Letting Go: A Sketch of Love Against a Life’s Etching of Grief

Even when the tidal waves of grief cease, the ebb and flow, the surge and deep darkness that is the ocean, that, alas, is grief, persists. Hope rests in the distance, skyward, arcing, streaming glimpses of what’s yet to come–then, there, at that moment, the final lifting up and breaking free of the weight of carrying the grief of losing a child to suicide.

I came upon the excerpt below in one of my grief support groups for losing a child to suicide, “Parents of Suicides.” And while I don’t necessarily agree with everything written here, I do know that when I read through “With Every Goodbye” the first time, something resonated deep within me, the soul and bones and ache of grieving my son these past three, nearly three and one-half years. 

I find in its words the brute truth of life–that life isn’t fair, that loving a child hopelessly doesn’t guarantee freedom from tragedy–and death, and that holding onto and keeping sorrow to fill the hole in my soul only makes more pronounced the painful absence of my son. 

I do not know if I have “let go.” I hold love, and protect love, fiercely, as fiercely now as the mama tiger who raised her infant son to young adulthood. I hold fast good, powerful, albeit  bittersweet, memories. 

I miss everything about my son–his 6’1″ frame, his lanky, strong build, the salty taste of his teenaged skin, the smell of his skin (and his “Axe” body spray), his enormous chocolate eyes, the way the corners of his mouth always turned up, nearly always in a smile, and I only now realize, post suicide, that his smile masqued his sadness, his sorrow and depression. 

Some days, I lift my hands, my arms high, offering my child up to the hope that I will again join him–someday. I dance my prayers, draw with pastels my feelings, watch my “healing,” as best can be, ebb more than it, as in the beginning, really the first 18 months, overwhelm and overtake me. I live more from a place of peace with some acceptance that I will never know the “why” of his suicide. But I also know the triggers still come easily.

If you are in early grieving, this excerpt might not stir anything familiar. It takes a long time to even realize it takes a long time to come to terms with what you cannot change. 

Still, I dream of Dylan. Still, I dream I am trying, but can’t, save him. Still, I wake up abruptly and horrifically, drenched in heartbreak and sorrow in realizing that my beautiful son is dead. Still, I dream, though not as often, flashbacks to his death, though now, dream more about who we were, who we are, as mother and son. Still I fight saying “goodbye” to what is and always will be most precious. Always the missing. Always the loving. Always remembering Dylan.

“With Every Goodbye”
After a while, you learn the subtle difference
Between holding a hand and chaining a soul.
And you learn that love doesn’t always mean security.
And you learn that kisses aren’t contracts,
And presents aren’t promises.
And you begin to accept your defeats
With your head up and your eyes open,
With the grace of a woman or a man,
Not the grief of a child.
And you learn to build all your roads on today,
Because tomorrow’s ground is too uncertain,
And futures have a way of falling down in mid-flight.
After awhile you learn that even sunshine burns
If you ask too much.
So you plant you own garden and decorate you own soul,
Instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers.
And you learn that you really can endure,

That you really are strong,
And that you really have worth.
And you learn, and you learn . . .

With every goodbye, you learn.
     (From ‘Shavatva-Yinafash’, the Prayerbook) 

Rest easy, little one, rest easy

With every goodbye, you learn.
From ‘Shavatva-Yinafash’, the Prayerbook 

By Beth Brown

Rememberer of dreams. Whisperer of gardens green.
At the whim of "Most Beloved" and a hot cup of tea.
I live life between, straddled here now and then,
My continuity through writing--
Pen dripping ink, mind swirling confused,
Love lingering still, and Most Beloved's purring soothes.

Blogger at "Gardens at Effingham" (where cats do the talking) and "My Forever Son" (where a mother's heart runs deep after losing her son to suicide)
Musician. Writer. Literary Connoisseur.
At the whim of a calico cat and a strong cup of tea.

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