Sunday, June 22, 2008

Life, Death and Sushiboy

My FolksI'm not sure how to start this post off other than to say it might be lengthy. Read on if you have some time. I think I've started and scrapped some version of this post a dozen times. I just didn't have the courage to write about it or post it. Crabacuracha posted her touching story about her relationship with her father and I was really inspired by her bravery and openness. Thanks LaC. Shortly after her excellent post I've had a few more brushes with death. The first, one of my best friends father passed on. Which, along with LaC's post, brought back many of the emotions and feelings I felt when my own parents passed away. Then someone I know took their own life, and that brought back the time in which I almost took my life, and how glad I am that I didn't.

I can tell you the exact moment that my mother died. I don't know the hour, minute and second, but that moment is memorialized in my mind. Mom was fighting her second battle with cancer, and this time there was no chance that she would beat it. Barring that, she fought with everything she had, largely, she admitted to me, for me. She fought, she lost her hair, couldn't keep anything down other than coca-cola, and endured the living hell that is chemotherapy so that she could be around a little longer for her kids. When she was dying she was fighting. The pneumonia which was drowning her, forced her to fight for every breath. As I sat by her bed, she kept fighting and turning to look at me. Deep down I knew this was it. But I couldn't admit it. So she fought. She fought well into the night, drawing ragged, raspy breaths and looking at me with the love of a mother in her eyes. When I couldn't deny the facts any longer, I told mom that she could let go, that I would be OK. She stopped fighting and looked into my eyes until her soul left her body. I saw her empty eyes, and I felt that special space of my soul that was hers hollow and drain from me. There isn't quite anything like accompanying a departing parent, other than witnessing the birth of your children. Though one is the deepest sorrow and the other the deepest joy, the experiences are very similar, an intense spiritual experience that only has come when another human soul arrived into or departed from my life.

Like most people who look into the eyes of a dying loved one, and promise they will be OK, I wasn't entirely truthful. In my mind, from that moment on I hadn't promised I'd be ok, I'd promised I would be perfect. And for about 10 years I tried to be perfect and beat myself down mercilessly when I fell short. In most ways the promise I made to my mom has been a good thing. It forced me to grow up and accept responsibility, and more importantly I finally believed what my mom had told me time and time again, "Sushi, You can do anything you put your mind to." Mom would look me in the eye and tell me this often. I'm not sure I really ever believed her until that day. Mom was right. I'm smart. I don't know how much I accepted that before that day. It turned me a round in a lot of ways. Confidence was not a quality I possessed. But one I which began to instill from that day forward, and was a key to any success I've had since then. My intellect (humble as it is in certain areas, like spelling) is my greatest strength. One of the defining things about me is my ability to absorb information by reading. I feel a lot like Hermione Granger. The first thing I do, when trying something new, is read all about it, and then I try it. And I'm good at it. Before my promise I rarely earned any A's, not so now. There are times that I collapse under the weight of my own expectations, and that, other than the grief, is probably the hardest thing to get over.

That being said, you may think that I became suicidal after my mother passed away, after I was failing to live up to my impossible expectations. Not so. I had long before that I would never take my life. For me the hard part was knowing these deaths were looming before me.

It's the rain that I hear coming
Not a stranger or a ghost
It's the quiet of a storm approaching
That I fear the most

Innocente: Delerium

Mom was diagnosed the second time, the fatal time, my senior year of high school. We were just forced to enter my dad into a nursing home because my mom and the family couldn't take care of him anymore. Dad had been withering under the effects of Pick's disease. It came as my mother and I were planning a senior trip so that I could see Yellowstone National Park for the first time, one of my mom's favorite places. That trip never happened. The rest of the world seem stacked against me. I hadn't been a good student and wasn't looking forward to college at all, I hated construction (which is what I was doing at the time), my sister was engaged to an abusive idiot (I'm glad she married Big Grizz' instead) and worst of all in the dreary sunless future, I could see the gun primed and aimed straight at my heart. When it went off, when my parents died, I didn't think I could survive. I was in a deep as a depression as I have ever felt.

