People Who Complete Suicide Should Never Be Judged…

I had originally written this as a Face Book status, but decided to share it here as well. We never know what is going on in the mind of someone who dies this, but I do know this much, for whatever reason they could bear no more–and should not be judged by some standard set by those who have not walked a mile in that person’s shoes. That being said, here is what I posted:

” Those who commit suicide should not be judged. My stepmother completed suicide in Sept. of 1978. She had more going on than a lot of us knew. She was truly mentally ill. She had actually became the different personalities that possessed her. One of those personalities loved to point the same gun to my head that she shot herself with. THEN it hit me when a year or so passed that it could have been me. She also had problems so severe that she was medicating herself beyond belief. Not all people kill themselves over the same issues .When I came to understand the hell that mental illness can cause another human being as an adult, it became much easier to forgive her. As a child I was unable to understand the depth of her torment. Some people can hide their torment rather well by channeling it differently. It is too bad that many hide it well but never truly overcome it. We have lost many a great talent due to this. RIP Robin Williams. “

I am not saying that he suffered as my stepmother did (before anyone starts in on that idea). I am simply pointing out that no one ever truly knows the depth of suffering one who does this goes through at the time they complete the act.

I’ve heard people talk about those who commit suicide as being “selfish” and such.  That is farther from the truth than Earth is from Pluto. It is more accurate to say that  those who do this tend to seek a permanent solution to what could be a non-permanent problem.

I’m convinced if my stepmother had received treatment–proper treatment–she may be alive today. She could not overcome her illnesses and demons on her own, so she escaped the only way she could see to do so.

As for Robin Williams, he fought with his own demons for years. He also learned that he was suffering from a debilitating and potentially (and often) deadly illness. In my opinion taking his own life in his mind and in others who are now aware of this is anything BUT selfish. In fact, I feel that in his mind he was probably trying in his own way to not be a burden to others as his illness progressed. He chose the means and way to go, and completed the act.

Now that this has been revealed, I have asked myself, “If things ever came to that would I take my life?”

The answer is “No. I wouldn’t.”  Why? “Because I would never want my family to suffer the way I did after Judy took her own life.”

I also have some very good reasons to hang around and here is one of them:

Here’s the Lil’ Man–My grandson…And he just turned 2.

 

 

 

Kevin with Football

A Club Nobody Wants to Join…

I have been down for the past 2 days.  Depression over losing a child 28 years ago set in and it will pass, but what brought it on should not surprise anyone.  A friend of mine lost her daughter two days ago. She was waiting for a heart transplant. It is quite different to lose an older child but the pain is the same for us both.  We will never get to see our children’s “what might have been” and there will always be an empty space at the table.

For a while people seem empathetic and will listen to us. They will allow us to cry on their shoulders for a bit, but if they have never been in this unique club, there comes a day when they stop listening and we are left to deal with the wreckage alone. They do not know how to deal with our pain so they say things like, “You need to get over it.” or “You need to come back to the living.’  Well god forbid they ever have to join the membership of this club because then they will know the reality of the situation. Some even go so far as to say “You can have another child.” OR “You have other children.” Excuse me, but NO CHILD replaces a lost child. One can have 10 more children after and they still mourn the one that is lost. Believe me…I KNOW this for a fact.

Every would-have-been birthday is greeted with the utmost dread.  Every Christmas, Thanksgiving, etc…is greeted with thoughts of “what might have been”. In short, losing a child is a pain we never recover from–we just learn to deal with it in our own way.  To this day I cannot attend funerals of children/babies.  It literally tears me to fucking  pieces and nobody understands why. It is simple–it brings up my pain that I am still dealing with after 28 years and I feel so bad for the other parent(s) because having been a long-standing member of this god forsaken club, I know what they are in for in the long run.

If you want to help or understand a grieving parent, try not saying anything. Just listen. Wipe our tears when they come. Whatever you do, don’t say things like those mentioned above. While well-meaning they actually cut like a bloody knife.  I apologize for my language earlier but I am NOT having a good day today. I don’t know if I will have a better one tomorrow either, but at least I have a pillow to cry on and can be there for my friend as she needs me.

