Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Life and Death

Yesterday was a sad day for our family. My husband's father, who was recently felled by a massive stroke, died early in the morning. He was about to turn 85. His passing is a blessing; he was confined to a nursing home, bedridden, paralyzed on one side, unable to speak. None of us were sure of his comprehension other than the light we saw go in and out of his eyes. My mother in law is devastated. He was part of her life for sixty years and she is bereft. As the mother of another friend of mine, after losing her husband of 47 years, said recently,

"Half of me is gone."

That is a powerful statement. It made me stop and think about the feelings I will have if my husband goes before me. I've known him since I was 16. While I remember life without him, we were married, divorced, re-married, I don't want to think about that any longer. A long lasting relationship does get taken for granted. The after shock of this sinks in once we are irrevocably parted.

A real tragedy played itself out yesterday as well in the life of my elder son. Over the weekend he called home full of concern about one of his best friends. He had gone away without explanation after his girlfriend broke off their relationship. He'd talked about suicide and my son was concerned enough to contact the police. My son spoke with the ex girlfriend and she too was concerned, having contacted the boy's parents who lived in other parts of the country. Everyone's worst fears were confirmed when the news came yesterday afternoon this boy of 23 years, just graduated from college, son of a well-to-do family, had locked himself in the family garage, got in the car, turned on the engine and gave up his life.

My son called last night sobbing. He'd lost his grandfather in the morning and a dear friend that afternoon. It was just too much to bear. I sobbed along with him, unable to comfort or hold him; my heart breaking.

I lost a close friend like this ten years ago. She was unhappily married, living in Las Vegas, away from her beloved San Diego beaches. She drank too much. She called sporadically. But she never reached out. She just went in the garage one day, turned on the car and passed out in the seat. That was ten years ago and I've never understood it nor stopped missing her.

Losing my husband's father, the boys' grandfather, is sad but it is part of the life cycle. He lived a long and full life; most of it quite happy. The terrible act of suicide is tragedy; the implications heart wrenching and far reaching. Everyone is affected. We choose to remember the departed in good times but it is the death that haunts us.

Wondering always, "Why?"


Ruth said...

Ohh. This is hard. We recently heard that my high school friends lost their 27-year-old son to suicide. There can't be anything any harder for a parent.

Ruth said...

I meant to say that I'm sorry about your father-in-law. It's hard, you have been attending to him since his stroke. I do hope your memories will be a comfort as you reflect on him.

ellen abbott said...

A permanent solution to a temporary problem. That's how my friend describes suicide. I can't imagine being that sad and hopeless though I have felt plenty sad and hopeless in my time.

But the other...losing half of me. That is a real possibility for me. I am called to tears and fear just at the thought.

Linda Pendleton said...

So sorry for your family. I feel bad for your son and what he is going through and, as you know, part of it is not only the why? but could he have stopped his friend. Hopefully you can help him to understand he couldn't. I recall when my son was 19 and a good friend of his and ours (19) lost his father to a heart attack and a few months later he went off and killed himself in some motel. So sad when this happens.

And yes, your mother-in-law is right, a part of you goes with them. But in time, the missing piece of your heart mends over some.

Poetikat said...

You have my profound sympathy. My father passed away last November at the age of 81. My parents had their 50th wedding anniversary in August of last year. My mom is slowly coming to grips with the loss of my dad.
My prayers are with you.


Bonnie, Original Art Studio said...

Somehow we need to teach our young people that broken hearts mend, that we can recover from loss, that our hearts are capable of loving many people in a lifetime, that loving and losing can even enrich your life by creating character . . . These poor souls just do not realize that we are wired to eventually be able to go on after devastation.
Thank you for sharing your stories. Let your son talk and talk about this - besides his loss, he has been wacked with a dose of his own mortality before most humans have to deal with it.

My sympathies.

Nancy said...

Wow, this is really hard for people my age, let alone your son's age. I'm so sorry for your loss. My father-in-law died in March and we are working through the loneliness with my mother-in-law after over 60 years of marriage. She is 96 and hanging in there. Never feels sorry for herself. Gob I hope I have that much strength if that time ever comes.

I lost an old friend to suicide and to this day I can't understand why she didn't reach out. But I guess they don't want to reach out anymore. That's the problem.

I also agree with Bonnie. Big virtual hug!

Marguerite said...

Cal. Girl, I am so sorry about the losses in your family. So much loss in one day is hard for anyone to bear. I will keep you and your family in my thoughts and prayers.

Shadow said...

I’m so very sorry you are passing through so much pain at the moment, your son as well which must be even more painful.
No one is prepared to lose a best friend specially when we are that young, and losing two special one’s like he did… Very difficult times for you and your family and I pray you all heal fast and well soon, I can’t imagine anything to say to take most of your pain.
Stay strong, you have many hearts here who care about you. God bless.

Coffee Messiah said...

Life is full of mysteries.

My first gf, after she moved back to ny, many years later, killed herself the same way you mentioned here. It threw me for a loop. Saw one of those films that mentioned killing yourself, leaves you in a hell state. I wondered, how could this be, etc, etc. I finally came to terms with not taking what others say about it too personally. Besides, in the end, we really do not know what happens.

Sorry to hear about your husbands Dad.

My uncle died 2 days ago, and I last spoke to him months ago, when his 2nd wife died.

I feel like you, although I only have known L for 15 yrs, being together 12. I know I'd go on, but the loss of someone so close is hard to take.

My best to you all.

Judy said...

