A mother that buries a son buries her heart
I am the mother of a young suicide. Changed, forever changed, by the death of my 20-year-old son, Dylan Andrew Brown, 3 years and nearly 4 months ago. I hate that word–ago. Long ago. Oh, you know, awhile ago. Ago–to go, has been, past tense, once was, not to be again.
I lost Dylan to suicide on June 25, 2012 at 1:52 a.m. He had texted his close friend, his growing up forever best friend, just an hour earlier. “Hey bro, what’s up?” “Not much, how ’bout you?” “Bout the same.” Dylan’s last words to someone he had known for more than a decade, someone who was frequently at our house because we were neighbors, a running buddy, a fellow gamer, a bandmate–Dylan on guitar, Jeramiah on drums. The two of them were closer than brothers, called each other brother, knew and spoke more into each other’s lives much of most days, 5 days a week at school, playing after school–football, basketball, skateboarding. Pizza, big breakfasts I’d cook from scratch–bacon, fried eggs, toast, oj, milk, fried potatoes, a close, intimate suburban suburb. Good kids, good homes, “A” students, top-notch students, athletes, and musicians, in band, doing all things together, hanging out on weekends, staying up too late talking and texting, sharing hopes and dreams and visions of their futures.
Some days are easier than other. Today is not such a day. Today’s a day I awakened in tears, my head buried in shame in my pillow, my heart wide open and longing and grieving for a child and son and cusp-of-young-adult man I love and adore with all that I am, all the time, in everything I do.
I only know to do what I know how to do, routine, ritual, move–even when all of me is grinding down, step feet out of bed, push through, make tea, make something–eat, read, come to. . .come to.
This too shall pass, but when? When? It is mid-afternoon and still this hangover of depression, of suicide, of wide-open grief. I look to my cat. She opens her eyes for the picture, then right back to dozing.
A cat’s life, slumbering through the day, 18-plus hours of napping, drifting off, a hazy, filtered kind of life.
I know this kind of life now. 18-plus hours a day of living in the surreal fog, this veiled shroud of living each breath as the mother of a suicide. There are simply no words to describe this kind of numbing out, this haze through which I must glimpse the world. I’m here, but not here. Not really when all of me either surfaces and spills over wide open in sorrow and pain or else numbs out and assumes the facade I must wear and be to even marginally fit in. I am always with Dylan, even when seemingly not so. These are two disparate states of being–either faking it and wearing the masque of living in the moment, or else cracking open in despair and hopelessness. I wish I could choose–like clothes to wear or whether or not to clip my hair back–to numb out and feel detached and separate from, or to just be real and let my insides outside.
In the end, I know Dylan struggled with this too, because my confusion and torment between living between who I am inside and who I must be outside is not just about grieving his death by suicide. Dylan was saddled–and I am saddled, with depression, that ugly sick monster who feeds off sucking you dry from everything you knew you loved. The one with daggers for horns and an unquenchable fire to consume all that you once knew of life–a childlike joy, a fascination for a new day, gratitude to be here now, fun in the moment, the ability to laugh, love, play, let go, take it easy, follow through, achieve, desire, plan, hope, dream, do, be.
Dylan made it 15 years in the jowls of depression, all the while being chewed up and spit out repeatedly in an effort to chew the living life out of my son. And then, and then. . .sigh, . . .
June 25th, 2012, Monday, Dylan took his life.
Depression hurts. Left untreated, depression kills. Even treated, depression rallies and rails against any sort of containment. Depression lies in wait. Dylan was seeking help. Starting meds. But depression is an illness. And illness never waits for meds to work–And death waits for no one.