 

Yes, People Kill People But….

Look, I do not talk about this a lot. Yes, I DO support the right of EVERY law-abiding citizen to own a gun, but mental health in this country has to be addressed.  I’m not into all this gun grabbing crap a lot of people are trying to push for,  but I see nothing wrong with flagging people who have severe behavioral disorders from getting a gun. If people are arrested for domestic violence, robbery, assault, etc…they should automatically have their guns confiscated also until found not guilty–and if found guilty, they should not be returned to anyone in the household, but sold to cover costs incurred by the county and/or state.

I do not agree with the extreme left on this issue because they give off a perception that they do have a goal to take ALL guns away, or at least many of them do. However, these violent groups of people have to be dealt with.

I do not think it is that much to ask for. I’m not advocating limitations on all guns or gun sales, just to individuals who have such records.

Had such a system been in place in the 1970’s my stepmother might not have blown her brains out when I was almost 15. Was she mentally ill? Yes. We found out AFTER her death that she had been institutionalized. Her favorite thing to do when my dad was at work was to point that .22 that she killed herself with and put it to my temple as her method of “discipline” which was nothing more than terrorism in my home.

To this day, people, I can still feel the cold end of that gun at my temple. Sometimes I wake up dreaming about it. It was only after she died that I realized that this wasn’t just a surrealistic nightmare I lived in, but that she could have, at any moment, blown my brains out and anyone else’s in the house too.

Unless you lived through it, I know you can’t relate to it and more went on than that, which I will not discuss. Funny thing is I didn’t really realize what “normal” was until I got around “normal families” that sat at the table together and such after her death. I grew to pity her. Hopefully, she is at peace. I forgave her long ago, and despite the nightmares I have once in a while, I can still feel pity for her and understand that she could not help herself–but that the state failed to help her a long, long time ago.

I will say this much for those who have gone through something like this at the hands of a mentally ill relative or person close to your family. What helped me was to forgive her. Once I did that, the nightmares gradually happened less often, and became less intense. I actually stood over her grave about seven years ago and told her that I forgive her. Anyway, I hope that does help someone out there. I know forgiving her did help me.

When There is No Justice, There Are Tears Without End

Today I am charged with writing something about my best friend.  This is the hardest post I ever had to write. Why? Because she is dead. She has been dead for years, but in high school she was my best friend. She knew everything about me and never shared it with anyone.  To this day I  still wonder why her killers got off with only a 7 year sentence when it was clearly premeditated murder. Had I been able to attend the trial,  I would have raised hell to the media about how HER character was put on trial rather than the actions of the bitch that pumped the bullets into her body.  She was lured out to a desolate road, shot and left for dead. The last conversation I had with her, we talked about my boys and such. Then she said she had to go to meet someone. That was the last time we ever spoke.

So what ended up happening? To make a long story short, they didn’t find the deposit. I guess they were high on drugs or something because they tore the rest of the car apart looking for it from what I am told. So what is there to say? My memories were of good, clean juvenile fun we had and a few in-depth discussions. Ironically I never met her father until well after she died.  She and I would talk for hours on the phone just BS’ing.  He remembered that. I remember the pain in his eyes. I remember seeing his tears fall as he relayed to me his thoughts about losing his only daughter.  Losing a child is a pain I can relate to, only I lost mine due to troubled pregnancies.

And as my eyes are now welling up, I can say no more–except this and that hope she is at peace, even though she got NO justice. Here is part of a song I wrote for her…Her name is Leslie.

“Childhood Friend”

“..Childhood Friend…Why have you gone out to play in all the rain, again?

Leaving me alone, your memory to defend to the end.

