I think it was Monday when I noticed that #SurvivorDay was trending on Twitter. I figured out quickly what it was and read through Tweet after Tweet, recognizing the familiarity of the pain of those left behind by suicide. Then, I really thought about doing what I usually do- which is keep it to myself. Never share, except with those very closest to me. It's not something that I've ever thought I could put into words, but for whatever reason, between those Tweets yesterday and one strange, beautiful moment over the weekend, I thought that now might be a good time to try.
(Maybe it's the weather or something in the air, but we're on our second welfare check of the day already. It's entirely possible that I'll write this post, read it, delete it and decide once more that it's not something that I can put into words. If you're reading this paragraph, then you'll know I decided to post it anyway. Because maybe some things are worth putting into words.)
So, Survivor Day.
I felt a tornado go by me once. I was in the library downtown and my ears popped as it roared through, carving a path of destruction through the rest of downtown, up Iowa Avenue and then out to the northeast. They sounded the all clear and we stumbled out of the library into darkness. There was no power. There were no street lights. Power lines were down all throughout the city. Gas lines were ruptured and you could hear them hissing in the darkness as you picked your way through the debris. Trees were everywhere. It was goddamn natural disaster.
So yeah, Survivor Day seems like a pretty accurate way to describe it, because suicide is a natural disaster for the people left behind. You're left standing in the rubble. Numb. Bruised. Broken. And you're not at all sure what to do with yourself. You run on automatic for awhile and eventually you come back to life, but everything is ever so slightly askew. Your universe is out of balance and always will be. That's really the hardest part to come to grips with.
"Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem." You hear this so much, but it's true. It may not feel like it's ever going to get better, but it will. It may take weeks or months or years or finding the right combination of meds and therapy. You can be better though. It'll take time, but you can be better. So, if you're out there, reading this, please stay.
It's been a few years, so it's different now. The rubble has been cleared away, the house rebuilt. But it's different. You remember what it looked like before. It'll never look quite right to you again and the grief surprises you, often in ways you least expect.
We gave Kelvin a haircut over the weekend. His bangs were hanging over his eyes again and he was looking like a miniature version of Davy Jones from The Monkees. We took the plunge and gave him a buzz cut- because when you're in a house full of boys, you may as well keep it simple and just have shearing weekends every so often. As I was sitting there on the floor, looking up at him, holding the towel around his neck, so he wouldn't get too itchy we were laughing at him squirming and giggling when it tickled. As more and more of hair fell to the ground though, an extraordinary thing happened. For just a moment, one beautiful moment, I realized I was looking at my little brother.