I'm most recently a writer. In the six plus decades of my life, I've been a wife, mother, grandmother, Jill of all trades though mistress of but a few, and most of the time pretty content with my lot. As a much younger person, I believed I was called to write, but life and living distracted me for most of those decades. An unwilling transplant from the South, twenty years ago I unintentionally landed in the geographical center of the US. Writing came about in part due to the unwillingness, I expect. When caring for family, gardening, and renovating a century-old house failed to provide sufficient creative outlets, I turned to the one thing I always intended to do. Eight titles later, I'm grateful I found myself while Lost in the Plains!
Monday, May 6, 2013
I admit that while spring is in many ways my favorite time of year, I'm especially fragile when the world is turning green and the sun is circling higher in the sky. Anniversary reactions are at the same time predictable and uncontrollable, catching us at unexpected moments and bearing down with fresh grief over losses which we like to believe were dealt with long ago. Apparently, grief knows no time constraints and the heart is capable of reliving the worst blows with agonizing clarity. Or so it has been for me much of my life.
In May of 1957, my father, a beautiful, gifted and brilliant young man of thirty with what might have been a lifetime of creative endeavor ahead of him, ended his life, forever changing the color of the world for those he left behind. Every year since, no matter my age or situation, when winter begins to give over to spring, my spirit is revisited by that tragedy.
For many of those years, I've tried to tell myself the time for grieving has long since passed. I may be able to convince my conscious mind of that fact, but my heart has yet to comply. Something as simple as the sight of budding tree branches, or the scent of a warm breeze can trigger the need to shed a few tears and acknowledge the sorrow, no matter how much time has taught me about moving on. I've learned it's best to give in and allow myself to grieve yet again. Comfort always follows, and for another year I am the survivor I worked so hard to become.
Much has been written and discussed about the unique position of children who survive a parental suicide. Anger, guilt and a lack of closure have been acknowledged as our legacy. Many of us have endured our own battles with depression and even attempted to end our own lives, whether driven by our genetic heritage or by our history. Regardless of how much has been resolved in countless therapy sessions and support groups, I believe most of us continue to seek some way to lovingly remember without also reliving the years of suffering set in motion by that one fateful act. The search may be endless, a circle forever leading back to unanswered questions and or to answers that can never provide the comfort we long for. After over fifty years, I remain hopeful of one day telling the story of my father's life without prefacing the conversation with the story of his death.
My anniversary is almost past. In a another week or so, the weight on my spirit will lift, I'll breathe the spring air more easily and find joy in planting my garden. As I do every year, I will tuck away the memories, accepting them once again as part of a past I can not change. I have no doubt that as has happened so many times, in the next twelve months I'll meet others sharing this journey, and we will talk about our losses and our survival. And just as surely, for a few days next spring, grief will once again come wafting on the first warm breeze, a reminder not only of what I lost, but of what I have survived.