I've feeling a little sad today. When Aria was a baby, I started keeping a journal for her. I've been really bad about keeping it up to date lately, but today I started going through the old entries. It reminded me why I had started the journal to begin with and I think I need to bring that poor journal back up to date. In the meantime...one particular entry stood out to me. I debated sharing it with you; in fact, I never intended on sharing any of the journal entries as they are private letters to my daughter when she is old enough to understand the weight of the words written in them. This particular entry is most certainly not full of light and cheer. Please forgive me if this is something you'd rather not see in a blog about dolls; I know that it is not an easy topic. But its an important one. People need to talk about it more. Its the elephant in the room...nobody wants to talk about but talking is the only way to move through grief. And tonight...I'm missing someone pretty bad. Also, please excuse the inclusion of strong language in the letter. I chose not to edit them out on purpose.
As a warning, in case someone has experienced this recently and is not ready to read about it right now. This particular entry is about a friend who killed himself when I was 19. Normally I include links throughout the text or at the bottom of the post. But this time, I will provide links under this introduction. Please...Please...Please if you or someone you know is considering suicide....reach out for help. If you have experienced suicide in your life, reach out to family, friends, a support group...somebody, anybody... You don't have to go through this alone. In the U.S. culture, we seem to value doing everything on our own, we view asking for help as a sign of weakness....but its not. Being strong is knowing when you need help and being brave enough to ask for it.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
International Suicide Prevention Hotlines
Resources for those who've experienced suicide in their lives
The Elephant in the Room is a beautiful poem about the importance of letting those who are grieving the opportunity to talk about their loss, their emotions, and most importantly...the one they lost.
This letter is a revised version of one I
wrote in the handwritten journal that didn't go very far. I think you
are currently using said journal as a scribble pad.
Auntie Tina and I've talked about how a parent decides what and how much to
divulge about their personal lives to their children. We haven't come to
any conclusions as of yet but I think she would agree that this is an
intensely individual decision that every parent must make on his/her
own. I am leaning towards fairly full disclosure. I've made a lot of
mistakes in my life and have experienced some pretty undesirable things. While I'd prefer if you could go your entire life believing that your
momma has led a fairy tale life, I'd prefer it more if you could have a
better journey through your own life.
At the time I
wrote the original letter you were 6 months old. I had just found out
that Heather Hartley, a professor in my department had killed herself.
I'd taken a sociology of women's class with her and had thoroughly
enjoyed her instruction. She was witty and captivating as an instructor. And now she is the third person I know who has killed him/herself.
first and probably most significant was Barry Kantner. On December
16, 1999, my life changed forever. Its funny how quickly that can
happen. One moment you're going on with your life doing chores; mundane
crap and the next you're being hurdled through a maze of emotional
turmoil wondering if you'll make it through in one piece. That's how it
is and I can't think of a better way to describe it.
I remember the first day that I met Barry. He seemed all confidence and
cockiness with his Hank Williams Jr hat perched on his head and a pipe
hanging from his mouth. I had no idea that night that we would become
such close friends. Its funny how our lives are marked by incidents and
events; the smallest memories; its funny how a person can point to an
exact moment in his/her life and see where it took a turn.
about Heather's death brought up all the pain from losing Barry. To be
honest, it never really went away. It was always just below the
surface waiting to reappear. It always will be. But this time, this
time...was different. This time I had a mother's worries to accompany
I could say some crap about how Barry's death
taught me important lessons...about the fact that our lives are so
fleeting. I could say that he taught me not to waste time being angry
over stupid insignificant shit when I could be enjoying life and
spending time with the ones I love. I could say that he taught me how
much people love you even when you're not truly aware of it. I could
say all of that and for the most part...it would be true. There are
lessons to be learned in every part of life from the mundane to the
exciting; from the glorious to the tragic.
But mostly I
just want him back for one single fucking day...that's it. Just one day
so that I can wrap my arms around him and tell him how much I fucking
miss him and that it hurts so fucking bad. I would trade all those life
lessons for one day with my bear...and maybe these are not the words of
a wise person, maybe as a mother I should find something more
insightful to say to you about it. But the reality is that....I miss
That's it...I miss him.
How do I
protect you from these tragedies? How do I protect you from life's bumps
and bruises? What do I do if I think the answer to that question is I
can't? It scares the crap out of me. I want to show you that life is
full of opportunities for happiness and that dark clouds do pass. I
don't want to have to tell you that suicide means hurting those you love
the most or that choosing to end your life means you miss out on all
wonderful possibilities that could have been because I don't want you to
even know what suicide is. Right now, you are so full of spunk and
fire. And despite all the challenges of raising a child full of such
strong will, I hope you hold onto that fire. Because if there's anything
that will help you hold on when life is tough and has lost its shine,
Aria, I love you so much. Please remember that. Always.
If you've made it through the letter...thank you. Thank you for letting me speak his name. Thank you for not leaving me alone in a room with an elephant. Like I said, tonight
I'm missing him. I've already dragged out old photos and letters. He
left behind friends and family who loved him dearly. He left behind a beautiful son, a son that wasn't even
quite a month old and while I was never as angry with Barry as perhaps I should have been...that one point does infuriate me. Barry missed out on seeing his son grow into a
brilliant and admirable young man...a son that only knows his father through old photos and stories. The rest of us are left with fleeting memories.