God it hurts so bad but I miss my childhood friend…”

I cannot write anymore.  I still miss her after all these years. I guess you can tell just from what I wrote above where the 2nd line came from…But she is dead and cannot defend herself. The person I knew is not the one the defense lawyer for these murderers tried to portray. That I do know and will go to my grave knowing it. I can tell you this…Not once did she ever try to offer me drugs of any kind–which is what the defense for these ass clowns tried to say she was doing in her free time to make THEM look a little better, I guess.  Given my childhood, which most who know me personally are aware of–if she were offering anyone drugs I would have been a prime candidate for self-medication back then just to escape the bull crap that went on in my life.

RIP Leslie…I still miss you, kid…

I also have an aunt who was murdered…They never found who did that either…Either way, Leslie got no justice and my aunt’s killers are out there and it sucks.

We Spend Our Lives Doing TWO things: Becoming and Dying…

I know this sounds bleak in a title, but it really isn’t. It isn’t fatalistic either.  Is it just possible that we spend so much time trying to work on others that we forget where our focus really SHOULD be? I think so. That is why I opt for brutal honesty. I know I can’t change a damned thing about the past or the future because those are two things I cannot control, but I can control how I react when put in a certain spot.

I nearly got killed tonight. No kidding. Some bonehead decided to slam his brake when NOTHING was in front of his vehicle. My son was driving and we were going the speed limit (75 mph). He swerved to the right and fish-tailed.  “Ease up on the brake and stay calm.” Shit! I don’t know how that came out of my mouth, but it did. He swerved again to the right and fish-tailed again, then over corrected. This resulted in being spun around across the freeway and landing in the median. He tried to start the car and it wouldn’t start. “Brian, put it in park.” Once he did, it ran fine. No damage to the vehicle and more importantly none to us or my dog!

I don’t know HOW I managed to stay calm during that crap, but I was shook up when it was over. I said, “Let’s get the hell out of this ditch and go home!” and we did.  It was a miracle that he didn’t hit another vehicle, and more importantly, that we are alive.  He was laughing a few minutes later, and made a comment about reliving “Too Fast and Too Furious”…

I looked at him and said, “Brian, that is not funny to me.”  I think he was just grateful that we were alive and that is how he handled being shook up.

Either way it could have turned out very differently.  Brian and I are working hard on improving from within, and then this happens. It just goes to show that in an instant, the world can be changed for our loved ones. When we got to Kevin’s house (my other son), I gave him his birthday presents and hugged my daughter-in-law and my son. I held onto my grandson for a bit as well.  Let’s just say it gave me a new perspective on things this time of year, but  in the end, are we not all born to die?

Better yet, didn’t Beckett describe it best?, “…We are all born astride a grave…”?

I’d rather die working on the person I’m trying to become, than to regret the person who is now dead that is my past being,  OR  meet my future being who might be a bit more cranky than this particular incarnation of me in the present…

And how was your weekend?

 

On a Not So Special Day…

In October of 2000, I remember going to Eastland Cemetery in Eastland, TX…I found my way to the woman whose suicide I blamed myself for many years…She wasn’t famous.  No one heard of her except the locals who knew of her tirades.  Her name was Judy.  She was my stepmother.  For about 3.5 years, I endured much at her hands but it was on this day that I came to one stark realization.  She could not help her mental illness.  In the last two weeks of her life, she thought she was four years old, and that I was her mother.

For years after her death, I kept asking, what if I had done this? What if I had done that.  The fact of the matter is that it does not matter, especially now. There are two things nobody has control over besides life and death and those things are the past and future. Neither can be changed. However I spent much of my 20’s trying to run from the memories of what went on in my home during the time she was with us. It was rather violent. I got shoved into walls, cabinets, picked up and thrown into one once–and those times were on the days when she wasn’t too pissed off and went off on EVERYONE.

Do I hate her? No.  Do the memories of a pistol getting pointed at my head still haunt me? Yes. That is probably why I never owned a gun. However times change and I do often think about obtaining one now. Please, if you’re into gun control, don’t preach at me. My family hunted for decades and before that my ancestors did also.  Not everyone who owns a gun is a nut-case.

