I started blogging as some kind of art therapy and lately my productivity has slowed. Sometimes I feel like I’m repeating myself. Sometime I feel like I’m just flapping my hands and crying like I did as a boy. (I cried a lot…) And sometimes… maybe sometimes… I think I found some bit of normal.
Yesterday, I woman that I only know on line told me how this blog has saved her life. How several months ago and several years after losing her own children- two children- one to drugs… one to cancer… that she was contemplating ending her own life… and that somehow reading my blog, day in and day out… sharing in my struggle, helped her turn a corner and see her life as worth living.
She is the fifth to share something like this… including a family… a sister and brother… and the mother. The sister found my blog from a friend here in the mountain and shared this with her mother in New Jersey, who brought a tablet to her son’s hospital bed where he was recovering from an “accident.” After some tough admissions he read the whole blog and then jotted me note… a thank you. A recognition about how much of Ethan’s struggle he recognized… and how deeply affected his family would have been had he succeeded in ending his life.
Somehow he was convinced no one cared. And that people would quickly get over it and move on. In the hospital he was waiting to get released so he could try again to end it all… and his plans, a mixture of pills and drowning… were far more elaborate and solid. He committed to trying to live. To trying to move beyond the darkness and to talk and to get help.
None of this was what I expected. I wasn’t writing at all hoping to save a life… or five. I wasn’t expecting people to tell me that they read the blog… that they recognize bits of themselves. That they are rooting for us. I have heard from people with depression and insomnia… who see in Ethan’s struggle… something of themselves. The rush of thoughts that won’t stop. The depths of their private despair.
All I really was trying to do was to ease the pain… was to deal with loss… was to find my way back to a world where my son was forever gone. I don’t really know how, but writing daily seems to help a little. And from this cry, from the pit in my heart, I reached five strangers. I miss my son, every moment of every day. And I’m still profoundly sad. I’m still angry. I still feel empty sometimes. And sometimes lost and sometimes numb. And so I will continue to write and paint and take road trips.
It has been nine months since Ethan took his life. And from the first moments of shock and pain, I think the primary task was reconciling this fact of my life with my walk in faith. The first task was to determine if God was in fact, good. How could you? Why? What kind of God does this?… eventually I found His goodness. It wasn’t hiding.
It was in about 100 people- Mostly my wife and son, Justin… in their strength and support… my family- my very old mother… my older brothers and sisters… my younger half sister and nieces and nephews… my Lifequest family and the rest of the family in Christ… in strangers… my colleagues and students… all those who accompanied me on my struggle. Strangers online give me strength through encouragement. Old friends I haven’t seen in a decade reach out in love. God is good. And He is there in the beauty of a sunrise, and the hooting of an owl, and the first snow of winter.
One step at a time. One day at a time. Whatever I feel when I feel it. Activity and action. Calm serenity. Taping on keys to make words that spin out into the ether… making whatever impact.
If you read this, hang with me. Don’t give up. Hang in there. I’m working on it and don’t know where it all goes or how it fits together. And sure I’m still just flapping my hands and crying. I’m not beyond four letter words and pounding my hand on the table. And who knows where this leads?