I believe in the question “Why?”. This question has shaped who I am today. It has left me hurt and scared, and also stronger than I ever thought possible.
We all have unanswered questions that we struggle with every day. I have a haunting question that has changed me forever: Why would my father choose to take his own life rather than reach out for help from those of us who loved him? It is unimaginable that one day life can be perfect and the next day shattered.
The Picture of Perfection
We were, in my eyes, the perfect family. The hardworking mother, the father who was there coaching my sports team, and the older brother watching out for his little sister. We did everything as a family. We spent endless hours at the ball field. Friday nights were movies and pizza. We ate dinner together at the table each night so we could share the events of the day. During the summer we would be at the beach when the sun came up and we would stay until the sun set. It was almost like we loved being together more than we liked being with anyone else. I thought it would be like that forever.
I was about to learn how quickly life could change.
The Day Everything Changed
It was a snowy day in January and my mom had dinner cooking. We were waiting until my father got home to eat, but it kept getting later and later. It was not like him to be so late without calling. My mom tucked me into bed and told me everything would be all right when I woke up, but I could tell she was trying too hard not to look scared.
In the middle of the night, I crept down the stairs. I heard low whispers. I saw one uncle on the phone and my other uncle talking to a policeman. My aunts were hovering over my mother, trying to comfort her. I ran upstairs to my brother’s room and told him to come downstairs with me. I knew when he took my hand in his that we would need each other's support when we found out why everyone was so upset.
My father had been found. My mother held us tight and tried to explain to us that my father had taken his own life.
Battling the Why
How could this have happened? What was she talking about? Why would my dad take his own life? It had to be a mistake. He was such a compassionate person. He always went out of his way for others as a public defender and a coach. Why didn't he ask us for help when he so readily helped others?
So many emotions and questions swirled within me. Where would we live? What if something happened to my Mom? I knew my life would be changed forever. Relationships shifted as daily routines became undone and I felt my world was crumbling.
Journey to Healing
I soon learned that the feelings I was having should not be banished, but lived, shared with my family, understood, and used. My family helped me to see how that sudden loss changed my expected life course from the past I cherished and the future that I looked forward to. Missing what I can no longer have in the long-run has made me so strong.
As we coped with our loss, we have incorporated life changes in ways that allow us to heal without forgetting someone we all loved. Together, we put pieces back together and supported each other. We can take on whatever happens and make the best out of it because we have each other.
I personally have made it a mission of mine to share my story and how I felt so that others will never feel alone when they are grieving. The questions of "why” still go unanswered, but it is what I have done in response within myself that has made me the person I am today.