Anyway back to my point.  There is only one thing that enabled me to get beyond the shadows of the past  when it came to her and that was to make this particular trip, on this not so special day to her grave.  It was in the 60’s and the sun was out.  And I stood here for a long time pondering what I would say if she were to stand next to me. It was then I said something very close to this:

This is my stepmother's grave. My father was buried elsewhere

This is my stepmother’s grave. My father was buried elsewhere

 

“It has been many years now. I have done some digging and now I can understand why you were so tormented over several things. Losing your own children and losing two sisters prior took a toll on you. I understand now, Judy. I understand the hell you went through at home as a child too. I forgive you.  I actually forgave you a long time ago but I had to come here to say it. I hope that you are at peace and that you are no longer suffering. I would wish what you endured on nobody now that I have put it together.”

Her suicide took a devastating toll on my emotions all the way through high school and beyond. I buried myself in my writing and my school work. I almost ended up getting into cutting but one of the counselors saw my journal and encouraged me to channel my energy elsewhere.  That was when I picked up a pen.

The chilling remarks when I came back to school after her death were the most cutting. Some new kid asked why anyone would shoot themselves.  My teacher in that class was a coach everyone got pissed at every day it seemed.  As I sat there he said, “I don’t know but women usually don’t go around shooting themselves because they are afraid to mess up their looks.”

I was livid. There is no way he didn’t know about her suicide being that he worked part-time for DPS.  I got up and bolted out of the room.  I stayed home for a couple of days and was in a different class after that. My dad made sure of it.  Even in her death the bullying and idiotic behavior of some of the other students continued as well. I never forgot that either. To them it was all a joke.  Well I hope they enjoyed their years at school afterward, because much of their entertainment came at the expense of others who were broken. This is why I don’t attend class reunions either–along with many others who opt not to show.

It is actually them I feel sad for. Even in adulthood they do not have a clue as to the scars they inflicted with their actions and words, yet most have suffered their own tragedies and seem to forget their past actions.  Ironically, I forgive them too. Some will have much to answer for one day. Until then, I will live my life and continue to work to get questions answered. For Judy, it’s the least I can do. She deserved better than what life dealt her.

 

That’s How You Left Me

Everything fades into a blindness

from lights within my mind

and all I can see is what is left here

memories of our time

with mourning shades the cloud

lingers on and still I wait here…

Not that you would care

but all I see is all that is dead

but you’re still there…

And yet wonder why it is you left me waiting

for a sign that never comes

And all I know is that I’m empty

A space is all that remains

of where my heart should be

It’s been that way

that’s how you left me…

The pictures will fade in time from my memory

as I grow old alone

and all I do know is that I once had a place

That I dared call my home.

But all that remains are faded pictures

since that’s now turned to dust

And all I can see there is

what has come of love and trust.

And yet I’ll wonder why it is you left me waiting

for a sign that never comes

And all I’ll  know is that I’m empty

with the rising of the sun

while I embrace the stars

that’s how you left me.

And all that’s left are dreams.

26 Years After Losing a Child, I Still Wonder…

It was 26–almost 27 years ago that I miscarried. I remember the sac and such.  I was told I wasn’t pregnant anymore, yet two weeks later I still had morning sickness and such.  Then that doctor said, “It’s psychological and was going to send me to a “counselor”.”  After ranting for about 20 minutes about how having a kid is like riding a bicycle, they decided to do an ultrasound and another pregnancy test.

When the test came back “positive” my doctor was baffled.  Then they did the ultrasound. Sure enough, there was another sac with a fetus inside of it–with a heartbeat.  That was my son, Brian.  The doctor looked at me and said, “It is very rare to lose one and keep the other but it has happened before.  Most of the time these pregnancies are difficult and still result in loss…” and I stopped listening at that point.

The pregnancy was difficult. I spent the last few weeks in bed. Brian was 6 lbs. 8 ounces when he was born and was still estimated to have been born 6-8 weeks early.  He had reflux and had to sleep at an angle after he almost died at 2 months.  His stomach valve wasn’t fully developed and this caused his milk to go to this lungs when he spit up.

