as I struggle with his death and in particular, the mode of this death, suicide. But then I think, "No, this is real. This really happened. They knew Josh, many have been in my home and hundreds came to his service. I want them to know how difficult this is on a parent. I've told several of his closer friends, Don't ever do this to your mother." I think they listened and heard what I was saying. I value their feelings, so until I get comments or emails from these young adults asking me to censor my posts on grieving, I will continue.
As I have posted previously, I am trying to understand Josh's thinking that horrible night. I believe that to comprehend even a little bit, I will have to understand more about suicide. If I had struggled with this personally, I would have a frame of reference with which to think about this painful topic. However, I must admit that I am almost void of this (although not entirely, as I did fleetingly think about it the day after Josh died).
My neighbors have been wonderful; bringing meals over every night so I would not have to deal with the mundane task of preparing dinner. Yesterday, I returned a bowl to someone and as I shared about how much I was struggling to understand what happened, we ended up talking about suicide and what Josh might have been thinking. She thought that during that night, this option must have seemed to be not just the only thing to do, but the right thing to do. Of course, I and everyone who is thinking clearly knows in the heart of hearts that there is nothing "right" about taking your own life, but then, in that moment, his mind had to have been somewhere else.
I have been pondering what she said and want to ask those of you that are part of this special blog community and have some experience with suicide, to help me understand this. I have been touched by those who have bravely posted comments about their own personal struggle. Can we continue to help one another? Can you tell me where someone's mind can go? How does someone in the midst of that pain, chose life? How can a young person, who is not fully mature in their thinking, process this deep, dark place and make a better choice? Where can young people turn to, if they are not able to talk to their parents?
I would be so grateful if we could have open and honest dialogue on this topic. The pressures on our young people are so vast; academics, athletics and social. I want them to have a safe place to seek help or answers and to know they are not alone.
On another topic, I wanted to share about the enormous range of emotions that engulf me - sometimes all in one day. On one extreme, I am completely numb - my heart, my mind and my soul. You could yell at me, kick me, slap me and I would not feel it. My eyes are completely dry and I feel nothing. His death does not feel real and I have a hard time comprehending that he is gone.
At the other extreme, I am so emotional that it feels that every cell in my body is a nerve that is feeling this pain. It is overwhelming and more than I can bear. I have to stop everything, stare at something and just weep. My shoulders shake with crying, my nose is running and I can barely breathe. I would do anything to have my son back - even at the expense of my own life.
Then I feel anger. So angry that I want to take a kickboxing lesson or class so that I can kick and punch a something until I hurt myself. I am so angry at him for doing this - it makes no sense and it is such a waste of a young, vibrant life.
So I vacillate between these emotions with varying degrees of each, in-between. It is exhausting. I have been contacted in various ways by those who are like me - have had a child who has taken their life. It doesn't matter what age the son or daughter was; as most parents know, your kids never stop being your kids, not matter how old they are. I confess that I have not been in touch as I do not feel the energy to have these discussion just yet. However, if you are reading this post and are comfortable, perhaps you can write a comment and share something from your experience that you feel would help not only myself, but others as well.
I have been reminded of a couple of things during this painful time. One, we are not alone and two, we need each other.
Please continue to keep the Anderson family in your thoughts and prayers - we are strengthened and encouraged by them.