It has been so long since I have seen you, yet it barely seems like time has passed in a way. So many things have happened; so much has changed in my life. I wonder what you would think of me now.
Do you know that I have two children? They are girls, Cassie and Brittany. Last time I saw you I was six months pregnant with Cassie. I had been to the doctor for a sonogram that very last morning you were here. I remember that you had said I would have a little girl, and darned if you were not right. And I loved her so much that I had another!
My girls ask about you all the time. Brittany asks more – wonders more I guess. She is so sensitive and concerned. She asks what it is like not to have a mother. She asks if I miss you. I think she worries that because you died, I too will die and won’t be able to watch her children grow up. So much goes on in both of their heads, it is amazing that at 11 and 12 they are so inquisitive and smart.
Rich and I have been divorced for quite some time. I was so unhappy and I can’t tell you how many times I wished you were here to talk to. I wanted to ask you what I should do – wanted to know how to make everything better without anyone getting hurt. I don’t think I succeeded there. Rich was hurt, I was hurt, the girls were hurt – not exactly the smart way to go, do you think? I thought that because you had been divorced, you would understand and could help me see things more clearly.
I am remarried now. You would love my husband. He is fantastic. His mother reminds me so much of you. She is very devoted, and very sweet. She loves the girls so much. They love her too, I think. We don’t see her very much – but we would if she lived closer. I can just picture the two of you doing things together – going to church functions, antique shopping, watching old movies, eating lunch at fun places. She would have been a great study partner or just someone to talk to and share things with. I know you didn’t have very many close friends – but I am sure she would have been one of them, given the chance.
I still look pretty much the same. I have remained in pretty good shape and I still work out at the gym. I remember when we used to work out together at the gym near the hospital. Do you remember that cute boy that asked me out one time? I can’t even remember his name anymore, but I do remember we never went out. I think you, Kathy (remember your skinny, nutty friend?) and I ended up going to Kelly’s in downtown South Bend instead.
I remember moving to our last house. Do you remember all the work we had to do? I was so happy to have a house, but so discouraged by the mess, by the neighborhood, by everything I guess. There I was in 4th and 5th grade learning how to wallpaper, paint, do all sorts of things many adults can’t do. It was educational, but so hard. I remember Holly Hobby wallpaper in my room and how much I loved the little rosebuds that were on it. Good choice, by the way!
Shawn is doing well – in case you have not heard. He is married and has a little boy, Aaron. I don’t see him much, but he will be in Texas for the summer and I will spend TONS of time with him. You would be so proud of all that he has done. He is a good father, a good husband – what a great, great son you have there. He had some marriage problems right after Aaron was born, but I shook him senseless and he got over it. Actually, we talked a bit, and he decided to work it instead of giving up – which was the path I chose instead…I can give advice, but I don’t seem to handle it well.
I have a great job – it is amazing how well I have done. You would be surprised – I know I am. I make more money than I am sure you ever dreamed of, and our combined household income is nice – very nice. We seem to spend it all – but we are doing JUST FINE. I am very happy now – financially, emotionally, all around a happy girl. You may not recognize that part of me.
I wonder what you thought of your life as you were taking your last breaths. Did you worry about us? Did you feel sad? Were you happy that you didn’t have to fight anymore? When you died I cried – I cried for so many days, weeks, months. I couldn’t imagine a day that I wouldn’t think of you and miss you so terribly. I missed talking to you on the phone every afternoon. Did you see me pick up the phone every day for months thinking that I could talk to you – only to realize you were not at home? Did you ever catch me calling our old phone number just to see if you were there? I remember asking Erin’s mom how long it would take to stop hurting so badly – she said it took her years. She was right. I think it took at least 5 years to get to the point where I could go through a day and NOT think about you. Wow – those were hard years.
We have a picture of you hanging in our Piano room – looking over the baby grand. It is not the same piano you had. I couldn’t keep that one when you died because we didn’t have room – so I gave it to your church. But – once we had a bigger house and had saved some money (we were so poor for years, until Brittany was born and I went back to work) I finally got another one. It is not a Baldwin, but it is very pretty and you would love it. Cassie can even play it pretty well. I have not gotten her involved with lessons since we moved to Texas…but I know if I did, she would really take off.
I have not planted roses in such a long time, but this year I will try it. I remember how beautiful your flowers were. You spent so much time taking care of them – they were perfect. I also remember that huge, fragrant lilac bush in the back yard. I would LOVE to have that in my yard now. I want to plant one of those this year too – it will be nice to see those familiar little buds again.
I found an old diary of yours a while ago – I guess that is why I started my own. It is hard to write in it…how did you stay so dedicated? You seemed so sad in some of those pages – I was the cause of most of that. What a difficult time I gave you. I hope you know that I love you and I didn’t mean any of the mean things I used to say – I wish I could take it back. I wish my girls would not turn into teenagers and be that way – but I imagine it is unavoidable.
Do you remember the day we spent at the art festival in Elkhart? I bought a Christmas ornament from one of the booths – it is my most prized possession. We had spent the morning shopping, went to The Tea Room for lunch (remember those roast beef sandwiches and the HUGE deserts?). I think Barb may have gone with us, but mostly I remember spending the day with you and having such a good time. We always had fun on Saturdays – going to lunch, shopping – not fighting. It was good.
I miss you.
How important do you think you are in the grand scheme of things? How important is the work you do at Company XYZ? Will they miss you when you are gone? Does your work make an impact on the organization, in your industry?
