I sit on the couch half way between the photos of my son smiling and a box with his ashes. My son is dead. The pictures are behind me and in each one of them he is smiling. And there on the fire place underneath a silly hat (the Jayne hat from Firefly) in a shiny plastic box are most of his ashes. It has been almost a year… I sigh and leave the TV off.
My son, Ethan, committed suicide. And I probably will never know the reasons. There are questions that may be haunting… whispered somewhere back in my mind. Doubts and the edges of regrets… darker emotions that pull close to the edge of some abyss.
Sometimes I like to sit here. It’s okay. I don’t need to be distracted by activity. I don’t need to be cheered up. This is where I reconcile the memories of my son… of his entire life, with my feelings about the fact that it is over.
My wife summed up my feelings last night. We were sitting and talking about sadness… not depression or despair… but a certain sadness– “disappointed” she said. “Dang it, Ethan.” Yeah… inescapable disappointment- the feeling of sadness or displeasure caused by the nonfulfillment of one’s hopes or expectations. It is done.
I talk a little to God. I ask for a little bit of energy. And I thank Him. That is my short prayer. Not of anger or rage… or deep sobbing tears. My faith has been tested. I have examined it and pulled at it, prodded it… and hugged it like a giant plush toy. And I know through all of this that God was there with me. Compassionate and often silent. Patient. Willing to hear any expletive laced tirade I would shout at him… and still stand faithful. Life for me is more and more about grace. Less about me. Less about achievement and activity… about occupation and effort.
This is the spot on the couch that a year ago, sometime past midnight… after holding Marquita for sometime as she sobbed.. That I finally cried- big unmanly body wracking sobs. It is where I finally felt all the strength leave my body- from my chest to the back of my legs. Where after hours of resisting the truth, I finally surrendered. That felt like despair.
There on the floor is the spot where the three of us sat in a pile, when justin finally arrived. And cried together as a family of survivors. Where I paused from crying long enough to wonder what the rest of my life would be like.
So this butt sized depression in the couch is mine. Not just to play video games or read or type to a blog… or to watch TV or sit with these cats. Sometimes I sit here in tears. It is where my life seemed to shatter… to break apart in the worst and most complete way, and where, for this past year as life came back together… I have had a cup of tea and a moment to think… and another. I have sat here and given voice to emotions as negative as I could ever had imagined… and have written them down here. I have painted portraits and pictures of animals in this spot. I have held memories… sounds and pictures in my mind. I have prayed here and had some rather lively discussions directed to God. And I have sighed.
I get up from the couch and close the laptop… setting it on the TV tray with all the remotes. And as I turn to go upstairs, there is a picture of Ethan in his Fresno State Uniform and sunglasses and he is smiling. I smile too.