The Second Act

I felt compelled to speak up.  The pastor had asked for prayer requests and I was armed with my plea.  If any family needed a supporting hand or a familiar face in an all too familiar situation it was that family.  I was appealing to my fellow helpless to make a move.  Any move.  A phone call; a card; any action that might reach across to that family and bring them back into the daily stream; I’m sure I must have repeated myself that Sunday morning.

I couldn’t imagine a family sustaining so much hurt.  Our family had experienced the reality of one suicide; literally, one was enough.  Yet, this family was experiencing their third suicide within two generations – I was struck dumb. No words on any paper had yet described the feelings or alleviated the sense of wonderment; the never-ending, unresolved questions that lingered long after the act.

And while I was still struggling daily to grasp the message from my sibling’s death, I alternately slid from one hand’s reasoning — that his mental illness had affected his action – to the other hand’s logic — that a selfish streak in his personality had claimed the final victory.  I had gained no insight from my four year’s pondering.

Three decades later, I have become more pragmatic.  Yes, I still wince when I hear of a family’s experiencing a loved one’s suicide.  I have been left behind twice now; once by a sibling and once by a very special friend.  Having twice muddled through such numbing losses, I have culled from my grief a fickle sense of peace, restless and often at odds with my pragmatic side…