There I warned you…maybe it is because I have been listening to the news more often now that I have finally given up the fight with Metro Rail and joined the rest of the work force that get to work on time by their own means, but there has been a lot of death going around in the past week alone.
The rhinos (may the person responsible for that get an itch in a hard to reach place and may his fingers be transformed into fish hooks), the fourteen school kids that died when their bus plummeted off a bridge (there is no other word than heart-breaking to describe that) or it may have been something to do with a conversation we had at book club on Tuesday night.
The story is not mine to tell, but the gist was what kids remember and believe about parents that passed while they were very young.
Usually I am outspoken about a lot of things, but this is one subject where I normally prefer to take the back seat and stay quiet. What is there to say? It hurts, it sucks that there is nothing we can do to make it better (even more so because we cannot prevent it) and unfortunately it is something that all of us have to go through at some point in time.
I come from a staunch Afrikaans “Boere” family and I have always thought that our downfall as a culture (at the lack of a better word) is that we don’t talk. Sure we speak, we can be very helpful and courteous, make plenty of small talk, but we don’t talk about the things that really matter, the stuff that we need to share with others to help them along their way, it is just not done. When we fall we are supposed to shake of the dust and move on, talking about it just reminds everyone. I have always believed that we face certain hardships in our lives so that we may learn something from it either for ourselves or for a friend, family member, sometimes even a stranger. That being said, sharing is much easier said than done.
I have written and re-written this post, trying to makes sense of it, trying to make it sound less callous (which is difficult seeing as the person this is about acted callous and senselessly).
When I was 7 years old my biological father committed suicide. He did it in such a grotesque manner that an open casket was not an option.
For a very long time after his death, I was convinced that the grown-ups had made a mistake, why would my father shoot himself, with a shotgun no less?
I had so many questions. How was he able to do it? Surely that cannot be possible? I had all these theories worked out in my head. Of course I now know that none of them were real or could ever be, the cold hard truth of the matter was that he was a coward and took the easy way out. There is simply no other way to view suicide.
I am not being glib or uncaring. I understand the ins and outs of depression. I too have had glimpse down that particular rabbit hole. I know the feeling of utter helplessness that envelopes you, you truly feel that there is no way out and even if you see the way out, you are just not able to summon the energy to get there.
I often wonder whether he considered us at all during those final moments. Did he realise that more than 25 years after the fact we would still be seeking answers, trying to make sense of it? Did he know that it would cause his kids to believe that they were not good enough, that perhaps if they had been better he would not have left them? Why weren’t we enough? That it would cause us to seek out relationships where we would perpetually feel unwanted?
I am not trying to blame all of my issues on my biological father, sure he was instrumental in my being here, but he was no father- for that, I was fortunate enough to have another very special man come into our lives.
Everyone handles death and tragedies in a different manner and I am not trying to suggest that it makes it easier when a person dies of old age or after a prolonged sick-bed, but it makes more sense to those left behind. The hurt is still the same, but at least it is not encased in a cocoon of questions.
The point I am trying to make is that it is such a difficult situation…impossible in the best of circumstances, and it becomes even more so because of the secrecy surrounding it. It is a giant scarlet “S” to be worn by those left behind and something that is not easily outlived, no matter how old you get.