It happened one day as I was driving down a country road. I was giving my little brother a ride. I had two severely handicapped brothers, and some people may think this was another strike against my life, but my brothers were two of the only bright spots in my it. My brother saved my life. My brother, who I had taught to walk, who I'd cheered for my whole life, who I'd loved like I love my son was sitting behind me. Almost without thinking I had begun to steer a Geo-Metro into an oncoming Mack Dump truck. I looked back at my brother to say goodbye, and realized if I went, I'd take him with me. I'd murder my brother. That shook some sense into me. I took my brother home and I thought for days on suicide. I weighed the issue over and over in my mind and finally decided that was the most selfish shitty thing I could do. Was I so anxious to end it all that I almost took my brother with me? What else would I have done? I would probably have killed my dear mother. It wouldn't have been the cancer that killed mom, it would have been me. She fought for me, she lived for me, and if I would have given up, I think the end of her life, as painful as it was anyway, would have been immensely worse. My life, as little as I valued it then, I realized had real and tremendous value to my family.

I can't judge those who do end up taking their own life. It's by divine intervention that I'm alive today. If my brother hadn't been in the car, I'd of probably smashed myself and that tiny car into the grill of that dump truck. (can you imagine the emotional effect on the driver of that truck?) I know what it feels like to have no hope, no light, no promise in life other than pain. If you feel this way you may be tempted to end your life, but DON'T. As I said before, I'm no dummy. I'm a pretty smart guy, but I just about made the worst, the most final awful decision I could have ever made. I don't want to preach how about how much pain you will cause (and you undoubtedly will) if you make that decision to take your life. What I will tell you is, life is better than I ever could have hoped. When I looked into the future all I saw was the loaded gun. Yes it went off, yes it hit me, yes it hurt like hell, but there was an entire life waiting for me on the other side. A good life. A great life. If you feel no hope. Get some help. Please. Now I can see what my life is, I wouldn't trade it for anything, but I had to take it on faith for a few months. For me it is Superwoman and the kids and the little joys that are sprinkled everywhere (like blogging). Your life may hold something different entirely, but it is worth living. And you are worth more than you will ever fathom.

I know good things
I know bad as well
any witness of the world can tell

If there is sorrow
there is beauty and trust
a secret pearl inside the heart of us

So, truly there is life and I wanna see
now that I know what I am living for,
Truly there is love and I wanna feel
Here in this world is were I wanna be
cause I cant cry anymore

Truly: Delerium

Mom's death, and then Dad's and each of my brothers that followed, were inevitable. Death is a part of life, its been a big part of mine. But in the end, the best parts of my personality, what makes me who I am, were developed while I was piecing my life back together.

The recent suicide, apart from the tragedy of it all, reminded me again how blessed I am to be alive today. Please, if you think life is too hard to go on, get some help. Life is hard, no doubt about it, but it is worth it. Live it!


BigSister said...

My Dear Brother,
I feel your pain everyday and though we hit the end of our proverbial rope at different times our experiences are so similar. It was so hard to let go of Dad before you could come home and see him again. There were some times when I wondered if the pain would end or at least let up. Thank goodness for the ones who love us and the Lord who watches over us always. I love you.
Big Sis

DadGuy said...

I've been in the suicide seat as well, though it wasn't driving. Thanks for sharing that on your blog, I'm sure it wasn't easy. Glad you're still around! =)

Teri said...

I think we've all thought about suicide at least once in our lives. Hopefully the love of others and what it would do to them brought us back from the brink.

I'm glad you made the choices that you did. I don't think your soul could rest knowing that you took a loved one with you to the other side.

I'm sorry you lost your parents so young,that your mom had to suffer, so and that you lost some of your siblings. Hopefully you're in a better place. Thanks for sharing.

Just Dave said...

I'm glad you stuck around, too. I had almost an identical experience with my mother. I was sitting on the side of her bed the night she died and told her she had nothing to fear from death. If there was a heaven, she would go there as she had been a good person all her life. If not, then there would just be a sleep without pain or fear. Later that night, I saw her leave as her eyes changed from looking at me to looking past me. I closed her eyes and kissed her goodbye. That was 9 years ago and I miss her every day.

Anonymous said...

I didn't realize you had posted this. I read and felt familiar emotions and memories. In my life, I have held a dead parent and child. NOthing compares to the pain. Those were the only two times in my life I seriously contemplated suicide. I can say that I have come out the other side a stronger, more appreciative person. I feel lucky for each moment I have with my loved ones.


Amy said...

I am also glad you are still around. This post made me cry and think.. and feel. Thank you.