Today I had the case of the blues. We had so much fun on Spring Break this past week that it was bound to happen, I suppose.
The house was too quiet with my husband returning to work, my oldest daughter returning to college and my youngest returning to school. I was left with just my doggies, who really are tremendous companions during the day, and my thoughts.
Thoughts are funny little creatures. I’d like to know what happens to send signals for the different thoughts that run through our heads on any given day. Why can’t we funnel in only good thoughts while not allowing bad thoughts to creep into the crevices of our minds and linger there?
For some reason today, my thoughts lingered to my sister and the day we lost her. She is never truly too far from my thoughts. I have pictures of her displayed proudly in my bedroom as well as in other areas of the house, so she is constantly “with” me.
I have a portrait of the two of us together right by my vanity. As I’m putting my makeup on in the mornings, I can glance over at the two of us pictured together in 1996. Never in my wildest dreams would I have ever imagined how the next five years would turn out. While smiling and laughing on a day that my parents requested we go for family portraits since we were adults, to heart breaking, life shattering pain that would follow just a few short years later.
I know for me, my life seemed to be in a whirlwind during that time period. I wonder some times if that is why I did not have a clue what was truly going on with my sister toward the end. For a time, I seemed consumed by the troubles in my life not realizing that her life wasn’t as picture perfect as it appeared on the outside.
One of the absolute happiest days of my life was the day I had my first child. Oh, 1997 was so amazingly beautiful as I welcomed my blonde haired, blue eyed darling into this world. The year of “firsts” was magical, and I enjoyed all things having to do with mother and child. I was basking in the happiness of motherhood as I rocked my little darling in my arms, singing to her as I smiled so proudly and thanked God for her.
The year 1998 brought about a divorce that I did not see coming, and the next two years seemed to drag on forever as we went through a long, drawn out court case. It was really supposed to be a “simple” divorce, but bitterness grew from my ex and it was anything but simple at that point. After swearing off men forever during this two year period, my divorce was finalized in 2000. Slowly, I allowed love to persuade me to give it another chance, and I soon began dating my now husband.
I felt like I was emerging after a horrible nightmare. The monsters chased me and tried to take me down over those two years, but in the end, evil did not win. I actually remember praying before going into the courtroom for the final hearing, “God, please do not let evil win.” And … He did not allow evilness to prevail. God saw me through that ordeal, and I knew that He would walk beside me no matter what I had to face in this life. Little did I know of what was on the horizon …
After feeling like a prisoner that had been held captive all of that time against her will, I was finally free …
Free at last, free at last … thank God, Almighty, I’m free at last! Yes, I did actually quote those words that went down in history from the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
One of my fondest memories is of the day my sister pulled into the parking lot at my workplace in her black Firebird. As I went out to greet her, she stood by her car like the cat that ate the canary. She handed me an item wrapped ever so nicely that I felt a tad bit guilty as I ripped open the paper. In her special way, she let me know she was pregnant by the silver baby picture frame I now held in my hands. Excitement came over me as I squealed loudly and then hugged her around her neck, holding her there for a few minutes as I smiled from ear to ear as we celebrated together.
She allowed me to be there for this very special moment in her life. The entire time she was pregnant, I got to be there as she told of the doctor appointments, the ultrasounds, and right up until she delivered my beautiful niece on a hot summer day in June of 2001.
And then … our world shattered two weeks later in July as my sister took her own life. Postpartum depression took it’s toll all too quickly and claimed another life. She had more than just a case of the blues, but no one truly knew how bad it was … until that day … when it was too late to do anything to save her.
I often wonder if I was too consumed in my own “stuff.” Guilt tries to creep in, and shame tries to take me down. Was I that self absorbed that I didn’t even notice? Or, did she truly just hide it that well. Honestly, not to let myself off the hook too easily (believe me, it has taken a LOT to get me to this place today as I did blame myself so much in the beginning), but when someone is planning, they are good at keeping that part hidden well. We never had a clue that she would ever do anything like this. Not in our worse nightmares would we ever have thought this of her. She was too brilliant, too full of love, and she had so much to live for!
I’m reminded that there is no condemnation in Christ. NONE. So when the devil tries to whisper in my ear all of these “shoulda – coulda – woulda’s” as my husband calls them … I have to squash every single one of those thoughts. I have to take each one and slay them as they try to enter in. I … can’t … I just can’t. After almost 15 years, I have managed to handle those thoughts as they assault me. There is no greater blaming than what a “survivor” does after they lose someone to suicide. I’m what is known as a survivor of suicide, one of the loved ones that was left behind. I “survived” while she did not. And there is a question as to why there, too. Why am I still here while she’s not? Then I am reminded that God has a purpose for my life.
There is purpose in the pain also.
It may be hard to understand why anyone has to go through losing a member of their family this way. But, if you can tell your story without it crippling you and bringing you to your knees, you know you have healed. This is me, telling my story.
Almost 15 years later, it hasn’t completely gone away, and it never will. I am not the same person I was back in 1998-2000 when I went through my horrible divorce, nor when I lost my sister to suicide in 2001. I have changed, I have grown, and I have had to learn to cope the best way I know how. God has carried me through each and every difficult, heart breaking, life shattering moment, too. This I know for certain.
Why did these thoughts all but consume me today? Coming off of a week of wonderful highs with my family, enjoying myself tremendously with my youngest daughter … the only thing I can think of is that my sister isn’t here to enjoy Spring Break with her daughter. She can’t do all of the fun things with her daughter that I have the pleasure of doing with mine, and that saddens me greatly.
I know that my niece wasn’t raised in the manner my sister would have wanted her raised in, and she has turned out differently than we envisioned. We love her, and we treasure the time that we do get to spend with her now. She’s quickly approaching 15 years of age, and she will have new freedom, too. She will be getting her driver’s permit, and she has plans to visit us when she does. Perhaps we will see her more often, and that will be a welcomed change!
All of these thoughts … and now I put them all to rest for the night. Tomorrow will be a new day, and I will focus on the good memories and let everything else go.
Bye bye, Blues.