To this day I wonder what his twin might have been like. Boy? Girl? Red haired and blue-eyed like him, or more like me–dark hair and green/hazel eyes…I can say this, no child replaces another. I still mourn the loss of the one. It is very insensitive to tell a mother who has lost a baby via miscarriage or stillbirth anything such as “Well at least you can have another one.” or as in my case, “You don’t need any more children anyway. You already have one.”   I never spoke to that “friend” again either.

I also want to add losing a child does not mean one is not a mother or a father. They still are. They still grieve and mourn and go through the gamut of emotions that go with any death of a loved one.  The fathers go through the experience as well so it is not fair to expect them to be any less traumatized or hurt. Guys, if you have a male friend whose girlfriend or wife went through this, let him grieve and listen. At least then you are being a true friend to him. The same goes for the women who have never experienced it. There is NO right thing to say, but just listening helps.  So do hugs and allowing the person their grief.  This “being stoic” thing is bullshit.  Don’t expect that. We are human. We feel. We cry. We mourn.  Deal with it or just keep  quiet.

We do make our way back eventually, in our own time and in our own way.

 

A Day in Huntsville, TX…View on the Death Penalty…

A Day in Huntsville, TX…View on the Death Penalty….

Empty Hollows

The Diamond Fleece

The Diamond Fleece (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Oh my God! She’s at it again! Call her sister quick!”  the woman said to her husband as he came to look out of their window.

There she was…Amy Holloway, firing up the barbecue grill.  It was sprinkling outside. The man shook his head and told his wife, “Just leave that girl be. She has suffered enough with that ex husband to be of hers screwing around two days after her kid’s funeral. I don’t blame her for acting out a bit!”

“You aren’t the least bit concerned that she’s lighting a grill during what is about to be a severe storm?” she snapped.

“Absolutely not.  She did stranger things when she was younger. So did you as I recall.” he countered.

“But–”

“I said LEAVE her alone!” and with that he went into the den to watch television.

What Amy did next caused Mrs. Madsen to  be even more concerned, although she fully understood why this was going on…

She came out with a long white box that held the wedding gown she wore…The same gown that she had hoped to see her now dead daughter Hailey wear.  She put the veil in first then tore the dress to shreds.  She also put it in there.  After that she took the unframed wedding portrait and tore it into five pieces and put it on top.

After that she doused her miniature pyre with lighter fluid and waited for it to soak in a couple of minutes…She then struck a long match and tossed it on top of the contents of the grill as her eyes welled up.

“It is finished. Goodbye Hailey.” she whispered as a single tear rolled down her cheek.

Once the task was complete and the last bit of smoke came up from the grill, she closed it and went inside. She then laid the keys down on the kitchen counter and sat in her recliner.  She looked out the window as the rain began to fall.

“Maybe I should give this house to the church.  That way something can actually LIVE in this place.” she mused as she  reached for the remote control.  Just as she was getting into a movie called “The Diamond Fleece” the telephone rang…

“Hello.” she said…Paused…”Oh it’s you.”…”Yes that’s right! You got the cars so you got the f**king bills now leave me be–” Paused…

“Share the house? You heard the judge. I worked two jobs to pay for this house and bought it well before I met you. Screw you and your girlfriend!” Paused…”How many times are you going to lie and say there is nothing between you now that we–Hold it! I wouldn’t take you back after knowing you’d been with her. I thought divorcing you proved that!”…Paused…”Look, you got one shot. Screwing her after Hailey’s funeral is rather unforgivable so stop calling me up drunk! Your tears aren’t for her or for me. They are for the fact that you got caught and f***ed yourself!” Paused…”Oh…That…I burned the dress. I guess your sister has to buy her own…” Paused…”IF you don’t effin’ believe me then come to the back and check the grill, A**hole!”  she yelled as she slammed down the phone.

“You are far too angry.” the voice inside the front bedroom said to her.  She just sighed and mixed herself a drink.

