Originally published in Jan 2019, pre-COVID.
First, I want everyone who has lost someone to suicide to know I’m thinking of you. At times when I’ve had moments of intense pain, I get an image of all of us. Some are newly struggling, others are further along, and there are lots of us kind of in-between. Wherever you are at this moment, there is someone here who gets what you’re experiencing.
Next, I just wanted to share about Christmas. My family has a traditional big family gathering on Christmas Eve. I cried, hid, dozed, did a few dishes, flossed my teeth, had some difficulty breathing, checked for gray hair. I wanted and needed to go for the kids and for myself. But, as time passed and the time to leave got closer, I found more things to do. Or not do.
- I didn’t get ready.
- I didn’t get the kids ready.
- I did brush one of the dogs.
- I did write a few Christmas cards.
- I didn’t pack up gifts to bring.
- I didn’t feel like eating.
- I did drink water.
- I did eventually start getting ready.
- I didn’t want to go.
- I didn’t like the way a new dress hung on me.
- I did like the way the kids looked.
- I did get the gifts boxed up.
- I didn’t want to go. Anywhere.
- I didn’t want to move.
The kids were dancing around, in and out. They looked expectantly at me. I told them to get in the car and I’d be right there, but I couldn’t move. After a few minutes, I thought “the kids are going to freeze out there!” Still, I couldn’t move. Christmases with my husband, some good, some not, were blinking through my head. Thoughts of the future almost knocked me down. The pain I felt in my heart was horrible.
Somewhere, a thought came to me: “Just walk to the door.” So I did. I got that far.
There were only so many choices by this time. Walk through the door or not. I was wishing the kids would start fighting or yelling so I’d have to go out the door. For once, they were quiet!
- I did open the door.
- I did get in the car and drive to the party.
- I did listen to music and finally got who “Parson Brown” was in “Sleigh Bells Ring” (thanks to my son’s labored explanation!)
- I did feel the starless sky pressing down on me.
- In between all of us singing off-key, I thought of the Star that led people to Bethlehem over 2,000 years ago. I still felt heavy-hearted.
I’d love to be able to tell you things went smoothly and I had a light heart that night and all day yesterday. I didn’t. But, I held the lighter moments like gold.
The hardest part was walking through that door. There were a zillion little things I did before and after that. By far, though, the hardest part was walking through that door.
So we all go. Taking all kinds of steps and walking through all kinds of doors. We glide easily though some while others seem insurmountable. But, sooner or later, because we are survivors, we will walk through every door.
It’s so good to know you are there as I see more doors waiting to be opened –when I am able. Mostly there are many mini-doors just in one day, one morning, one moment.
I hope you’ll take a few moments just to appreciate what courage you have in seemingly small moments. This next week will no doubt bring challenges that times of celebration bring. Let’s hold on together.