Thanks for sharing the sadness as well as the sweetness. In life we need to experience both, and honor the lessons and love which come from both.

My heart does out to your family!

Anne said...

How sad for your family. Reading your blog reminded me to tell my friends and family I love them, to try every day to be the best person I can be...life is fleeting!

Minka said...

I feel some losses are harder than others, but the others are not really easier to bare. Does that make any sense?

I wish you strength, I'm so sorry you have to go through all this.

Mary Ellen said...

My profoundest sympathy. Your son's loss is life-shaking. My nephew did the same thing - snaked a tube from the exhaust into his beloved Jeep and died after a falling out with girlfriend. Both of my sons, then teen-aged, were significantly shaken by this event. We all learned to love each other more openly, and to cut down on the pressure on the kids to succeed / perform / prove anything.

California Girl said...

Ruth: I know you feel for your friends. It is just such a terrible waste. Thank you for the note of sympathy too.

Ellen: your friend is very wise to position it that way.

Linda: He wishes he could have done more. I was surprised he called the police. He did have a bad feeling about it. Thank you for sharing the story about your son's friend. I'm hearing many stories like that about the young ones.

PKat: 50 years together...Sounds like she is a strong woman. My mom died after 47 yrs of marriage to Dad. After she passed, we found out he'd been married before! Nobody knew, apparently not even my mother.

Bonnie: yes, I guess it's the beginning of life long lessons as so many of the comments show. He will learn to go on and he'll never forget it as well.

Nancy: Sounds like your parents were/are in my parents' age range. You are lucky to be there for her and v.v. and you have the grand/great grand babies to share. I know what you mean about never understanding why your friend committed suicide. Thank you for your kind comments. Hugs to you too.

Marguerite: Thank you for that. Hugs back.

Shadow: I think it is terribly hard at a young age. He cannot understand why a healthy, handsome, graduated with a degree, monied boy would do such a thing. But, we never do understand.

CM: I am sorry for your loss as well. I hope he was old and lived a long happy life. You sound very much in love no matter how long your marriage. As for your girlfriend of long ago, another lost soul.

Judy: Thank you for your sweet words.

Anne: If I didn't achieve anything else, your telling friends & family how much you love them would be worth it! thank you.

Minka: Some losses are harder. I am not having a hard time with my husband's father as he was in a miserable condition and I wanted him to go. I cannot grieve. But the young boy, my son's friend I did not know, fills me with grief.

ME: I am so sorry to hear that. If one person's loss serves as a lesson for another, perhaps there is some kind of reason for it after all.

Pop and Ice said...

I'm so sorry to hear this news. Even a life that has dwindled in quality is still one to be missed.

And I'm so sorry to hear about your son's friend. Suicide is so hard on the survivors. And yet there's really little that can be done. I hope your son is able to talk out his feelings regarding the situation and that the ex-girlfriend doesn't need therapy from here on out. How very sad.

Susan said...

I'm so terribly sorry for your family's loss. I hope that your wonderful memories of his life will bring comfort to you all at this sad, sad time.


Kimberly said...

Surely we must celebrate the lives of those gone before or who will go after us. A man who has lived 85 years is in short a lucky man.

I was just speaking with my mother - a school friend of mine passed away this morning - 32, two smaller kids, heart attack.

Makes you realize we can leave at any time with no notice. If you aren't living - start today.

California Girl said...

Pop: I have thought about that girl so much. Her life is altered and I feel for her. I guess they hadn't gone together more than a few weeks and he was becoming too serious too quickly and she balked.

Susan: thank you. My husband wrote and published his obit yesterday and it really is quite good.

Kimberly: Your friend's death is another tragedy, 32 years old and two young children. I'm so sorry.

my FIl had a long and fulfilling life and there wasn't much he did not do. No regrets might have been his motto. Would make a great saying for his headstone!
You are right about living now, today.

Debo Hobo said...

So sorry for your loses.

DawnTreader said...

Didn't read this until today. Such sad news. The hardest thing about my mother's death (at the age of 79) has been seeing my dad (also not well) so "lost" without her. They were married 55 years. I, too, feel the loss, but it can't quite be compared. I never used to have daily contact with my parents (as a grown-up). Not even weekly, most of the time. Mum and dad on the other hand, were rarely apart even for a day.

A few years ago I attended a funeral for a friend who had taken his own life, a little younger than myself. Not a really close friend but still. It brings a different kind of sadness, and a whole lot of other stuff to "process", compared to when someone dies of old age.

I like the picture you chose for this post.

California Girl said...

Dawn: I appreciate your thoughts. I know you just went through this with your mother. The loss is for you father. How is he doing?

Yes, the suicide is very upsetting and we never understand what went on.

Valerie said...

Sending virtual hugs. They won't help your feelings but at least you'll know you're thought about at this sad time.

California Girl said...

Hi Valerie: Last night we threw a celebration of my FIL's life at our home. We live in an area where very few people knew my FIL except when they've met him at parties at our home. My husband published a beautiful obit which ended with his inviting people to our home. He expected 10-15 people and I just looked at him and said, "You underestimate our friends."

We probably had between 35-40 people, most brought food (a blessing as I was recovering from a diverticulitis attack) and everyone brought love. It was great. Hey! I think I'll turn this into a post. :)

Valerie said...

A post would be good, another kind of celebration for FiL.
Diverticulitis? Friend of mine suffers with that, most unpleasant for you.

Tanna said...

I'm trying to catch up today after being gone almost three weeks. My heart goes out to your family.


by Cole Scott