… I knew leaving the family and going home would not be easy. Immediately, I was back caring for my sister who was still slowly recovering from a heart transplant. What will this new normal really look like?
How grateful we were to our family and friends for their outpouring of support through cards, flowers, and phone calls. The first Sunday back we arrived intentionally late that morning, and we left as the last song was song. I wasn’t sure I could handle talking with people just yet. We did go back to church that Sunday evening, and I was able to stay clear through. Peace, in bits, comes.
One outstanding feeling I could not shake? The constant concern for Carlton, Kathy, and the kids did not wane. I woke up thinking of them, went to bed thinking of them, and countless moments throughout the days wondering how they were adjusting.
Would the pain and ache ever quiet?
We already had a trip scheduled to Denver for a college class reunion in February 1992. So we flew back out, and we stayed for week again. While we were there, we joined a group therapy session for suicide survivors. We took the opportunity to express what was going on in our own processing. But, we also came to realize how important it was to know we are not alone. Truly, most helpful.
One thing I want to share is that I have never been ashamed of Jamie or his final act. I know this use to be a very common response to suicide- family shame, but not for me. Rather, I’ve been open with other people partly because you want others to know they are not alone either. Also, I will always be proud of him.
Jamie was sick. He saw no relief in sight. His dreams of playing ball and becoming a pilot at the Air Force Academy were shattered. I’m sure this added to his unnerving. While I know I don’t understand it all, I’m still so very proud of Jamie.
He loved planes and cooking like his Dad. He loved Legos. He could win at games without even trying. Truly, a brilliant young mind.
Often, for those early months, songs or down days could trigger tears for me which was quite abnormal for my temperament. But, I should not have been surprised. He’s gone. Our family has forever changed.
We don’t forget. In fact, we found the first year he was gone that we needed to do something in memory of him. I know some choose to keep fresh flowers on the gravestone, but we chose to do something different.
We chose to share what brought us the most comfort and strength through our grief. We bought Gideon Bibles in Jamie’s memory every month. You know the Bibles place in hotel and motel rooms? Knowing troubled souls might need some guidance and comfort, we prayed these Scriptures would speak life into minds battling depression and hearts in need of salvation.
The Scriptures and prayer for our family had been deeply important to us before Jamie’s death; however, they became even more vital to us after. Drawing strength from the Lord gave us opportunity to love and to live beyond our capacity.
The resounding ache does quiet down some. We carry on with a deeper compassion for those around us. But, normal never really feels normal again.