For me, October always brings with it the reminder of loss.
22 years ago on October 1, I lost my Dad. I was only 10.
For reasons I may never understand and questions that will never get answered, I am forced to settle…
Suicide is what took my Dad. It was a choice he made for himself, but one I wish he knew was going to affect way more than just himself.
I don’t like to talk about it, but who does? Death and loss are painful no matter how many years keep passing by. And the fact of the matter is, everyone looses someone they love eventually, I’m not alone in that. And so my head says I should write about him and share my story, but my heart says it’s still too hard to go there, to really be honest, to let others in.
So all month long (now even into November) I have fought with myself back and forth on whether or not I should write this post.
And then I realized there is one, well actually three, very big reasons why I should write this post.
My three boys.
My boys are 3, 5, and 7 years old and are beginning to ask questions about their grandpa they will never get to meet. Right now all they know is that my dad was very sick. Which is true, he was. A few years before we lost him he battled brain cancer and was never really the same again. Usually when people ask how he died, I blame it on the cancer. It’s easier to say “he had cancer” and stop there. People just assume that was what took his life and I have been okay with that. Like I said, it’s easier, the conversation ends there.
When it comes to my boys, the conversation isn’t going to end there. The older they get the more they are going to want to know. The more questions they are going to have. And I want to be honest with them, I want to be more vulnerable and real with them than my dad ever was with me. I want to be able to talk about it. I need to start being more open about it now so I am ready when they are.
I just didn’t think it was going to be this hard. To be honest, I am dreading it. It makes me angry at my dad all over again. That I have to explain this to my boys. That I have to try to make them understand something that I still struggle to understand myself. That I have to answer questions for them that I have been trying to answer my whole life. I wish he would have thought about that before he made his choice. Thought about the impact it would have on more than just his own life.
There are so many things I wish I didn’t have to tell them and instead so many things I wish he could tell them.
I wish he could tell them how I was his only daughter and the ‘apple of his eye’.
I wish he could tell them how he would always cut two roses, one for mom and one just for me.
I wish he could tell them how he taught me to patch a hole in my bike tire.
I wish he could tell them how he would steal all the Snicker bars from my trick-or-treat bag. Then steal all of theirs.
I wish he could tell them how he lost his own father when he was just a teen but overcame.
I wish he could tell them how he beat alcoholism and was 5 years sober.
I wish he could tell them how he survived brain cancer and beat the odds by learning to walk again.
And finally, I wish he could tell them that life got tough, really tough, but he didn’t give up…
except that he did.
He gave up.
That’s what suicide feels like to those of us left behind. At least that is how it felt to me as a 10 year old kid, and today still rings true.
These thoughts and feelings are not things that I talk about often, almost never actually, but I am trying to be better about that. I want to be more open and real and talk about these difficult experiences so we can learn and grow from them. I want to face them so I can better teach my own children about life.
I am still not ready yet.
But I will be.
By God’s grace I will be.
I still have a lot to work on, fears to face, and forgiveness to give. But in the midst of all that, there is one thing I am sure of. One thing that I will endlessly try to teach my boys that my father must not have understood.
In this world, when you think there is absolutely nothing left to live for, no way out, you are wrong.
We have a Heavenly Father who loves us more than we will ever know. A father that will never fail us and never leave us. A father who gave his life for us.
He made the sacrifice, He paid the price.
There is no greater love than that, and no greater purpose.
“And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” -Romans 8:38-39
I pray my boys will grow to know God’s love for them and never forget it. That is the one thing I hope I can teach them.
I may have lots of questions, fears, and uncertainties when it comes to explaining my father’s life to my boys some day. But thankfully I have a Heavenly Father who will love me and lead me through it.
And in that I can be certain.