August 25, 2010 at 6:43 am

“All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another.”
 
April has turned into August. In these past months our lives have taken a ride through some of the nastiest, darkest, and most difficult terrain we have ever seen.  But here I am, living and breathing through it.  I am amazed that I have made it this far, if you would have asked me in April, May, June or July…I would have given myself a 2% chance of survival.
 
We all have a survival instinct inside of us — that is why we get “defensive” in situations.  Most of us have the basics for day to day living, we can physically survive in our current living conditions. What hides and emerges in times of crisis are the survival tactics that will surprise us.  Even coping with a crisis like suicide of a loved one requires a type of “defense”.  In the past 4 months I have moved from shock, disbelief, and denial –into dark places, then out again looking for hope.  Each day presenting itself with grief and sadness that is paralyzing, and each day having to find ways to regain some control of my life.
 
We make it through a lot in our lives and most of us do not give ourselves enough credit.  Experiences, situations, events.  We learn, and cope, and move on.
In most cases.
Fred lived in a situation that I will never fully understand, because I did not myself experience it.  Instead, I only know of a life that Fred had that was full of positive…and I mean overflowing with positive…..just as my own.  So, how do I survive?  How do I cope?
 
As people, we invite change into our lives every day, whether we realize it or not, we are working to make things better for ourselves…constantly.  We change jobs, our hair, our significant others, our clothes, our shoes, etc….  We constantly change and we grow through experience after experience, becoming a changed person with each one.  Experiencing loss is no different.  I truly believe that death and loss are the hardest changes we go through, while they are also, the most enlightening in our lives.
 
Fred is woven into my life with memories and tiny threads of just “who he was”.  The experiences of giving birth to Fred, raising him, knowing him, loving him and losing him are all moments of change in my life.  Losing Fred is my most difficult experience, but also in ways the most amazing.  Sound stupid, or selfish, or cruel?  No, it is not meant to be any of those…instead, losing Fred has opened my eyes wider and left my heart laying, wounded, on a fence post for everyone to see.
 
I have changed.
 
We can live our lives, driven and closed off from the outside world.  With that way of life, you do not trust many outside of your family.  We can also walk through our days with a chip on our shoulder, or feeling that we have something to prove.  With that we are not very approachable, and blind to the beauty inside people that we will never meet.  When we crash, or fall apart….we are exposed.  Losing Fred left me wide open, wounded and exposed.  With my heart broken in a million pieces outside of my body, and my mind not able to function beyond wiping tears and blowing my nose….
I was the sad lady on Curry Street….
The one that no one could identify with her pain or her ability to go on.  Some wrote me off, giving me days.  Others knew of strength I did not realize I had.  And still others watched and waited for further tragedy while drawing a mark of disgrace on our family.
 
So, with that stain on my forehead, I have chosen to go on and live through this, and with this.  I slowed my life, opened my doors and found that I am too tired to prove anything…and my shoulders are too weak to carry the chip any longer.  The chip I carried represented who I was and where I came from….which I thought was important when I moved to this small town.  It’s not, no one really cares.  I felt that I needed to continuously prove, over and over, that I was not a bad person.  Again, no one cares, the one I was trying to prove it to was myself.
 
No one can see the place on my skin that bleeds constantly, nor can they see the pain that is carried inside my heart.  They CAN see tears, and they CAN see a woman that is trying like hell to live.  They stare.  They wonder.  They even at times corner me and lecture me.  They write letters and cards and send them in the mail.  And some even gossip and try to put the tragedy into a nice neat little box with their own interpretation of events, reasons and outcomes.  What they will never see, never experience and never understand, is the absolutely beautiful feeling of having Fred in my life.  My tears show how much I miss him and love him.  I cry for the pain he felt, the hopelessness in his heart, and that I did not know.  I dream of grabbing him, his face…….and putting my breath into his body and watching his eyes open.
 
I am changed forever.
 
So, I stand here now, a changed woman.  I look for direction, knowing that I also have a huge heart and a need to love people.  I venture out of the house…hiding the “brand” burned into my skin…..and enter the unknown.  I am aware of what happens around me, and I want to be part of that life.  I take steps backwards, and take leaps forward.  I am who I am, and this life is what it is.  Now it is up to me and my survival kit to take the change in my life and do something with it.  Can I sit and be miserable forever?  Is that really what any of our loved ones would want for us when they die?  Do I let the tattoo of suicide blemish or blossom my life?  Do I honor my son and my living children with giving up? Or do I honor Fred, Grant, Sarah and Tracey with a mother that can survive?
 
“Change is the essence of life.  Be willing to surrender what you are for what you could become. “