I heard a song the other day – Fred Jones Part II by Ben Folds and it was quite astonishing. The song is about a guy, Fred, and he retires after 25 years of successful work at a company. It is sad, eye opening, and quite possibly very accurate. I am not old enough to have worked at a company for that period of time and I am not near retirement age…but even still, thinking about that day is difficult. See, I love my job. No matter what I am doing for a career, it is always pretty important to me. I enjoy feeling good at something, feeling in control (at least some of the time) and I like feeling like I contribute to the success of something greater than me – to an organization. I honestly feel that my company is better because I work there – even though I may only contribute in a very small way when you consider the size of the company (HUGE).
What would it feel like to never have recognition – to not be missed when you leave? Wow… that is sad. It makes you want to take a few more risks in your job – makes you want to try just a little harder to leave something behind…maybe publish a book about something you do. One of my co-workers said something that made an impression – and perhaps he is not alone in his thoughts on this one. He said “Reality sucks!!! Must of us can only really have an impact on the world outside work.....”
Do you think that is true? And if so – how do you go to that place you call work everyday and do anything worthwhile? Hard for me to understand.
Have you ever done something wrong? I mean – so wrong, so horrible, that it haunts you – it is with you everywhere you go and just won’t go away?
Have you then experienced that overwhelming sick feeling in the very pit of your stomach, when your body feels too light to even stay grounded, yet your feet feel as though they weigh 500 pounds? I am talking about that feeling of remorse that sets in when you finally realize that you have truly hurt someone, when you see with your own heart and eyes that you have wounded another person in ways you didn’t know you had the power to do? Cheated on a lover – lied to a friend – disappointed your parents – failed your child – completely been off-target for an extremely, extremely important deadline… they can all pretty much lead to that awful, disappointed, can’t-breath-because-you-are-too-overcome-with-guilt feeling. What a terrible way to feel – and it is so bad because it is your own damn fault. What can be worse than feeling like garbage except feeling that way and having it be your own fault?
And then, let’s thrown on the pile the way you have now made someone else feel. Oh – don’t give me that “you can’t make people feel anything – they feel what they want to” BS – cause I won’t buy it. I have been MADE to feel like crap before – of no agreement on my part – so I KNOW it can be done.
I have done some pretty mean things in my life. I have been underhanded, I have lied, I have cheated…I have done pretty much all of your average bad things. I have not killed anyone – so that is a good thing – but I have definitely had my share of regrets, remorse, and failures and I know how hard it is to pick things up and move on – face those failures and move past them. I have made people feel like shit, I have dissapointed people that I love. I have made promises I didn't keep, I have felt there was no way out of a horrible situation that I was responsible for being in. Yep - that is right - I am scum. I have done some really crummy things to other people and I am sure that they didn't deserve it. I am guilty. But I am HERE.
I found out that someone killed himself yesterday. He went through a lay-off about six months ago and never found another job. He was too overcome with pain and the feeling of failure to keep trying, to move on. He had a family – a wife, kids, relatives, friends. He just couldn’t move past this one thing – he couldn’t get that feeling out of his stomach – he couldn’t stop feeling too light – his feet kept feeling heavy – he couldn’t pay the bills, couldn’t provide for his family, couldn’t take it anymore and he killed himself. Man, that sucks.
I just can’t imagine, no matter how hard I try, how bad a person feels when they decide that death is the only way to feel better. Like I said – I have felt horrible in my life – and it has been from things that I HAVE DONE – mistakes I HAVE MADE. And – death didn’t seem like even a remote solution. How can someone take that road? Especially when the circumstances that got them there are not because of anything they did? Help me understand this…..
When I was in Junior High – a frickin’ long time ago – I ‘went’ with this guy – Sean Beatty. I say ‘went’ but as we all know, we didn’t ‘go’ anywhere. We simply pledged our undying lust for each other (in a 7th grade sort of way) and avoided each other all day long at school. We would talk on the phone every night, but at school we were too embarrassed to let our friends know we liked each other and so we totally ignored each other all day long. So funny to think about now.
Anyway – we grew up a bit, realized we didn’t have too much in common, and by 9th grade each of us had moved on. We had held hands, spent hours on the phone, been to a few movies, spent some weekends and hot summer days together - but nothing that would last forever.
Two years later – 10th grade… Sean had a new girlfriend – Kim. They seemed happy. They were cute, smart, busy with sports and other activities. They both had families – both of their parents were still married…they had pretty good lives – nice house, enough money to survive… nothing very noteworthy really. But, one night Sean went home, went upstairs to his room, tied a rope around one of the beams on his ceiling, and he hung himself.
Nobody – absolutely nobody but him – knows why. Not his girlfriend, not his parents, not his sister, not his friends. Nobody. He somehow thought that the world was too difficult to manage - responsibility too great, life too complicated - and so he simply killed himself.
What is that all about? I hear about it on occasion – how someone else decided that things were just too tough – life was just too hard...and they, for some-reason-only-they-and-the-devil-know, decide to get even with the world and take their life. What a horrible, terrible thing to do.
Even if there were a reason someone would think to do it – how unfair!
“Oh – my friend, wife, husband, child, job, (or whoever) – wronged me – did something terrible – I just can’t stand to live.”
Live with that feeling in the pit of your stomach. Make yourself feel heavier so you are not floating away on the inside anymore – make your feet feel lighter so you are not sinking anymore. Deal with it just like the rest of us do and face up to your failures, or the failures of those around you and stop taking the easy way out. Dear god - this world isn't just about you. It is about the people you meet, the lives you touch, the things you do and all of the people in it.
You have no right to share your life with someone in even the smallest way - and then kill yourself. How arrogant to think this only just about you and you can leave when you want to.