I could look up the exact time I texted my friend “911” after she didn’t answer my call on Monday, August 12, 2019, but I can’t bring myself to see the actual time this nightmare started. Since the evening hours of that horrific day, many people have had a hand in paving the way for me, my marriage and my family to survive our unimaginable loss. There are many details I don’t remember in the hours, days and weeks following Caleb’s death but what I vividly remember is that I wasn’t alone.
You Pave The Way For Me
I’m currently reading, No Cure For Being Human by Kate Bower, and there’s a sentence she wrote that I can’t stop thinking about, “The future looks like a language I don’t speak.” Before Caleb died I had a pretty good mental picture and expectation of what my future would like like, but it came crashing down hard and disappeared when he died. When I left home that day I thought I’d be coming home to finish the evening normally and go to bed with 5 people safely asleep under my roof. Instead, I was quickly enveloped in darkness, pain, confusion and complete and utter despair. My husband tells me I melted from his arms and landed face down on the ground in my front yard as we stood there with cop cars all around not knowing what to do next. How did I get up? What do you do when your future looks like a language you don’t speak?
With that question and thought in mind, I searched up the word future in 94 different languages. I couldn’t decide on an image to put them in so I asked my sister, “When you think of the future, what image comes to mind?” After pondering a bit she said, “A tree.”
Trees are a symbol of strength and growth as they stand tall and strong. They spread their roots deep into the soil to ground and stabilize themselves and they can weather the toughest of storms. Trees grow up and outwards, representing how a person grows stronger and increases their knowledge and experiences throughout their lifetime. Their appearance may change through the seasons, but new life and growth always reappear.
What did I do when my future went dark? What did I do when my future suddenly looked like a language I don’t speak? I leaned. I leaned on people who planted themselves like trees around me. I literally leaned 100% on my family, friends, church, acquaintances and strangers to survive. I tried really hard to do what they told me to do (breathe, eat, drink water..) and I looked to them for where to put my feet next. I had to learn how to live again and have relied on the people in my life to show me. There are a handful of you who have been in-the-trenches with me and I know it has been anything but easy to support me through my loss and grief. Thank you for walking with me and making the impossible, possible.
It’s been two years, two months and twelve days and I still can’t articulate what my future will look like. It doesn’t physically include Caleb and I just can’t make a picture of that yet. I have hopes, but I also have a lot of fear over what could happen around the corner. For now, I wake up each day and put one foot in front of the other doing the next right thing. I try to live forward-facing and manage grief the best I can. Quite often I find myself leaning on you again, thank you for being there for me.
If I’ve met you since Caleb’s death, you’re likely a bereaved mother as well. I have a new circle of friends across the country whom, had our children not died, I would have never met. God has used different resources and avenues to bring us together and I wish we didn’t meet each other this way, but I’m grateful for you. Whether you’re journey is longer or shorter than mine so far, thank you for being in my circle and showing me how to live well through grief.
I did not keep a list of who donated flowers, memorial gifts, meals, food, money, etc. I’ve received hundreds of cards in the mail, phone calls, text messages, Facebook messages, emails and so on. Because of you, I’m surviving the unspeakable grief of losing my son to suicide. Thank you doesn’t seem like a enough at all, but I and my family are truly and deeply thankful for all the love and help that’s been given to us since Caleb died. Every kind gesture and love that was, and is still, shown to me and my family has paved the road I now walk on. Thank you for paving the way for me.
This is the view from my favorite spot on the couch where I read and write. In Chinese culture, the Magnolia Tree is known for it’s healing powers. Sometimes I just sit here and stare at the tree thinking of all the people who have been trees for me and helped pave the way for my survival. You are helping me heal.