“You know you shouldn’t have dumped him like that. He’s hurting too.” the voice said.

“He doesn’t feel half of the pain I do.  Now please leave me be for a while.” she said as she went back to the blue recliner with her drink in hand.

“Honey, I think divorcing him without trying counseling is a mistake. He does love you–”

“And you hate divorce, Mother. However if he loved me he wouldn’t have looked at her twice. It made our vows a lie! I would never trust him again after that anyway. We must not have had much of a marriage to begin with for him to do that with her 2 days after the funeral and God only knows how many times prior.  It’s over.” Amy said as she tightly clutched the glass.

“You are wrong. In time you will see that. I know it.” her mother told her.

“Whatever Mom.  Call Tish if you like because that’s all that ever happens when I get angry anymore.  No one can let me vent it and get it over-with! I’m supposed to be the little silent church mouse like the two of you–”

“That is so untrue!  It may be what you feel, but I never wanted you to be anything less than what you want to be. I am proud of you for getting a career and moving up in the world.  I couldn’t give much but I did  give you that.” she said.

Amy turned to face the older grey haired woman.   A tear rolled down her cheek.  “You never told me you were proud  of me before. Especially when Dad was around.”

“Well I am and he would be too–”

“He wanted me to go to a freaking convent!” she said.

“No he didn’t.  He only wanted for  you to learn to control yourself more.  I know you have  a short fuse like  he did, but he always bragged to the boys at the pub  when you succeeded in anything. I only wish you heard it then. All that stuff he said when you were younger–he was just being an ass.  Read his journal and it will prove  that.” her mother told her.

“I honestly think he wanted a boy.” she said.

“Well he certainly didn’t do you any favors taking you to the docks did he?” her mother asked.

Amy smiled, “No he didn’t.  But I’m glad he did. I liked the boats and the guys showed me how to prepare the fish properly.”

“As you got older he made you stay here because the dock hands kept eyeballing you and it pissed him off.” her mother grinned.

“Yeah…Tish told me he hated that!” she laughed.

“Well he was glad when the counselor told him you could be in advanced classes. He signed the papers.” she said.

“Wha-”

“That’s right. He signed them.  He said if it keeps you out of the bars and off the docks, he’s happy.  I know he’d be proud now, Amy.” she said.

“Wish he said it to me.” Amy said.

“He did in a way, Amy.  He gave you the business. That and with your law practice, you’ve done well and I know he’d love that.” her mother said as she walked over to her and hugged her.

“Well, he’s with Hailey now and I’m sure he’s showing her constellations and how the ships know where to go and such.” she mused.

“Amy–”

“But it’s a good thing he didn’t live to see this because he would have killed Michael and we both know it.” she said.

“Amy,  this is all killing Michael. He loves you. He did not want the divorce.” her mother said.

“Doesn’t matter now.”Amy said as the rain began to pour against the windows. She glanced at the remnants of smoke from the grill and the empty swing Hailey so loved.

“And I don’t think you wanted one either. I’m going to lie down.  If you want Michael to be a knight in shining armor, then you had better give him a reason to come out of the bottom of that bottle before he kills himself. He thinks he lost you long before Hailey died. He told Tish that. He’s been lost ever since she fell ill the last time. ”  her mother warned.

“Well Mother,” Amy began, “Maybe if he came to me instead of his whore secretary we might have had a chance in hell of actually making it work.   He should have thought of it. I won’t forgive him and nobody has any right to expect me to.”

“All I am saying is that you are probably going to always wonder what may have been if you don’t at least talk to him. Try talking about Hailey. You’re both grieving–”

“He’s only grieving the fact that I caught him and he couldn’t get the house.” Amy hissed.

“You are wrong. It takes two to make a marriage work and two to break it. I’ll talk to you later dear.” her mother said as she went back into her room.

“And I’ll get over it.” Amy said to herself as she continued to take in the blurred view through the window while the rain fell and her eyes once again blurred as they became misty at the site of the swing…

The monument to her lost child…