Today I will lay my husband to rest, he died from sudicide which happened while our daughter was home with him, I don’t know what tomorrow, next week, or the next month will bring, I know I have to be strong for her, I want to just crumble into a ball, I don’t know what to expect, she is very angry, I just keep thinking of the word “Steel Magnolia.”
I don’t know what to do.
The morning after my father took his own life, I sat on our porch to watch the sunrise. I was a boy.
Inside our house, all the “Steel Magnolias” were buzzing around, cooking funeral food. The smells coming from the kitchen were beautiful. So was the sunlight.
Why is it that sunny days come at the wrongest times?
Don’t get me wrong. I need the sun. I have an addiction to sunlight. Without it I am a miserable mess. And I am not exaggerating.
A doctor once told me this is a real condition. He said that when some people become sun deprived, they go through a kind of biological depression. Some have it so bad they have to relocate to Florida to deal with it.
Well, I already live in Florida, and this is not a sure-fire cure. Sometimes we don’t see the sun for weeks in the Panhandle.
Once—I am serious about this—we went eight days without the sun. And worse, this overcast spell happened to coincide with the funeral of my friend’s mother. My friend’s mother took her own life.
It was bad. My friend’s father found her in the bathroom.
When my friend called, it was almost too much for me to hear. It took me back to childhood, to a time when the preacher said my father had died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
My friend’s mother’s funeral was in Tennessee. I drove all the way to Nashville to attend. My wife had to work that week, so I brought my dog along for the ride.
My dog sat in the passenger seat because I couldn’t stand to be alone.
It was a nice service. But there was one common word circulating throughout the funeral congregation. “Why?”
That’s always the main question with suicide. “Why?” It is a question for which there is no response.
After the funeral, I made the long drive home. And I cried. Not just for my friend, but for my father, my mother, my sister, and my messed up life.
Something came over me. I couldn’t seem to drive straight back to Florida. I started taking back roads that led me on a wild goose chase, I don’t know why.
My wife was worried about me. She kept calling my cellphone, but I wasn’t answering. I needed time to think. About what, I’m not sure.
I checked into a motel that night and snuck my dog in. We ate peanut butter and potato chips for supper. I watched a baseball game. And I cried some more.
That next morning, I awoke before sunrise, I called my wife. She was a wreck. I felt badly that I’d made her that way. Still do.
“Are you okay?” she asked.
“I am now.”
“Please come home, you’re worrying me.”
“I’m on my way.”
“Where are you?”
“I love you. Are you sure you’re okay?
“I think so.”
There’s a point to this story, I promise.
While I was driving that morning, the sun began to rise over the interstate. It came through my windshield. It shined on my knees. I got so overwhelmed that I had to pull over.
The sun. My God. The sun. Have you ever looked at it? It can stab through an overcast hell that lingers above our world and make everything brand new.
I’m not going to mince words. My life has been pretty screwed up. After my father’s end, it all went downhill. Before his death, I was a smart kid. After his funeral, I grew up to be a fool who never went to school. My future fell into the mud. So did our family. So did our finances. So did everything.
But the sunrise. That glowing ball, rising high above the trees, making long shadows on Earth, and painting everything with light. Go outside and look at it.
It’s okay to be messed up. It’s okay to be hurt, tired, confused, lost, and angry. It’s okay to be afraid of the dark, to be full of regret, or scared, or plagued by bad dreams. And it’s okay to ask “why?”
Because darkness doesn’t last forever. It can’t.
I know this because I am proof. You have to believe. I’m begging you to believe. Just hold on for a little while longer. And one day, not long from now, you will see it. The sun will rise.
And when it does, it will blow your mind.