Part One: She Allowed Me to Weep
There has been so much kindness following my son’s passing seven months ago. I’m still in awe of how much love and support we received. I’d like to share one act of kindness, in particular.
In the first hour of my son’s passing, I was curled up on the floor in a puddle, weeping – not wanting to let the words that had just been spoken penetrate my mind. EMTs and police stood above me waiting for me to “crack.”
It was then that my husband got in the car and went across the street to get our neighbor, Dorothy. Dorothy is the oldest neighbor on the street. She’s pushing 90 years old, and the dearest woman I’ve ever had the pleasure of calling my friend. My husband brought Dorothy to me.
I recall that somebody pulled a chair up to where I was on the floor and Dorothy sat down. She held my head and allowed me to weep. She stayed with me until shortly after my own mother arrived. I’ll always be thankful to my husband for that very insightful, loving support and of course, to Dorothy for her love.
Part Two: The Rest of the Story
“The Rest of the Story” was a weekly radio program hosted by Paul Harvey. It consisted of stories presented as little-known or forgotten facts on a variety of subjects with some key element of the story held back until the end. The broadcasts always concluded with a variation on the tagline, “And now you know the rest of the story.”
A few months ago, I wrote a story for Alliance of Hope titled, “Dorothy’s Love.” The story described my first few hours after learning that my son had passed, and how my husband instinctively brought my oldest, dearest neighbor and friend, Dorothy, to my side.
Someone had pulled a chair next to where I lay in a fetal position on my kitchen floor. Dorothy sat in the chair, held my hand, and stroked my head with her wise, nearly 90-year-old hands, not letting go until my own mother and a horde of family arrived. I cannot say it was her words, for they were not profound. I cannot say she offered words of instruction, for she did not. What Dorothy did offer, however, was her wise, comforting presence.
Now, here’s “The Rest of the Story.” Dorothy is a suicide loss survivor. Her only brother took his life some years ago. This tragic loss, this experience, has become a part of the fabric of her life. My husband was unaware that Dorothy had lost her brother to suicide when he brought her to me that day. His action came from knowing how much I deeply respect and love her as a friend and neighbor.
Dorothy and I have been neighbors for 10 years. We have shared celebrations of life when my two grandchildren were born, as well as death when her husband and my sister each passed from illness. Dorothy and I have shared many, many kitchen table conversations through the years. We have shared much laughter and untold tears.
It was during one of those kitchen table conversations that Dorothy told me of losing her brother to suicide. Her parents had already passed. Losing her brother left just Dorothy and her sister. She had shared about the initial shock, the sadness, and regrets. Mostly, she shared about missing her brother.
In her almost 90 years on this earth, Dorothy has endured several hardships, as you might imagine happening in that many years. But here’s the thing: Dorothy has not become who she is in spite of her hardships, but possibly because of them. I have no doubt her hardships played a part in making her the woman that I have come to know and love.
Dorothy is generous in spirit and love. She is quick to lift another up. Her love of family, friends, and life is tangible. I have never left her company without a kiss, a hug and an “I love you.” I am so blessed to have her in my life.
Since my son passed I have been keenly aware that each day I am making a choice about how I am going to survive. There were, and sometimes still are, times when I feel I do not have anything left to give, but then I think of Dorothy. She has shared with me about her despair after the loss of her brother, followed years later by the loss of her husband. Dorothy has shared with me the difficulties of putting oneself back together after experiencing great loss and emerging stronger.
I am so thankful that Dorothy was able to find her strength, and who else better, to be holding my hand as I lay on my kitchen floor.
“And now you know the rest of the story.”